Little can be accomplished by all the post-mortem activity over the mid-term elections on Tuesday. Of importance is what happens next. The Republican party and its extremist elements in the “tea party” have swept the U.S. House of Representatives and severely cut into, but not eliminated, the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate.
The Democratic party held a commanding majority in the House for some four years and an almost overwhelming majority in the Senate for two years but was too timid to flex its muscle to push through its full agenda. Congressional Democrats and President Barack Obama did find themselves hamstrung by a Republican Congressional minority that stayed almost exclusively unified in its determination to frustrate their efforts and exploit the anxieties of an electorate filled with voters who lost jobs, who lost homes, who lost patience.
It is all about politics.
Why did the Republican leadership so badly want power? Not through a genuine sense of responsibility that government should unite in times of crisis, as in economic crisis. Not through a genuine sense of responsibility to make for a better America.
The power grab was fueled by tens of millions of dollars poured into the Republican party machine, much of it from secret sources, some probably foreign, with one purpose: to protect the interests of this country’s super wealthy, to stymie programs that would benefit the long-suffering American working class and the poor.
All else was camouflage.
Every action that the Congressional Republicans took in the past two years, and will take in the coming two years, was aimed at advancing the cause of the rich and rolling back the gains of ordinary American.
But the democratic traditions of the United States of America cannot be embraced unless there is a willingness also to embrace the consequences of democratic change, as has just happened. That is something the Democrats have to live with, as had been the case for Republicans when they were thrashed in Congress in 2006, and again in 2008, when they also lost the presidency.
But the problems that America faces cannot be solved by one party, as the Republicans so effectively proved to a substantial Democratic majority. The balance of power now more than ever dictates that the two parties cooperate and compromise or else the gridlock of the past two years will only worsen. But, with the parties now more firmly divided ideologically, there is little chance for cooperation and compromise, unless statesmen or stateswomen from both sides rise above the acrimony that passes for debate and put the interests of the nation above those of themselves and their parties.
It may be overly optimistic to expect that to happen, especially now that campaigning for the 2012 presidential election is already underway but as the new Congress moves into session in January, this, above all else, they must keep in mind: the same people who threw the bums out this time can also throw the bums out next time.