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Wednesday 3 November 2010

Sanity Is Now Unavoidable

So now almost all the results are in from the US’ Midterm elections. The House has gone Republican, and by some margin: of the 435 seats, the GOP have taken 239, with the Democrats trailing on 185. Those results yet to come will not change matters greatly.

However, the Senate has been a different affair. Just one third of seats were up for grabs, and the GOP failed to win enough of them to secure a majority. Of the races that they lost, those in Delaware and Nevada should give Republican chiefs much to ponder, because they lost both when they should have won.

In Delaware, Democrat Chris Coons looked to be vulnerable, but then his mainstream opponent lost the primary to Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell. From there it was downhill all the way, as O’Donnell’s past, and her views, plus her unwillingness to engage with the media, told against her. Trying to smear Coons as a Marxist was also unsuccessful.

And in Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also faced a Tea Partier, in the form of Sharron Angle. Yet again, Angle was not interested in meeting the media – well, that part which wanted to ask her real questions about real issues, rather than play softball. She alienated minority voters, the result being that Reid took two thirds of the Latino vote, 80% of African American preferences, and three quarters of Asian voters’ picks. His winning margin was 6%.

So, with neither party having a majority in both houses, very little will get done unless there is some measure of bipartisanship. The problem is, the Tea Partiers are not interested in even considering such things, and some of them got elected. Already, new House Majority Leader John Boehner has called for the repeal of health care reform, which I suspect the Dems are not about to gift him.

The only way forward for the next two years is going to be through a dose of that sanity that was on offer at last Saturday’s rally. Otherwise there will be stalemate, a kind of Congressional trench warfare in which neither side will yield. Also, the GOP will have to put some ideas on the table.

And all the while the economic malaise of the USA will remain untreated. This time, the Republicans may come off worst. The party managers will also know that there are more Tea Partiers lining up to challenge mainstream GOP incumbents in 2012.

Barack Obama may not be in such bad shape after all.

[UPDATE: another Tea Partier, Ken Buck, appears to have narrowly lost the Colorado senate race. Three GOP losses that should have been wins, three Tea Party candidates. Anyone out there not get it yet?]

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