Midterm elections happened last night. That means that some people are now happy and some aren’t, but you’d be surprised by how many are like, “That was yesterday?” The reason is that turnout is always terrible in these elections.
But those who did vote? Well, they voted in a new United States Senate. Specifically, the Republican Party gets its first Senate majority in awhile. What does this mean? Actually, not too much. President Obama is still in office for two more years, and the Republicans lack the votes to override a Presidential veto.
One area that is quite important is nominations. Republicans can prevent appointees from being seated by refusing to confirm anyone. It’s no government shutdown, but it will be a major annoyance. I only hope we don’t see a Supreme Court vacancy being held up for over a year, rendering the third branch incapable of doing its job.
(Some think I’m forgetting the possibility of impeachment, but they must not understand that this would require sixty-seven votes for the Senate conviction but only a majority for the House indictment. So this situation hasn’t changed much.)
So what lead us here? Ebola, ISIS, and long before that, of course, the healthcare.gov snafu of a year ago all played a part. But the way I see it, the Republicans benefited from having a large number of targets in red states. Let’s assume Democrat Mary Landrieu loses the runoff in Louisiana (given that turnout will be even older and whiter than yesterday, you probably can assume that). it’s a nine-seat swing. But here’s the thing: only two of them were in states won by Obama in 2012. In fact, he lost most of these states in landslides. In the ’80s and ’90s, that wouldn’t be insurmountable. But political polarization appears to be complete. In other words, Republicans managed to win the Senate by mostly fighting in their own territory.
This probably also means the end of a significant conservative wing of the Democratic Party. Really, with the Blue Dog House Dems having lost almost two-thirds of their members in 2010 and 2012, this political class was on borrowed time as it was. The dominant force in Congress in the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1980s, conservadems may be about to become as extinct as the progressive Republicans. If they can neither get elected in red areas nor win nominations in blue areas, how can they possibly survive?
So what can we expect going forward? Gridlock will go on, but one interesting thing is a Politico piece released before the elections that indicates that the right believes that without a Dem Senate, there’s no excuse for John Boehner and Mitch McConnell not getting ‘er done. Simply put, leading Republican civilians seem to expect their leaders to act as if Obama ain’t there.
Nonsensical or not, to those who like a little entertainment value in their politics (myself included, I must confess), this is definitely a positive development. What we’ve got is yelling on the floors of the House and Senate, veto fights, possibly even another government shutdown.
Wait, a shutdown isn’t so amusing. Oh, shit.