On the heels of my blog entry last week, I struggled to put what happened to Democrats on Tuesday into some meaningful context. My contention in that blog was the Organizing for America (OFA) was going to change the election in unpredicted ways.
And, of course, it appears that I was quite wrong.
As Brainwrap has already reported, Michigan was an almost total Republican rout. With the exception of a couple notable examples (like Gary Peters defeating teahadist Rocky Rackowski) Republicans got everything: the Governor’s mansion, both the House and the Senate, the Supreme Court and many of our good state and federal members of Congress were sent packing as well. The defeat of Mark Schauer in my own 7th District was particularly hard for me personally. Having someone like Tim Walberg representing us again is a nightmare come true. Walberg is already crowing about his intent to shut down our government (Via Think Progress):
He said Republicans can work together to get things done with the Obama administration, but that will be up to the president. If Obama, like then-President Bill Clinton did after the 1994 midterms, responds to the mandate from voters and understands he can’t disregard it, then he thinks Obama will do well. “If he doesn’t, he will shut government down,” Walberg said.
Here are my tweets from yesterday as I licked my wounds on the couch, nursing a beer:
Effety eff eff eff…
I just … I … I … aw, nevermind…
You can see the stages of grief playing out here, can’t you?
The president just said “strap on”.
That seemed so appropriate at the moment.
Yesterday’s election was not historic. It would have been if Democrats *hadn’t* gotten clobbered.
I was disabused of this notion by respondents on my blog’s Facebook page who reminded me that this was the largest swing in the House in 72 years. What I meant, I suppose was that it would have been surprising only if they hadn’t lost so many. But, yeah, okay, it’s historic.
Democrats didn’t lose the Senate because Democrats never *HAD* the Senate. is.gd/gG9UJ
Hard to lose something that you were never able to use in an effective way. Like, you know, to pass legislation and stuff. Plus we didn’t have Al Franken for the first half of that time.
The filibuster suddenly takes on a different perspective now, doesn’t it?
This last one troubles me because the abuse of the filibuster is a large part of the reason why we were never able to accomplish the many progressive things we wanted to accomplish in since January 22, 2009. Now we’ll need to use it to keep the Republicans from reversing the things we did accomplish. The GOPosauric House will pass stuff and it will die in the Senate and nothing will get done for two years: the definition of gridlock. And Obama will never have to use the veto pen to make sure of it.
With regard to OFA, I am SO ambivalent about it. We certainly did work our asses of for GOTV. Many of us worked 15-20 or more hours a week for the months leading up to the election, many of us in addition to our day jobs. Nationally, OFA had over 6.5 million voter contacts over the GOTV weekend. Hell, on Election Day alone 220,000 people in Indiana heard from us. There were more than 200,000 GOTV shifts scheduled across the country for the final four days launching out of over 3,000 staging locations. I know my wife and I and some of our volunteers definitely had an impact with our one-to-one conversations with voters.
But the Dem turnout was pathetic. In my area, a strong Democratic stronghold in Michigan (Ann Arbor), we still had less than 45% of registered voters show up and Mark Schauer barely won among them. The nearly-perfect candidate for Michigan Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson got clobbered statewide. This woman is young, vibrant, & full of great ideas. Hell, she literally wrote “the book” on the position of Secretary of State:
No candidate seeking election to any statewide office this November has prepared for the task more methodically than Jocelyn Benson, who spent the year before she entered the Michigan Secretary of State race researching and writing a book about the way the job is being done in 49 other states.
At $89.95 a copy, “State Secretaries of State” isn’t likely to show up on many voters’ bookshelves. Its 156 pages include scarcely a single biographical detail about the 32-year-old author, save that, to write it, she took a leave from teaching at the Wayne State University School of Law.
But secretaries of state and other election law wonks rave about Benson’s book, which includes profiles of 10 officeholders — five Republicans and five Democrats who either hold the job or left it within the last year. Mark Ritchie, the Democratic secretary of state in Minnesota, predicts in his preface that Benson’s tales of administrative derring-do may inspire readers “to run for Secretary of State themselves.”
She got clobbered.
In my area, the hardest working politician I’ve ever met, Adam Zemke got beat for a position on the Washtenaw County Commission by a guy that literally didn’t campaign. Other than a paltry number of yard signs here and there, he can only be described as “the invisible candidate”.
He got clobbered.
We elected Rick Snyder to lead our state, a man who has never in his life been in government. He has no experience whatsoever and a smoke-and-mirrors platform that voters swallowed hook, line, and sinker. His Democratic opponent, Virg Bernero, became known as “the angriest mayor in America”. Anger and fear may play well with Republicans but they definitely do not play well with Democrats.
He got clobbered.
At the end of the day, these examples show that these were probably not winnable elections. No amount of GOTV was going to make up for an angry electorate determined to hold Democrats responsible for everything wrong with the economy. In Michigan, we have finally had job growth for the most consecutive months in many, many years, a sign that the combined efforts of our current Democratic governor, Jennifer Granholm, and President Obama are finally starting to pay off. But now the Republicans who stood in the way of everything these two did will now take credit for their efforts to diversify our state’s economy and get the manufacturing sector back on track. It’s maddening, it’s exasperating and it’s humiliating.
We got clobbered.
The polling, particularly in Michigan, was completely wrong in some instances. The final two independent polls for the Schauer/Walberg race showed Schauer up by 6-7 points, about the margin he got clobbered by.
We’ll pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off for the battles ahead. If we hope to reclaim some territory in 2012, it will be incumbent upon us to maintain the grassroots networks put in place by groups like OFA. We’re going to have to learn more effective ways of talking about our successes in the face of a right wing media machine that spews lies and untruths day after day. When over 2/3 of voters think their taxes went UP, well, Houston, we have a problem. We’ll have to learn how to combat the influx of insane levels of outside spending, money that even campaign finance reform would be hard put to end given the outcome of Citizens United. The fact that Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman weren’t able to purchase their seats gives me some hope but we’re going to have to make sure that’s replicated across the country.
Those of us who have been involved in or who have followed politics for many years know that this ebb and flow of who has the power is normal. We know that one race can’t mean the end of our efforts to work for Change and hold onto Hope. We have to hold Republicans accountable now. They claim to have the answers and now we’ll find out if they do (they don’t) and make sure that any failures are now on them. That’s going to be easy in a place like Michigan where they literally control everything now.
If we get discouraged and give up, the GOPosaurs will have won more than this election. We have to keep fighting the good fight. The Bush/Cheney years are fresh enough that we all know how that’s done. And so we’ll keep doing it in preparation for 2012. Are you with me?
I’m just sayin’…