It could have been worse for the country. The silliest of the Tea Party types might have won. We can survive, probably, with Rand Paul and Marco Rubio.
But like Bill Clinton and George W. Bush before him, Barack Obama has now lost the House on his watch. And by such a large margin that, most likely, it will take some years before the Democrats get it back.
The Democrats welcomed a few new stars--it won’t be long before Colorado Governor-elect John Hickenlooper and Senator-elect Joe Manchin of West Virginia make themselves known around the country.
And there is a certain grandness to the liberal defeat. When they ran in 2008, the Democrats made no secret about what they would do when it came to tax policy, healthcare reform, green energy, a crackdown on Wall Street, and making college affordable. And once they were elected, they went out and did it. The Democrats lost the political argument, but let’s see the Republican majority keep its promises so well.
How will the Republicans create jobs for Americans with timid little chips at discretionary spending? How will they tame Medicare while keeping all those seniors who voted for them happy? How will they reduce the debt with big tax cuts for the wealthy?
At least Senator-elect Rand Paul of Kentucky was honest last night. We all work for the rich, he told a television interviewer, so deal with it. If we cut their taxes there may be jobs building their yachts.
Volatility remains the key word in post-Reagan American politics. Since Ronnie left for California, the House has flipped, re-flipped, and flipped again.
The economy is the only reliable predictor. It dipped under a one-term Republican president, soared under a two-term Democrat, and crashed under a two-term Republican whose economic legacy left his party in shambles. And now last night. If they want to keep the Senate and the White House, the Democrats will need signs of a return to prosperity by 2012. The clock keeps ticking.