It's official. Election Day 2010 is almost over.
The Democrats have retained control of the Senate. The Republicans have regained control of the Congress. The Tea Party made a statement in Kentucky and Florida but their candidates went way too far with their hateful, and often bizarre, rhetoric in Nevada, West Virginia and Delaware. And, in spite of two years of remarkable legislative accomplishments, the Democrats took a beating and so did some of their friends.
Tea Party Candidate, Rand Paul is going to Washington. Floridians turned their back on a really good governor in Charlie Crist. At the time that this is being written, it looks like a write-in candidate is going to win the Senate race in Alaska. And, one of the most honorable men in politics, Senator Russ Feingold went down in defeat (a heartbreaking loss for Wisconsin, Progressives and the hope of real campaign finance reform),
On the other hand, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled out a hard fought win. Jerry Brown is back at the helm of California. African Americans. Latinos and young people proved that they DO VOTE. And, mercifully we've all been spared Sarah Palin protege, Christine O'Donnell and years of jokes about witches.
The best tweet of the day was Roseanne Cash's comment about John Boehner's use of her father's memory. The strangest moment on television was Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC trying to get an answer to a simple question from Rep. Eric Cantor. The "liberal left" was blamed for Blanche Lincoln's loss in Arkansas. And no modern era election night would be complete if someone didn't complain about the media projecting a race winner too soon.
When it's all said and done, this has been the most expensive non-presidential election year campaign season in history. The political pundits and campaign managers will be analyzing election results until they're blue in the face. So rather than repeat what you've heard all evening, I'll leave you with this post election reflection.
This election has been all about the economy but What If?
What if the Obama administration had realized from the beginning that the kids across the aisle just don't play nice?
What if, in 2009, the newly inaugurated Obama administration had responded to calls from the Democratic base ( aka the professional left ) to investigate the misdeeds of the Bush/Cheney administration?
What if for the past two years the American people had been reminded that the Bush administration inherited a budget surplus from the Clinton years which they, in turn, squandered, leaving the largest budget deficit in history?
What if for the past two years the national political dialogue had included a real discussion of the cost of the Iraq war (which was entered into under false pretenses) and how those costs contributed to the national debt?
And what if the American people had been reminded day after day that the corporate friends of Bush/Cheney (Haliburton, Blackwater, KBR, et. al) made billions from the government contracts secured during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?
What if the Democrats had reminded the American people that the bank bailout was a parting gift from the Bush administration?
And what if the Democrats had reminded the American people day after day after day that the deregulation policies of the Bush era lead to the housing crisis and the great exodus of US jobs to foreign shores?
What if the Obama administration and the 111th Congress had realized early in the game that when you have an opponent on the ropes, you keep him there.
Oh well, hindsight is 20/20 and none of us will ever know.
Today's reality is that the Democrats have two years of landmark policy accomplishments to their credit but weren't able to convince much of the American public to stay the course.
Yet, what if, it's true that "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". As Senator Barbara Boxer told her supporters after winning her bid for re-election, her opponents threw everything at her but the kitchen sink, with money from known and unknown sources. Yet she overcame it all.
So what if, in some strange way, this all works to the Democrats' advantage. After all, now the Republican controlled 112th Congress will have to "man-up" and put up or shut up. And best of all, the Republicans won't have Nancy Pelosi to demonize in 2012.
What if, having to survive near death political death during campaign 2010, it just what the Democrats' needed to re-energize the base?