01 November 2010

Midterm Madness

I don't have much to say about the midterm elections per se. I've mostly given up on political blogging (1) for mental health reasons and (2) because too many other people are doing it better than I can. If you want an educated guess about what's going to happen tomorrow, I recommend this guy's. My general view is that elections are largely decided by economic fundamentals, which would point to huge losses for the incumbent Democrats this year.

The nonstop horse race coverage has become exhausting for all but the most dedicated political junkies. If it were up to me, I'd implement something resembling the British electoral system (no television advertising, wrap the whole thing up in no more than a couple months), but as this would require changing the Constitution multiple times, it's probably never going to happen. It would appear that the nonstop freak show that is American politics is here to stay.

Liberals are understandably downcast about the likelihood of significant Republican gains tomorrow, but let's can it with all the wailing and gnashing of teeth. It may not look like it now, but these past two years have been pretty good ones for the progressive agenda, the headwinds of a depressed economy and unprecedented political obstructionism notwithstanding. Those headwinds may have diminished some of the accomplishments of the Obama administration, but they have not stopped the president's agenda (with the noteworthy exception of the Senate's failure to pass climate-change legislation).

Most significant, Obama won a historic victory on the issue of health care, shepherding to passage a bill that, while flawed and hardly the last word on the subject, forever enshrines into American law the principle that the government must act to ensure its citizens have access to the health-care system. The next Congress will not be able to undo that, nor will any future Congress. Electoral majorities come and go, but these kinds of substantive victories are what it's all about.