Musings after the US election

For anyone paying attention, the US election yesterday was a disaster for Democrats.  That party lost control of the US Senate (likely 53-47) and took a drubbing in US House races (242-174) and US governors' (24-8) races.  The end result as far as science, environmental policy, and climate change is that science deniers now control key oversight committees on science, as many news organizations have noted.  The likely result for at least the next two years is unending investigations, waste-of-time hearings, and other obstacles erected to make environmental regulators' working lives a living hell.  Forget about the US ratifying any environmental treaties, much less anything having to do with climate change.  On the state level, I expect rollbacks of renewable energy mandates at the least, along with attempts to repeal other environmental regulations and meaningless resolutions attempting to nullify various federal laws and/or appropriate federal lands for state and private use.

All of that, though, is in the future.  The more interesting question right now is why Democrats lost in such a spectacular fashion.  I'm sure there will be much ink spilled and numbers thrown about figuring that out but the long and short of it is this: Just like in the 2010 midterms, the Republican base voted and the Democratic base did not.  In my voting precinct, only around 30% of eligible voters actually voted yesterday.  Let that number sink in for a minute.  Thirty percent.  Seventy percent of eligible voters stayed home and let thirty percent decide the fate of this country.  That's not atypical, either.  In fact, the poll workers I spoke with thought it was a pretty good turnout for a midterm election.

We've all read stories, especially in the more liberal sectors of the Internet, about how demographic trends are working against the Republican party, about how their base is getting older and less diverse, etc.  But that base votes.  Every.  Single.  Election.  Meanwhile, the Democratic base only seems to vote in presidential elections and ignore midterm elections.  Until Democrats wake up and realize that every single election is important, not just presidential elections, we'll continue to see results like we saw yesterday.  The repercussions of yesterday's elections on science, environmental, and climate policies will be felt for years to come.  I just hope that someday, either a) Democrats wake up and vote every single time or b) Republicans wake up and realize that science is true whether or not they believe it.  I'm not holding my breath.


  1. What I keep going on about is the apparent fact that the Democratic leadership can't seem to get it into their heads that they have working class populism in the palm of their hand but instead abandon it in favor of some nebulous centrist ideal, thereby allowing the "we'll do anything to win" Republicans to take that populism and turn it into their own phony version. Naturally, Republicans can't have true populism, because if they did, they would cease being Republicans.

    In the process of throwing away everything they stood for since FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great Society, they end up alienating their base and boring everybody else. Elections are exasperating episodes of lost opportunities for social progress culminating in tight horse races that are often tipped in favor of Republicans due to voter suppression and outright lies.

    I am so sick of seeing Democrats "moving to the center" in hopes of garnering the support of some group of dumb-asses they have no business trying to win over.

    That's exactly the wrong strategy to beat the Republicans, says Tom Frank (of What's the Matter with Kansas" fame). The solution is not Bible-thumping but economic populism. Liberals need to respond to the faux populism of the GOP – which pits "real" working class Americans against over-educated, snotty liberals – with the real deal. Frank argues it's time for the Democratic Party to return to its roots, to rediscover its lost soul. To become once again the champion of the working class.

    That passage was from an Alternet article written shortly after Senator John Kerry failed to beat one of the worst presidents in U.S. history--ten years ago. I think this has gone on long enough.


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