One thing's sure about yesterday's election results. They will be overanalyzed and misinterpreted by the media pundits and a clueless political class. We'll hear endless talk of historic political realignment. We'll be told voters moved sharply to the right just as we were told the electorate had shifted dramatically to the left in 2006 and 2008, bringing about historic political realignment.
Voters are no more fond of Republicans today than they were last month or last year or four years ago. And voters didn't become dyed-in-the-wool Democrats in 2006 and 2008. The vast majority of voters hate both major parties with a passion. Virtually all voters are holding their noses when they cast a ballot and feel doomed to choose between the lesser of two evils.
The Onion got it right. Millions of Americans courageously lined up to vote yesterday despite the very real threat of electing the 112th Congress. Thank god for satire. The last safe harbor for truth.
Another thing we'll surely hear from the pundits and the politicians and their handlers is that the 2010 elections sounded the death knell of campaign finance reform, particularly in light of Russ Feingold's defeat.
This too is nonsense. Yesterday was a referendum on the economy. Nothing else mattered. Not the war in Afghanistan. Not global climate change. Certainly not campaign financing.
This fact remains. The average voter understands that their elected representatives are listening to and working for the lobbyists and their big campaign donors, not the general public. Less than 1% of the population paid for all the election advertising we had to endure. And that fraction of 1% will be amply rewarded by the politicians. The average voter gets that, and is pissed about it.
Last night's election results change little or nothing for the Democracy Campaign. Hell, Jim Doyle never once was willing to meet with us. Too busy dialing for dollars, no doubt. Russ Decker never once met with us. He was probably on the phone with Chuck Chvala. Mike Sheridan never once met with us. He was forever courting a lobbyist, literally and figuratively. They are all gone now. Good riddance.
Both parties are playing the money game, and both have been corrupted by that game. Both are dutifully servicing the lobbyists and their donors. Neither is working for the general public. The average voter gets that. It's the single biggest reason why virtually all voters hate both parties with a passion. It's the single biggest reason why most have to hold their noses while voting and choose between the lesser of evils.
It's never been more important than it is right now to address the fact that money is more important than issues or ideas or people in our elections.
If the pundits need fodder, there are serious questions that need answering. Where is authentic political leadership going to come from in our country? When and how is at least one of the major parties going to reconnect in a meaningful and enduring way with a disgusted and increasingly cynical citizenry? Is the public capable of imagining civic innovation to create a new residence for the politically homeless if there is no admission of infidelity forthcoming from the Republicans or Democrats and no sincere attempt to patch things up with estranged voters?
Here's one more question in urgent need of an answer. . . . How do we get beyond partisan gridlock and political paralysis so the many seemingly intractable problems plaguing our society can be tackled and solved? There always have been divisions and competing factions in America, and there always will be. But the political process used to serve the useful purpose of working out those differences so we could be governed. Today it actually magnifies our differences and aggravates the divisions.
Until we work our way through that conundrum it would be foolish to expect the electorate to do anything but continue to lurch, changing colors like a chameleon from election to election.