While reporting on last night’s disaster, liberal outlets from MSNBC to BlueJersey.com (which I write for), have been trying to put a positive spin on the election even as they report the end of “change we can believe in.” Yes, Harry Reid held back the nuttiest of the wing nuts. Yes, Rush Holt, one of the few remaining progressives held back the well-financed campaign of a Tea Party candidate in New Jersey. But overall, this election has set America on a course from which it may never recover.
In January, two of the three branches of government will be controlled by the extreme fringe. With a dysfunctional Senate virtually tied, the House of Representatives and John “Hell No We Can’t” Boehner will control the legislative agenda. (And Boehner will be second in line for the presidential succession after Joe Biden). Even before the election, the Republican leadership treasonously stated that their first priority was to stop President Obama, and it looks like they succeeded. Maybe the Tea Partiers relish gridlock, but in today’s world, doing nothing really means accelerating backwards.
The radicalization of the other branch of government, the Supreme Court, started decades ago when Ronald Reagan put Antonin Scalia on the court. The Bush nominees further radicalized the Court, and the two liberal Clinton justices are in their 70s. Even Barack Obama’s two justices are less liberal than the ones they replaced. And in today’s Senate environment, don’t expect any additional Obama nominees to be any better.
With the Fourth Estate firmly in the hands of its corporate masters and Republican operatives, that leaves only the President standing between the destructive Tea Party agenda and the revitalization of the middle class. While he made great strides in his first two years, they fell far short of the potential of what could have been had the president been more effective in dealing with a congress controlled by his own party.
Some pundits posit that the political system follows a pendulum – swinging from left to right periodically. But the leftward swings have been short-lived, and a better analogy would be that of a saddle – what physicists call an unstable system. Think of a marble in the center of a saddle with a small depression at the point where the cowboy’s tuchus sits. You can move it an inch or two in one direction and the marble will move back to the low point in the center. But if you move the marble too far – past the lip of the depression – it will fall to the ground. We may have just moved the American political system too far in one direction.
So it’s time to hunker down. America survived Ronald Reagan. We may even survive the havoc wreaked by George W Bush – that’s too early to determine. Whether America can survive the takeover of its government by the Tea Party and their corporate sponsors is now our biggest worry.