Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Month After the Fact

I had the misfortune of being in the process of moving over the last month, so I really haven't had much of a chance to post anything. I just wanted to post a few post election thoughts.

Am I surprised that the GOP captured both houses of Minnesota's congress? Absolutely. Was I slightly surprised by some of the national level losses (including MN's 8th district)? Sure. Am I surprised to see another major recount? Not so much. Mid term elections are a very reactionary time and it's common for control to change from one party to the other. There are a lot of people who don't necessarily vote for a candidate or party, but against another. If this election were truly about stopping deadlock, you'd expect to see the moderates do well and those with more extreme positions struggle. That's essentially the opposite of what we saw in this election. Most moderates lost their seats and the candidates who are considered far to the left/right generally won their elections without a lot of problems. With the likely election of a DFL governor, it'll be interesting to see how this plays out. I have trouble seeing how a pledge to raise revenues and pledges to not raise taxes can be compromised.

One thing remains certain. Our state has a hard road ahead. Whatever path is taken, there are people who will be hurt by the decisions. Tough choices need to be made and it will be painful. Even with GOP majorities, it looks likely that everything will need to be signed into law by a Democrat. On the national level, President Obama isn't likely to agree to repeal healthcare and bow to the GOP agenda. On  state level, Tom Emmer has a fairly large chunk of votes to make up in order to come out with a victory and it's a long shot for him to be able to do so. If Mark Dayton is certified as our governor, he's also unlikely to just agree to anything the Republicans present him.
I honestly have a hard time believing the GOP will be able to deliver on many of their promises. They have promised tax cuts and deficit reduction. They have pledged to work to elimination of entire government offices and lower unemployment. They have vowed to shrink government but ensure prosperity for more people. These are very hard goals to accomplish simultaneously and contrary to the rhetoric, tax cuts are not a magic bullet. The deficit is looming and there will be painful cuts. Even if these approaches work, they would likely need years to have any impact. And if we've learned anything from Obama's presidency it's that as a nation we have political ADD and demand instant gratification. (How many people have declared that healthcare reform doesn't work when the majority of it hasn't even taken effect yet?) Regardless of how long a plan would take to have any impact, the voters still go to the polls every two years. The tea party may have some surge of popularity among many Conservatives now, but how long can they continue to ride a wave of rallying against the establishment when they ARE the establishment?

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