Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Reading the Tea Leaves

Election results came in from New York, New Jersey and Virginia. The party preaching change, proved to be a winner. Who could have imagined that, at least in some locations, it would be the Republicans, a year after their repudiation by the voters, who would raise their voices and hold up their heads and their hands as the party vowing to lead us out of the morass?

Yet, it is hard to get too excited, or too depressed, depending on your party affiliation, by what occurred yesterday. Virginia has historically been a Republican state, has a long track record of bouncing the party in charge from office in mid-term elections, and had the winner beat the loser again, four years after an earlier defeat in a race between the same opponents for a different post. In New York's 23rd, it was in fact a Democrat who garnered that seat after the Republican effort to oust its own candidate and endorse a third party conservative, failed. A stranglehold on this district by the Republicans disappeared. In the New York City mayoral race, despite the enormous amount of money the popular Republican two termer poured out of his own pockets, he was nearly beaten by a much lower profile Democrat. Finally, in New Jersey, a Democratic governor who was supposed to right the ship based on his Wall Street background, sank like a rock. What does it all mean?

Principally, as the exit polls reveal, the rising number of independent voters were voicing their dissatisfaction for the party in power. Times are tough and the reaction of those dismayed, distressed, disturbed and discouraged was to throw out the old and bring in the new. It mattered little what was being said by either candidate. It was a referendum on tough times hanging on way too long. The 23rd had belonged to the Republicans. The ownership of the governor's mansion in New Jersey and Virginia changed party affiliation. Only Michael Bloomberg, in a city he owns, both figuratively and literally, was able to hold off the rushing tide and hold on by an astonishing close margin. No, it was not Democrat alone who faced expulsion. It was anyone unlucky enough to be in power during the bad days.

We are a country that is becoming increasingly frustrated and disenchanted. Even those of us who want to see this administration succeed in dealing with the enormous challenges laid at its feet, are getting tired of waiting. The consistent voice of the people yesterday was that whoever is in charge, Republican or Democrat, is in trouble as long as we feel that we remain troubled. If, by next year at this time, significant improvement is neither seen nor felt, those whose seats are at stake are in very serious jeopardy of walking out with heads bowed.


Bruce Egert said...

I've met both Chris Christie and Jon Corzine. Both are good men and well meaning, despite their negative campaign ads. Christie emotes well and connects; Corzine does not, despite his good record as an effective governor. Christie will have to be a real politician--making alliances and compromises with Democrats. I think he has a chance of doing this but will have to deal with an impossible budget deficit. On the other hand Rush Limbaugh, the mouthpiece of the GOP, who never ran for office, put his faith in an upstate Conservative and trashed a mainstream GOP candidate. The Democrat won as a result. The GOP should learn that their future is more Christie than it is Rush. Politics is about the art of compromise and governing fromt the middle.

Robert said...

you are right on !!!


Richie Jay said...

Chris Christie may be a nice guy (just like George W. Bush), but he is by no means a moderate (also just like George W. Bush). He skews far to the right on most social and fiscal issues. He ran a vague campaign on a single talking point: "Corzine screwed up NJ and I can fix it." He rarely, if ever, discussed his views on specific issues, and when asked for details on his plans to dig us out of a massive fiscal crisis, he refused to be more specific.

However, because New Jerseyans are very unhappy with the current state of affairs (incidentally, much more the fault of the failed policies of the Bush administration than Jon Corzine's management of the state budget), they were happy to replace Corzine with anyone, even a relative unknown like Christie.

But, as the Bergen Record laid out on Page 1 today, Christie is objectively the most conservative governor in New Jersey in more than two decades, with views that, for the most part, Rush Limbaugh would endorse. A brief synopsis of his 'moderate' credentials: Anti-choice. Anti-environmental (and most other) regulations. Anti-gay rights. Hostile towards labor unions. Favors trickle down economic policies (aka tax cuts for the rich). Wants to appoint very conservative judges to the state Supreme Court. Wants to divert tax dollars from public to private and parochial schools in the form of a voucher program. Etc. Etc. His views put him far out of the mainstream, unless the mainstream is a teabagger rally.

We can only hope that as governor of a moderate-to-liberal state with a moderate-to-liberal state legislature, he will learn (or be forced) to compromise on the big issues that affect New Jerseyans.


Richie Jay said...

Here's a shortened, working version of a link to that Bergen Record story: http://tr.im/Eb0t