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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Mr. Perspective On The Midterms

Once again I put on the hat of my alter ego, Mr. Perspective, to offer some things you may not know about yesterday's election:

Much is being made of the Democrats losing seven seats in the Senate, with pundits calling it a referendum on how unpopular President Obama is. But as usual, they haven't offered any historical perspective. So let's look at what happened to the last five two-term presidents in their sixth year in office...

  • In 2006, under George W. Bush, Republicans lost 6 Senate seats.
  • In 1986, under Ronald Reagan, Republicans lost 8 Senate seats.
  • In 1966, under Lyndon Johnson, Democrats lost 3 Senate seats.
  • In 1956, under Dwight Eisenhower, Republicans lost 13 Senate seats (!!).
We could go back further, but in the last century, there's only one president who didn't lose any Senate seats in his sixth year in office: Bill Clinton -- even in the midst of Republicans trying to impeach him!

Bottom line: seven seats lost by the Democrats under Obama isn't out of the ordinary. Sure, it means the GOP now controls both houses of Congress, which means more investigations over ginned-up charges by committee after committee (because that will make America a better place). And I'll bet it won't even take until the end of January before Mitch McConnell is whining that those damn Democrats keep filibustering all the important legislation he wants to pass -- which Obama's going to veto, anyway.

As Steve Roberts commented this morning on my KTRS show, one thing to watch is how few federal appointees are okayed by McConnell's Senate, including 63 federal judge openings that remain unfilled, not to mention the Surgeon General. And if something happens to Ruth Bader Ginsburg (or any other Supreme Court Justice) in the next two years, there's going to be a hell of a fight.

Questions no one else in the media is asking today to challenge bogus claims from the pundit class:
  • If this election was about anger with Washington and a "throw the bums out" feeling from the electorate, why did more than 90% of the incumbents in Congress hold onto their offices?
  • If we were throwing the bums out, why were these six incumbents, all indicted for crimes ranging from tax fraud to ethics charges to embezzlement to tampering with evidence, re-elected?
  • If this election was confirmation that the country is now more conservative, why did four deeply red states (Alaska, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Arkansas) vote to raise the minimum wage -- while electing members of Congress who oppose that increase!).
  • While you're at it, note that marijuana is becoming legal in two more states (Oregon and Alaska) and the District Of Columbia. I doubt a single Republican candidate campaigned for that.
There's also a lot of back-patting over the fact that we now have 100 women in Congress. That's just under 19%, a sad figure compared to other countries. As Beenish Ahmed points out, that ties us for 85th in the world, behind such progressive nations as China, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, and Saudi Arabia. Yes, we're behind Saudi Arabia, where women can't drive and are barely allowed out of the house without a male family member. They have more women in their legislature than the United States Of America.

Speaking of women, their turnout in this election was the lowest it's been since 1992. Numbers were also near record lows for minorities and young voters. Without those constituencies going to the polls, Democrats can't win. Unfortunately for Republicans, those folks will show up for the presidential election in two years.

There are many election modifications I'd like to see, beginning with better use of technology to make it easier to vote (I know this has no chance of passing while the GOP owns state legislatures that purposely keep the voting population suppressed). And, if you want more younger Americans to participate: 1) allow people to take selfies with their ballots and post them on social media; and 2) allow voters to use Tinder to find and then hit on other voters at the polling places.

Finally, I'd pass a law that says that the loser of any election must go out the morning after and pick up all the signs both they and their opponent stuck on lawns or any public place, by noon, or face a fine for littering. Talk about election consequences!

Here's my conversation with Steve Roberts. Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!