Simple. We keep at it. (Not that you needed me to tell you that.) And it would have been true no matter how last night turned out.
In my lifetime, no President in his seventh and eighth years has enjoyed control of either house of Congress.
Not Eisenhower, not Reagan, not Clinton, not Bush, and — now — not Obama.
But that was no reason not to try.
I regret not a dime or an hour spent trying to break that precedent.
It was a horrible night, but nothing has changed:
The Earth, I believe, is still more than 9,000 years old; climate change is still a tremendous problem; our infrastructure is still crumbling — even as there are still un- and under-employed Americans eager for work revitalizing it.
Most Americans still favor the American Jobs Act that would put those un- and under-employed Americans back to work (but that the Republicans block) . . . still favor the comprehensive immigration reform that economists say would boost our economy (but that the Republicans block) . . . still favor the $10.10 minimum wage and “universal background checks” and the Employment Nondiscrimination Act that the Republicans block . . . still favor the Medicare expansion funds the Republicans reject . . . still favor the benefits of the Affordable Care Act that the Republicans tried so hard to block, voted 52 times to repeal, and then spent $418 million in negative TV spots to mischaracterize . . . still favor refinancing federal student loan at today’s low rates . . . and the rights of women to make difficult choices in consultation with their doctors without government-mandated vaginal probes.
And yet we failed to make the case.
(The predominant focus these last few weeks was instead on the Ebola pandemic, the American death toll from which has now soared, I am compelled to report, to . . . still zero.)
Sure we got unemployment down in two years to where Mitt Romney promised to get it after four — and all the rest: an averted depression, a record-high stock market, a rescued auto industry, a healthy housing market, a strong dollar, a plummeting deficit, health care security, two wars ended, Bin Laden dead.
But if only we had George W. Bush back, the electorate seemed to be saying last night! If only we could have had McCain/Palin these last six years instead of Obama/Biden! If only we could have Mitch McConnell and John Boehner running everything, not just Congress!
It makes no sense to me, but neither does putting a climate change denier in charge of the House Space and Technology committee (and now, very possibly, another in charge of the Senate Environment Committee — see his book calling climate change a “conspiracy”).
So last night was horrible, and further retards what could otherwise actually be a terrific time for our country (which is already enjoying better economic times than almost any other).
All we’d have to do to jump into high gear would be to pass the American Jobs Act, hike the minimum wage, sign immigration reform into law (and allow student loan refinancing, for good measure). We’d see employment and wages rise, inequality and the deficit fall, keep our bridges from collapsing . . . a long-term virtuous cycle ours to grab — that receded further out of reach yesterday.
But that was yesterday.
Now we have to get back to work . . . make what progress we can on these and other issues over the next two years . . . and then hold the White House and win back Congress in 2016. (Not least by re-taking the many blue-state Senate seats lost in the 2010 Republican landslide.)
So many of my friends think the whole process stinks and just wish the two parties could be moderate and sensible and straight-talking and all the rest.
So do I.
But as I’ve argued before, it’s not equivalent. Their moderates get primaried out by uncompromising extremists; ours do not. As a result, their remaining moderates are rightly afraid of a Koch-financed primary, and so refuse to compromise. Our moderates have no reason to fear a primary, so do not fear compromise. Huge difference.
My friends also hate all the strident emails and constant appeals for funds.
But when I start to resent the burden, I remind myself that I didn’t have to risk my life in Iraq or slog through the jungles of Vietnam or, for that matter, freeze in a tent at Valley Forge. My big service to my country, my big hardship, is writing a lot of checks and having to delete thousands of emails. I feel as though I’ve gotten off easy.
Ralph Nader gave us the president who gave us the Court that rendered decisions like Citizens United and McCutcheon and gutted the Voting Rights Act, giving the Kochs et al even more power to swing elections their way — and perhaps tighten their grip still further.
So winning in 2016 will not be easy.
Which is why I plan to go to the movies for a couple of days and then get back to asking folks for support.
After 5 billion years leading up to this geological nanosecond, our ridiculous but miraculous little species — 7.2 billion passengers on an all but infinitesimal speck of a spaceship — have just a few decades to get on a sustainable trajectory. If we do, we’re on the cusp of all but unimaginable well-being. If we don’t, we’re on the brink of disaster.
So it matters, and it’s interesting, and it amazes me how many people only care which candidate they’d rather have a beer with. Or who don’t even vote at all.
Quote of the Day
A black man voting for the Republicans makes about as much sense as a chicken voting for Col. Sanders.~James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name
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