Category Archives: the 2013 elections

What Does This Off-Year Election Mean?

What did yesterday’s election tell us? Our sample of outcomes was so small that there is little that we can say that would predict 2014 or even the more distant 2016 election. Yes a Democrat won in New York and that might show an urban exhaustion with the extremism of the Tea Party, but that is not all that unusual for a northern urban area, and Lhota is no Bloomberg. New York City mayoral elections are not, I think, a bellwether for future national elections. Bloomberg served a long time in NYC and the city was probably ready to change parties.

Many of us believed that Terry McAuliffe would win handily in Virginia over Ken Cuccinelli, but the election was actually very close, too close to draw the conclusion that Virginia will be a reliably purple state in the future. Ken Cuccinelli’s prissiness about 21st century sexuality may have been the sword that impaled him. He wasn’t the most lovable guy even if his puritanical statements and policies are set aside. But as feelings about the Affordable Care Act are running high, those feelings may have given him back some of the vote. As for Chris Christie in New Jersey, he is still riding the waves of his pretty much stellar behavior after Sandy tore apart the Jersey shore. He is not all that lovable when you get right down to it and if we are so enamored of sarcastic and outspoken men it is mostly a sad commentary on how few politicians speak their minds or show individualized personalities. To me, except for that Sandy support, he is just another extreme Right Winger, not really moderate enough to help bridge the partisan divide. If America ends up with what he’s peddling we will soon be an unhappy nation.

What I am seeing is that the fever has not broken. The groundwork laid by those ever-so-popular radio hosts, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and now Mark Levin runs deep in America and these guys continue to contribute extreme and hateful nonsense to this steamy pile, this celebration of white male supremacy day by day on, of all media, in this century, radio.

 The very first time I happened to tune into Glenn Beck on FOX TV, before he lost his show, I was shocked to hear someone express these messages that were so wrong, but so carefully crafted to appeal to white people who were learning that they would become the new minority in America. This is not even true. Unless all the minority groups in America merge into one special interest group that votes as a bloc, and how likely is that, no one minority group will overtake non black/brown, non-Hispanic/Latino Americans. However, these groups really do live in America, they are citizens, they have been discriminated against, and they are gaining in education and influence, a very scary prospect for those who turn on the radio daily to listen to reminders of how white Christian Americans could and will lose control of America unless they rise up.

These talking guys have done a great job of riling up blue collar Americans, and white collar American men are quick to capitalize on the break they are catching due to these vituperations. These pundits are guys who have put their “warnings” in writing, whose message is that the America we all know and love is dying, being subverted, and that the vigilant must stop the corrosion and “take America back”. There is no doubt that their tireless energy and their message, however reactionary, has resulted in the Tea Party phenomenon we are trying to understand today. It is a movement of nostalgia, a movement that longs to recapture supposedly simpler times, like the 50’s (and for big business the 1890’s). It is a movement that even wants to put American women back in their “proper” place.  This actually may be the last hurrah of white paternalism or the beginning of a Fundamentalist state, depending on which way America jumps. The 2014 election may give us a better picture of whether we will be undoing everything we have done over the last 5 decades (undoing everything that we will eventually have to do over again) or moving forward, however reluctantly. Every planet goes retrograde sometimes. This election did not show us what will happen next. The partisan divide holds.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

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