Days of Change

You Are Who You Vote For

October 6, 2014
1 Comment

Why did 2010 happen?

Political calculus often tends to be in the eye of the beholder. I’ve written about how 2010 was a wave election because it moved over 60 seats in the House and 12-13 in the Senate to the Republican column. Not only were the net gains for Republicans big, hardly any seats turned to Democrat challengers. It seemed to be a wide-ranging repudiation of Democrats for the last 2-4 years in power.

Then it wasn’t.

Democrats made sure to target Senate seats, and more importantly, the densely populated urban centers of “purple” battleground states. Democrats gained ground in the House and Senate and the president, who is essentially king of the Democrats, won his election by a small popular margin.

2014 is a maybe year. Twenty years ago, Republicans made a big move by winning the Senate (first time in 8 years) and the House (first time in 40). Since then, the tables have turned a few times. Six years, two years. A couple of times, Democrats lost to Republicans after only a few months. On the other hand, the presidents during that time (Clinton, Bush and Obama) all had two terms.

The Supreme Court chose not to hear two lower federal court ruling that upheld other court decisions that lifted gay marriage bans. However you feel about the issue, it doesn’t pass by popular referendum. Gay marriage does not survive direct democracy. Better yet, most gay marriage begins by court order and not even through legislative means. Now, if people really didn’t want gay marriage, they would have to either vote for the judges or the people who vote for the judges they want, but it’s not really a voting priority. Obama only made it a campaign priority when wealthy gay donors were holding back money in 2012.

The Founders of the country tried to make a system of government where the legislature did not also choose the executive. That has mostly been the case, but the larger goal of a government without parties failed. In fact, the United States has consistently only had room for two parties at a time. Even local politicians tend to put party goals ahead of their constituents.

The trend seems to be toward dissatisfaction. Voters want a party that works for them. Say and do the “right” things and the people come to the polls. Do the wrong thing, or nothing, and people stay home. In 1994, the Republicans won on the Contract for America. In 2006, Republicans gave up their pledge to self-imposed term limits and paid for it. In 2006, Democrats ran on ending the Iraq War. By 2010, the US gave up. In 2009, the Republicans fought like their lives depended on blocking the Democrats and they won big. Doing the same thing and getting good results probably means you should keep doing it.

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