Election post mortem

In my assessment, the transfer of control of the Senate probably doesn't portend drastic changes - at least not immediately. The Republicans probably won't try to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, though a few promised their supporters they would. If they try, Obama will veto it, and they still won't have enough votes to override the veto. Likewise, they won't be able to push through major policy changes in the short term - but that's not really the danger here. The two remaining years of Obama's presidency will be measured not so much in terms of terrible policies he'll have prevented, but, rather, in terms of badly needed policies that now will have virtually no chance of passing. With Republicans in control, we will never see progress on climate change or carbon emissions. There will be no Federal jobs bill. or sensible gun law reform. nor restoration of funding for essential programs like education , or subsidies for renewable energy.
The real battles now will be fought at the state level, as Republicans have strengthened their stranglehold in many state legislatures. The Republican governors who brought us "Common Core" as a poison pill aimed at crippling public education even further have added to their ranks. Look for more states to adopt anti-union laws like Ohio's once-failed, but likely to return SB-5. And it wasn't all because too few non-Republican voters turned out to vote, though voter turn=out was shamefully low, indeed. Republicans were simply better funded and better organized, and, I would argue, the voters, in sum were less aware and less educated. In some cases, as with Wendy Davis in Texas and Allison Grimes in Kentucky, the Democratic candidates sacrificed their Hispanic constituencies on the altar of political expediency. Both spoke out against amnesty - not that amnesty has actually been proposed, and thereby cut loose their Latino support in order to appease white, anti-immigrant voters. In some cases, like the governor's race in Ohio, the Democratic Party put forth candidates with glaring vulnerabilities. Ed Fitzgerald talked a good talk. He was pro-choice, favored marriage equality, supported a minim um wage increase, and promised to address the problem of rising tuition , and even opposed fracking, but he also drove a car for 10 years without a license. With that kind of baggage, he should have known better than to run. The Democratic Party explained that they had not actually vetted the candidate, because, they told reporters, they didn't have the money for a thorough background check. Really. Chris Redfern? Really? There comes a time when you just need to cut your losses and walk away, and, too often, for the Ohio Democratic Party, that time coincides with the very start of the campaign season. At the very least, the party's leadership at the state and national levels should be fired. Football coaches get fired after a single losing season, but the Democratic Leadership Committee and the National Committee and the state committees all seem to have tenure no matter how often and how badly they fail. These are, after all, the same people who stage-managed Al Gore, the most wooden candidate ever to cast a shadow at the debate podium - the man who exclaimed that he agreed with his opponent no less than 22 times during the debates, and who then conceded the election before all the votes were counted in Florida. These are the same people who put a bunch of Harvard boys in charge of the John Kerry campaign, which failed to seriously challenge George Bush even after Bush took us in to the war on Iraq on premises that had been shown to be false. Kerry, we will recall, conceded his election the very next day despite reports of widespread anomalies in Ohio and elsewhere. The Ohio Democratic Party then tried to block independent investigations of the electoral irregularities in Ohio. I know. I was one of the people doing the investigating, and yes, there certainly was fraud. But the biggest fraud of all goes back much further, however, and that is the false impression fostered by the Democrats that they are, in any way, an opposition party dedicated to governing in the interests of the people. Let's set aside, for the moment all the valid arguments that the Democrats - most of them, serve the same moneyed interests as their Republican counterparts, and the notion that by voting for the lesser of two evils serves, ultimately, to perpetuate evil. I'm thinking, here about just the key issues the Democrats claim ownership of, like job creation, protecting the environment, women's rights, and preserving the democratic process ( I.E. voting rights). Where was the sustained, organized, vocal outcry against the wave of needlessly restrictive voter ID laws?, or the spread of Fracking, or new oil pipelines?, or the relentless assaults of reproductive rights? Citizens groups, not the Democratic Party have carried that load. To be champions of these causes requires more than lip service, as each of these is under ceaseless attack by the Republicans. Defending this territory requires a virtual crusade. I'm talking about FIERY speeches, whistle-stop tours, pep rallies, advertisements, editorials, town meetings, and the like. It means abandoning the facade of "by-partisanship", and holding feet to the fire. But if illegal wars, job erosion, assaults on civil rights, climate change, funding cuts to essential programs, prevention of rational health care reform, filibustering the president, blocking nominations gratuitously, aren't enough to light a serious fire under the Democratic Party, then maybe it's time to just let it fizzle out. We are headed for a kind of one-party rule in this country, as the revolving door between the Democrats and Republicans, and the banks, and the oil companies, the weapons manufacturers, the Israeli lobby,and the insurance and pharmaceutical industries spins ever faster, and not even the sleeping body of a Chris Redfern arrest its motion or slow it down.
Unfortunately, John Kennedy's warning that those who make peaceful change impossible will make violent revolution inevitable would seem to apply here in that the results of this election will most likely mean that only a huge nuclear disaster will halt the march of nuclear power. Only an increase in the frequency and lethality of school shootings will bring about needed gun law reforms, and only a massive earthquake or the poisoning of a major aquifer will put an end to fracking. In his victory speech, Kentucky senator Mitch McConnel decried the public's lack of trust in the government to meet the public's basic needs, and he is right, especially considering HIS party's opposition to environmental and labor protections, and its attacks on all manner of public programs, but also considering that there is no one really stopping them. Ultimately, it is up to us to either force the Democratic Party to BE an opposition party, or to create a new party that will perform that function. But there is a third alternative, and one which I suspect is far more likely and pragmatic, and that is to develop issue-based coalitions at the grass roots level that can wield enough political influence to make ALL of the parties bend their way. We are seeing that now with marriage equality, and, gradually with marijuana decriminalization or raising the minimum wage. It can be done. So, in my view, our focus now should be on things like carbon emissions, stopping fracking and mountain top removal, reinforcing women's rights, restoring public education, passing immigration reform, cutting military spending, and ending fossil fuels. There are pieces of legislation we can get behind, like the Dream Act, or the Appalachian Community's Health Act, and the Move To Amend effort to overturn Citizens United. We can refuse to support any candidate who doesn't take those on as top priorities, and if enough of us do that, then the politicians will eventually come around, or take a loss if they don't.