What do they mean, these election results?
The GOP took back the House-Clearly, the voters were rejecting outright the Obama agenda. Oh yeah?
The Democrats held on to the Senate-Clearly, the voters were repudiating the Tea Party agenda. What?
The recent elections in the UK and Australia left both electorates in the quandary of a hung Parliament-and as one commentator said, the voters have spoken, we just still don’t know what they said. It took a while to shake down.
In the UK, it finally meant a coalition between the Conservatives and Progressives, and a bold program of reform and budget cuts. In Australia, the Labor Government barely hung on with three Independents, and has taken the warning, now seriously treading water.
Here in the USA, the mid-terms are a bit of an anomaly, asking people to go back and redo what they thought they did only 2 years before. No wonder so many don’t vote. Too much already. Giving people every two years to change their mind is like asking your kids every five minutes are they having fun yet. You learn not to ask.
The anti-Obama crowd were at pains to tell us that this was a referendum on the President. If so, it’s one he can’t lose since his name was not on the ballot. Funny that. To make an election about someone we are NOT voting for, rather than about those we are. Must be magical.
If you thought that was a little bizarre, think of the voters in Denver who voted down Prop 300 which wanted to set up a City Commission to study extra-terrestials. Even ET (Phone home) didn’t vote for it, and it failed, despite a huge anonymous donation that some suspected came from the Martian Chamber of Commerce.
Kathleen Parker’s Washington Post Op Ed today, (page positioned right of center of page A19) boldly opines, “Narrative schmarrative,” the results happened not because Obama was a bad communicator but a lousy listener. That’s something you’d expect Michelle to be saying, not a pundit.
George Will (on the far right of A19) says, the results show the nation recoiling against liberalism, a repudiation of progressivism. OK George.
On the far left of page A19, David Broder weighs in: Obama needs to go back to Plan A of a broad bi-partisan outreach, since he has now thrown off the shackles of Pelosi and Reid.
Obama held a press conference to get ahead of the bad news to call it a “shellacking” which is a great word if nothing else. The results, he said, show his programs are not working fast enough. It was the pace of progress, not the programs, and people’s lack of patience.
So there you have it, folks. We get to choose our meanings. It reminds me of a story of a friend who went to the doctors with a sniffle only to be told, you either have a bad flu or leukemia-take your pick. I’ll take the flu please.
The election results are the results. Bad news? Good News? No News that is new? Or perhaps the people have had a chance to refocus, to revisit some of the choices of 2008, to send their State and Congress Reps a message of sorts, which was- some of you are doing a good enough job, some of you are fired. Simple as that.
Of course, a hermeneutic of suspicion says, nothing is simple, there is always bad news and bad intent, all you have to do is look hard enough to find a conspiracy. But Occam’s razor says, the simpler and more elegantly economic the explanation is, the better our minds work.
Applied to the Mid Terms, it boils down to the people voting. Some candidates won. Some Lost. And the President is still in the White House. And we may have earned 6 months grace before the 2012 campaign becomes the media obsession. Here’s hoping.
Meanwhile, we have to work out what our own lives mean, what our wife means when she says you are ‘too tough on the kids’, or what your teenager means when he says, ‘ Don’t be too cool, Dad.”
If Obama revives his hermeneutic of hope, he will know he”s got two more years to rescue the economy, and reconnect his hope to the nation’s hurting heartland. But he knew that long before Tuesday. It’s called leadership, a quality that wins in the end, but in the middle passage, doesn’t complain or explain, because when did any of us not have to risk being wrong in order to end up right?