Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Mid-term Shuffle

The Republicans have controlled Congress for most of my adult life. I vividly remember the upset mid-term elections when the Republicans rolled into power – I was driving across upstate New York in a near-blizzard, on my way from Richard Rose’s farm in West Virginia to a Vipassana meditation center in Massachussetts. NPR had interview after interview about the shift, and what it meant, and how it came about. By and large it was hailed as a “message from the electorate,” and what it meant was voters were concerned about moral issues and having less government.

And now everything shifts the other way, and nothing much is different. NPR is still running lots of stories about the shift and what it means. Once again everyone is hailing it as a message from the electorate, but the meaning of the message is a little fuzzier. Everyone, even the Republicans, agree that it means, “We’re unhappy.” The Democrats are hoping that it means, “Republican philosophy is bankrupt, let’s roll with the Dems for a while.” I think it’s more true to say it means, “We’re sick of these fools taking our votes for granted, and we’re disappointed in our leadership, but not their underlying philosophy.” But even that’s a sweeping generalization – more than likely it can be reduced to, “Why are fighting this war, again?”

The Democrats can be happy with their victory – I know what it feels like to struggle as the underdog organization for decades at a stretch. But I would caution them against being too pleased with themselves. That is, after all, what the Republicans did. They had a few decisive issues to push them over the top – but the war is going to end some day, and the Dems don’t have a unifying direction to hold their coalition of swing-voters together. The momentum is probably strong enough to take them to the White House in two years, but I predict another mid-term swing back to Republican control in 2010, just in time to thwart any major changes. The red states will be back again soon enough, just as soon as the GOP fields some people worth showing up for.



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