Friday, November 6, 2009

Election 2009: Aftermath

The fallout from Tuesday's gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, where conservative Republicans running to the center won, isn't so much a Republican victory as a Democratic loss. Creigh Deeds in Virginia was a lousy candidate, and he didn't get enough help from President Obama or put up a good fight. Jon Corzine in New Jersey did both, and he might have won if he'd run a more positive campaign and highlighted accomplishments of his - expanding preschool for children, abolishing the death penalty - that mattered to his base and would have gotten them out to vote. They didn't. The consensus is that the young Obama voters from last year stayed home. That's not true. In fact, they went to the mall. (Dave Barry joke! :-D) In any event, they were not inspired enough to come out and work for the change they were expecting in an Obama administration. Young voters are far less motivated to work for their own interests than their more conservative elders.
I don't know about incoming governor Bob McDonnell in Virginia, but New Jersey is such a mess that Chris Christie has his work cut out for him. At least he doesn't have to drive his own car anymore, thank God for that.
Obama is trying to keep on track to push through a transformational agenda in the style of Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, but he remains limited by an angry opposition resistant to change. The Democrats were buoyed, though, by winning two special House elections in California and in New York, where a Democrat won the 23rd Congressional District seat for the first time in over a century thanks to dissension between mainstream Republicans and the far right. The arch-conservative lightweight heavyweights in the party supported a third-party candidate because the official Republican nominee (who dropped out) was deemed too moderate. Despite Democrat Bill Owens's victory, the right is treating this as a victory because the purged a moderate candidate and expect to win the seat for a conservative Republican next year. Excuse me? If the 23rd District is so conservative, why did they reject the third-party right-wing candidate, Doug Hoffman? And since when did Sarah Palin and Dick Armey become residents of the district? Or, for that matter, Doug Hoffman?
Be that as it may, some Democrats in Washington have gotten cold feet over supporting President Obama's two priorities for this year - health care reform and climate change. The congressional Democratic leadership, though, is still pushing legislation on both issues, with health care reform up for a vote in the House soon and greenhouse gas emission control legislation in the Senate. (The climate change bill has the support of noted liberals John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman, so it has a fighting chance there after passing closely in the house this past June.) The Democrats will still have comfortable control of both houses of Congress after the 2010 elections if - if - they get this legislation passed and cite the party's accomplishments so far under Obama (expansion of children's health care coverage, protection of women's rights to sue for pay discrimination, a $787 billion stimulus package that saved people's jobs) in the midterm election campaigning to get out the vote next time. I'm sure Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid understand that.

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