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delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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US Midterms question
delirium happy
I'm far from an expert in US politics. I am, however, an interested observer. I was wondering if someone from leftpondia could explain something to me. As I understand things, the state of play is something like this:

The Bush administration is massively unpopular at the moment.
Historically, it is rare for one party to have control of the presidency, the senate, and the house of representatives.
Before these elections, the Republicans did so.
The Democrats now have a reasonable majority in the house.
The absolute best they can hope for in the senate (with Virginia and Montana still uncertain) is for no party to have an overall majority, but for Democrats to be in control due to support of independants.

And yet, the Democrats seem to be celebrating this like it's some massive victory. As far as I can see, this isn't a victory at all. It's achieving the sort of base minimum of where they should be, inspite of mass dissolusionment with the opposition. To me, these results are saying "well really, we're only voting for you as the least worst option, but you don't excite us at all".

So my question is whether there's something else going on that I just don't grasp (very likely), or whether the great big celebration is all a show (fairly likely), or whether the people involved are too dumb to realise they could be doing a whole lot better (less likely, but not beyond the realms of possibility). Explain, anyone?

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You forget that the Republicans also control the Supreme Court, which basically means all our checks and balances are in ONE party's control. This is, essentially, why we have had 6 years of rampant corruption, lies, lack of oversight, and general running amok of one party over another.

This is a victory because the Democrats finally have some control over *something*. For the past 6 years, we have been crying out because the abuses we can all plainly see go unchecked. The Republicans have done nothing to save the nation from their worst members.

Our country needs to have a divided government. I hate to admit it, because I really believe the Republican party is run by horrible, horrible people with terribly flawed ideology, but we need some balance.

Also, retaking the Senate is a big deal when you realize that only 1/3 of the 100 seats were up for re-election, and most of those up were Democrats or Independents. So, there were 33 seats available, and only 10 of them were held by Republicans. Democrats needed to take 6 of the Republican seats in order to gain control of the Senate, in addition to keeping their own 22 seats, and they're within reach of that goal. That's why it's a big victory-- winning 28 out of 33 available seats is a big deal.

Well, I don't have any statistics to back me up here, but I don't think it's that uncommon for the president & congress to be of the same party. Anyway, it's not a good omen for the president's party to lose control of congress in the midterms, unless in the following two years they can somehow blame a deadlocked congress for the country's ills. There is obviously a big problem in the Democratic party right now, which is that it's allowed itself to be defined as the anti-Bush party. It's hard to get people to get excited about that kind of "platform" (if one could even call it that). But the bottom line is, yeah, a lot of people over here are just plain DUMB about a lot of things.

Two things stopped it being a much bigger victory.
  1. The House is gerrymandered. I mean, really gerrymandered
    • When Gingrich won with Contract of America, many many more seats were competetive
    • Both sides have colluded to make their seats as safe as possible, so that incumbents are hard to shift. Look at these districts in Georgia and Texas for example, both rigged to make them safe
  2. Only a third of the Senate was up for election, and the timing of when Senators get re-elected is a mystery to me.

Basically, if it was a straight 'every seat is up for grabs' job, they'd have won much bigger, but it wasn't.

Also, USian commentators don't seem to do basic analytical tricks like swing analysis and similar. Even finding out what the vote percentages were in some of the seats is a pain in the arse. I plan to did out some data and do what I can, but it appears to have been pretty big.

I'm also interested in this, my reading of the Democrat campaign is basically "vote for us, we're not them". Celebration that you only got things back how they should have been in the first place seems misplaced.

Of course, I'm not an American and have a very narrow and probably biased view of America and American politics. To be honest, just keeping up to date with UK politics is enough work.

I'm turning cartwheels because these results actually suggest that maybe, just maybe, it was a more-or-less honest election -- unlike the 2004 one.

[conspiracy hat]
It's all done to lull the (legitimate) complainers into looking like loons. No fraud this time, stand down, etc. Then, next time, when it really matters, people'll be less likely to believe the wolf calls. It's what I would do if I was an evil nasty Rep strategist. I'm not though, so it might be just my tinfoil hat isn't working...

I don't understand politics one whit, but I wanted to say...

Leftpondia. Wheeee!!!!

The House can block the Senate. We won't get to fix anything, but we can stop a lot of the rampant evil. We've had 5 years of rampant evil with no end in sight, and for many of us, we've been screaming about how our country is dying as a free nation and watching our fellow citizens support the people doing it. In 2004, everything was obviously a mess and the Republicans were obviously evil - and yet many, many citizens still supported them. We're celebrating that the people finally agree with us that this is a problem and needs to stop. We're celebrating because we are just barely, barely starting to turn it around, and we're hoping we can keep going. We're celebrating because it's the first tiny beam of light in ages of darkness and dammit we need something to celebrate, and we've gotten so used to getting depressed after elections.

And we're celebrating a bunch of small victories. Pombo got voted out in California - he seems to be corrupt, so I'm glad he's gone. It was not an obvious thing that that would happen. I have friends and my lothario has family in Virginia, and they really, really want to get Allen out, and it looks like they may have. One of my housemates is from Kentucky, and they finally had an incumbent who has never been liked but always managed to barely hang on be voted out by someone who seems really great. There's a lot of small local stuff that will help our neighborhoods and states. And also, of course, losses. But it's not all losses.

And given how very much was going against us, how huge a victory we needed to get control of Congress, the fact that we got it, got more than anyone really expected, that's a huge sign both for what the people can do there and for what the general population wants.

It's not like I like the Democrats. I like some particular Democrats, but I don't like the party. I just think they're closer to what I want. I don't want rampant Democrat power or even for people to love the Democratic party. I want people to dislike both parties, but try to vote intelligently and to stop reelecting people who do horrible things.

We've lost so many rights in just 5 years. Torture is now legal. Holding people without a lawyer or any sort of judicial process is now legal... sort of, I assume the courts will do something about that eventually, but in the meantime... We're losing all of our basic freedoms and church and state are being entangled. So, we're glad to see any sort of progress toward stopping that. We know it'll take a long time to clean up the damage done, and we still have a long way to go, but this gives us much better odds for 2008 and 2010...

I guess what it all comes down to is - we might be able to fix this. Just maybe. And so we're pleased.

Oh, and also... as much as gay marriage took a beating, the minimum wage went up in several states. This is long overdue, and it may have a really large effect on a lot of people. It's not as glamorous as taking control of the House, but it's really important. And it's something that I know people are celebrating, but not always remembering to mention.

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