The People Haven't Spoken--They Swore
My willow tree still held it's same spot in the back yard when I woke up this morning, and the driveway felt to be intact as I backed out of the garage and headed into work at oh-dark-thirty.
The same cannot be said of the political landscape--locally, statewide or across the country.
A Republican wave swept over the nation. The GOP controls the House, having won 60 seats as I write this early Wednesday a.m. Scott Walker is Wisconsin's new governor. Ron Johnson is the state's first GOP Senator since Robert Kasten 18 years ago. David Obey's northern Wisconsin Congressional district, a solid blue bastion during his four decades in D-C, now belongs to Republican Sean Duffy. Steve Kagen's gone, too, defeated by Republican Reid Ribble. Hell, even "Snarlin'" Marlin Schneider of Wisconsin Rapids saw his 40 year Madison reign come to an end. The only thing the Democrats have to hang their hat on statewide is Doug LaFollette. He kept his job (just what his job IS, we don't know) but by what, for him, was probably an uncomfortably small margin.
The biggest Wisconsin winner could be Congressman Paul Ryan who sailed to a new term and is poised to become chairman of the Budget Committee as part of the GOP House takeover.
The network love he received from election night pundits was the kind seldom showered upon a lawmaker from these parts. The Ryan star remains in ascension.
I have the silver hair of an expert, but certainly not the political chops. But having been through a few of these things during my decades schlepping along on this rock, I can seldom remember such a vote-the-scoundrels-out mentality. Usually, voters are angry at the OTHER guy's scoundrels while choosing to send their own back for a new term.
Not in 2010. A CNBC reporter's rant on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange is credited for birthing the Tea Party, and the waves are still rippling over the country. ABC's Sam Donaldson told us Tuesday morning that people are angry, especially those who don't have a job. I get that, but a lot of the folks I see with the reddest faces are employed, well-off, with kids in fine schools and businesses that are still chugging away. Where is THEIR rage coming from? Are they upset for their jobless friends and neighbors, or are they just P-O'd about 2008?
I don't know, but Tuesday's results show us who they took it out on.
Those who ran against "career politicians" will now have to show us what they have. Some chose not to give specific plans or ideas during the campaign, and hopefully their vocabulary will include something more than the word "no", lest Washington become a gridlocked swamp. Pointing at an incumbant and running on a platform of "I'm not him!" worked quite well this election cycle. What happens the next time around, when there is meat on the bones and there is a voting record that can be taken into account?
What then of the outside money that streamed into the coffers of candidates of both parties this election cycle? The Supreme Court cleared the way for that new development under the guise of "free speech." I don't get what's "free" about "speech" that gets bought off a radio/TV rate card. It's certainly the purchaser's right to make the buy, but doesn't the voter deserve to know who's cash is behind the commercial, and why someone two time zones away is so interested in who wins their Senate/House/Legislative seat? "Money doesn't talk--it swears," Bob Dylan once said. The same can be said for we the people in 2010.
The election is over. The airwaves are now clear for Black Friday and the Norelco Santa.
Lame ducks hobble to Washington to wrap up their terms and to clean out their desks. Change comes in January.
The willow is still in the backyard. At least, it was when I left this morning.