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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Taking a Celebratory Lap

As I’ve mentioned before, the past year has been a dark one for Liberals.  After Obama so disappointed the Liberal True Believers that many of them decided to sit out last year’s midterm elections, the GOP romped into the House of Representatives and took over numerous state capitols.  And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I have become impatient over the past few years with the concept of “buyer’s remorse.”  This notion pops up anywhere a freely elected Republican legislative majority and a freely elected Republican governor get together and put in place policies of the sort they were freely elected to enact.  Suddenly, vast numbers of people see Republicans behaving like Republicans and profess themselves shocked – SHOCKED! – to find that there is wingnuttery going on in here.  We’ve seen this with Walker in Wisconsin, Kasich in Ohio, Rick Snyder in Michigan and Rick Scott in Florida.  And, “But they didn’t say they were going to do this when they ran!” is a vain and witless excuse.  Republicans do what Republicans do.

Look, folks.  Everybody knew who was behind Walker in Wisconsin, and why they were behind [him.]  The same is true of Kasich and Snyder and all the rest of them.  Hell, Rick Scott was a convicted felon.  Anyone who didn’t know any of this either wasn’t paying attention, or didn’t give enough of a damn for it to matter and voted for those guys anyway, which, come to think of it, fairly well sums up what happened in the 2010 midterms.  The country handed itself over to ignorance and apathy and let those two scamps run amok in the process of self-government.  The country doesn’t get to wake up, blinking, in 2011 and wonder how all this happened. (emphasis in the original)

So . . . thanks Liberal True Believers!  You guys sure made the right call, staying away from the polls out of spite because Obama didn’t turn out to be super-special liberal enough for you.


Of course, Charlie Pierce is exactly right about Republicans doing what Republicans do.

In Michigan, new Governor Rick Snyder pushed through a law that gives him – and him alone – the ability to suspend the elected leaders of any Michigan municipality and install an “executive administrator” of his own choosing.  In Wisconsin and Ohio, newly minted Governors Scott Walker and John Kasich immediately began plans to gut the public unions by eliminating their collective bargaining rights. 

And in Maine, Paul LePage was elected Governor and the GOP took over the legislature.  LePage immediately signaled his political values by removing from the lobby of the Maine Department of Labor of a mural celebrating Maine’s labor movement, and the GOP-controlled legislature began agitating to make it harder for college students and Democratic-leaning voters to vote.

Too late, the Liberal True Believers woke up and joined with those of us who actually consider it important to vote in every election and tried to undo what they had allowed to happen in the first place – at first, to no avail.  An effort was made to recall Michigan Governor Rick Snyder . . . but failed to gather another signatures by the mandated deadline.  And in Wisconsin six recall elections of state senators were held in an effort to get the senate back in Democratic hands; the Dems needed to win 3 of those six recall elections . . . but won only 2.

Disappointing and disheartening to be sure.  As Georgetown historian Michael Kazin has pointed out, in order to succeed any political movement has “to win things, you have to get people feeling like they have some kind of power.”

So last night’s election results provided a much needed boost for those of us who understand that America needs a strong labor movement in order to preserve what is left of its middle-class, and who cherish making the right of vote – the most fundamental of rights supposedly secured in a democracy – as widely available as possible.

To recap:

·         Ohio voters/union members/working-class citizens succeeded by an overwhelming margin in overturning John Kasich’s bill stripping collective bargaining rights, the first time a 1st-year governor’s signature legislative issue has been summarily rejected by ordinary voters;
·         Maine voters overwhelmingly reinstated same-day voter registration, which had been the law of the land for 38 years before Maine’s new GOP legislature attempted to write it out of existence.


      ·         Mississippi voters rejected an effort by Christian Conservatives to amend Mississippi’s state      constitution so as to legally define fertilized, non-implanted, undifferentiated eggs as “people”;
·         Democrats retained control over the Iowa state Senate, thereby preventing an expected GOP-led effort to overturn Iowa law so as to prohibit gay marriage; and
·         Michigan voters recalled the “union-busting, homophobic Michigan state Representative Paul Scott.”

(In all honesty, I had never heard of Michigan state Rep. Paul Scott before this morning, but for reasons explained here the mere fact he is a Republican politician named “Paul Scott” is conclusive proof that he is a terrible, terrible human being.)

* * *

So . . . it’s nice to wake up after Election Day to what amounts to pretty much a sweep of the nation’s higher profile races.  I’m taking today to savor this feeling.  But there’s another, even more important election only a year from now, and the Other Side doesn’t believe in giving its opponents any real opportunity to rest.

Which means that tomorrow we’re going to have to saddle up again.

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