“How’s that hopey-changey thing working for you now?” — Sarah Palin.
My wife came to bed late last night and told me about the election results. She said they were using words like “Bloodbath”, “Sea of Red”, “Catastrophe” and that pretty much everybody I liked didn’t have the vote go their way. The Huffington Post this morning sums it up this way: “Ouch” (with the O from Obama’s logo).
I don’t know what happened. I thought the gender gap would come into play with so many reproductive and health care issues being threatened. But, alack and alas, it did not happen. What the country will look like for the next two years is unfathomable to me. Still, there are some bright spots. For the first time, there are 100 women in Congress. The Northeast remains relative stable (though Martha Coakley lost in Massachusetts). Jeanne Shaheen won. And I actually heard on the radio last night that Mitch McConnell would be a better majority leader than Harry Reid, because he will let more things come up for a vote — amendments and such. If that’s the case, maybe the system can bear the weight of all of this. This is still America and — as long as we play by the rules — our system ought to be ok, I guess.
But here’s the thing that truly drives me nuts: supposedly, the mid-term election is a vote on how well the President is doing. I don’t understand that, since he’s not on the ballot, and I would hope we’re voting for the actual candidates (that people chose for this candidate or that, rather than against the party of the President. In any case, in nearly all the press, all the advertisements, the narrative is this: Republicans running against Obama and Democrats running away from Obama because he’s simply not a popular President.
No one is saying that he’s not a good President (okay, Fox news does say that, but I don’t watch them if I don’t have to). The rest of the press is saying, and Democrats acted like “popularity” equals leadership. No one of his decisions has been so bad that people should want him thrown out. In fact, many of his decisions (getting us out of the wars, coming out for gay rights and against marijuana) seem downright good to have been made.
I remember when Obama was elected the first time, and people were crying they were so happy. His soaring rhetoric had us all (?) believing in America’s future. We were going to be peaceful and good to each other. Sure, Sara Palin didn’t like it but that was okay with me. We were hopeful.
The President didn’t mess up on any large scale and was elected a second time, just to prove it wasn’t a fluke. These last two years have been excruciating to watch, as gridlock really took hold and Obama’s Executive Branch took on the Legislative Branch and the President got more and more isolated. But I haven’t seen a single Democrat say he’s a bad President, just that he wasn’t popular and that most didn’t want to be seen with him. I know we talk about the “popular vote” and – to some extent politics is a popularity contest, but it’s supposed to be about leadership and real representation, not actual popularity. I voted against George Bush because his policies were a failure and I didn’t like his ideology, I never gave a thought to his popularity. In the same vein, I voted for Obama because I liked his plans and his thought, not because he was more popular as a person. By this logic, Kim Kardashian should be President.
By my logic, though, we haven’t given up on the President, we have given up on his ideology, which a lot of folks still agree with. In short, we have given up on us. I hope that hope returns and that we can learn to like each other as a people again, but I have to say at this point I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for it to happen.