After last night's election results, it has become pretty clear what gobs of campaign cash from secret corporate donors will do to America's democratic process – thanks to a right-wing Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case.
While the outcome may not be attributable entirely to that single cause, it certainly played a huge role. Indeed, the election could be regarded as little more than a corporate coup against U.S. democracy. Clearly, this wasn't a grassroots upsurge, but a corporate movement that used the voices of Tea Party people to link the corporate agenda of lower taxes for the rich, limits on environmental and Wall Street regulation, globalization, etc. to a reform-in-name only movement.
Consider the failure of major Tea Party candidates. What does this mean? Simply that corporate and establishment Republicans rode the Tea Party wave into power and left that movement behind. Expect to hear nothing of the Tea Party in a few months.
And if you weren't sure what the GOP is all about, newly elected Republicans are vowing to stick it to the unemployed in order to pay for new tax cuts for the rich.
Early numbers indicate that most Democratic losses were in "lean Republican" districts and states that were won in recent election cycles, mostly in the Midwest and the South, an indication of no major national ideological shift. The biggest single chunk came out of the Democrat's right-wing, the Blue Dog caucus, revealing that posing as Democrats holds little meaning for voters. According to one report:
...the conservative Blue Dog Democratic caucus was more than sliced in half from 54 members to only 26. Further, of the 34 conservative Dems who voted against Obama's Healthcare Reform, a mere 12 won re-election.
In addition, President Obama's campaign push in the final weeks of the campaign helped Democratic candidates and energized many Democratic voters. His call for building a stronger movement for change should be heeded.
A study of the impact of racist messages by Republican candidates and voter suppression will follow.
Analysis of the labor movement's role in preventing worse losses will also follow.
What can we hope for? A Democratic Senate will check the ultra-right agenda the Republicans push in the House. President Obama will be a stop-gap for much of their craziness.
However, there will be a great amount of pressure to pass a compromise agenda that sees a mixture of harmful social program budget cuts to pay for more tax cuts for the rich, a push for more war in Central Asia, a halt on meaningful civil rights and environmental legislation, a renewed struggle over health reform – not to improve it, but to scale it back, and an even bigger backlash against immigrants.
As wasteful and despicable as it would be, it might be somewhat amusing to see Republicans try to fulfill their ultimate fantasy of launching investigations into the President's birth certificate and the like. It would be such a distraction and such a miserable failure that voters would tire quickly. We could see a recall election in a few weeks.
I don't think the Democrats should be afraid to push forward in this lame duck session. I expect, however, they will be disinclined to do much. Perhaps the DREAM Act, an important law that will provide tens of thousands of immgirant youths a path to citizenship through public service, perhaps a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," maybe a new jobs bill. Mostly hand-wringing and finger-pointing. The usual.
Regardless of these possibilities, it is time to close ranks behind this president. Now is not the time to falter or to get queasy. Rebulding for the next election will be a monumental balancing act: blocking the GOP's agenda, making legislative gains when and where possible, fighting for economic recovery, labor law reform, environmental protections, and civil rights measures, supporting the president's planned troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan in 2011, as well as promoting unity among left and center forces for 2012.