Well the results are in, and Election 2010 has come to a close. I find it hard to imagine anyone more excited about that than I. Then again, if what I heard during my travels on Election Day is true, many people were more interested in this job interview process being over, than they were in the outcome. It seemed I wasn’t the only person election weary.
But does it mean anything that Republicans will pick up six seats in the Senate and about 63 in the House of Representatives? In procedural terms, it means Democrats have a smaller majority in the Senate, but since they lacked the consistent 60 votes needed to halt debate before this election, I’m not sure how much this changes things in that chamber. In the House, in practical terms, it means a new majority leader and that the third man from the presidency, if the president and vice president are unable to serve, is a Republican.
How will it impact the pace and work of government? I’m not convinced it will, in any appreciable way, change much of anything.
There were reports that voters leaving the polls said they felt “worse off” now than two years ago, and I would have to agree with that. But the truth is, two years ago, we felt “worse off” than the four and eight years before that. Since it is unrealistic to think you will repair eight years of continual economic decline in two years – especially in circumstances where non-conventional approaches to resolving problems are minimized or destroyed by a significant bloc of Congress – I don’t see much hope for change or believe that I will, in two more years, feel any better about the economy.
As an aside, I find it amazing we added more obstructions to a process that was already dysfunctional. Our capacity, in my never again to be humble opinion, for acting outside our own best interest is amazing.
As I looked at the news reports and the voting maps with the blue and red blotches, hoping for insight into what “message the voters were sending,” I decided, despite all the other pundit and analysts’ conclusions, there was no collective message.
Sixty-three House seats tilt the scale in the other direction, but that’s not a message— at least not at a national level. I think that trying to grab a national mandate from the fact that 63 pockets of people across the nation felt someone else could better represent them in Congress, is like bad sampling in a poll. You can believe it says something all you like, but you never really know what because you aren’t looking at the right data.
Finally, did President Barack Obama’s job get harder? Maybe, but it’s been so hard already, I’m not so sure he’ll notice. But I’d like to believe the newly elected members of Congress and the new Republican leadership in the House will realize how quickly the wind shifts and that if people don’t start to feel better about their personal circumstances in two years, they are going to vote again for different representatives.
We want a change we can feel in our daily lives, and soon. Huh…maybe there’s a national message after all?
Talibah Chikwendu is the executive editor for the AFRO-American Newspapers and a former columnist for the newspaper.