On the talk shows yesterday I heard various talking heads opining about how many seats the Republicans would take in the House and Senate. The same opining is going on across the blogosphere. In general, those who lean Right - both officials and pundits - are predicting big Republican gains; actual Democratic officials are predicting smaller Republican gains (what else can they do?); and non-officials who lean Left are attempting to explain that big Republican gains would not be so very big in context or explain that big gains would not really be a result of general unhappiness with the direction of the current Administration and Congress.
I listen to all these predictions and I think that anyone trying to predict tomorrow’s outcome is nuts. I have this sense of a large mass of people who are unhappy with everyone in government. Not unhappy in a “poor me, I’m so put upon” way; unhappy in a “what the heck has happened around here” way. Trying to predict which way that cat will jump seems fraught with peril.
Take me, for instance. I’m going to vote straight Republican tomorrow. But what I really want is a Big Red Button ( hereinafter “BRB”) that says, “I’m voting for Republicans but I’m not really voting Republican, mostly because I have no clue what you guys are going to do if you get elected and, frankly, I don’t have much faith you’ll do anything I approve of.” I’m still voting Republican, though, because to me what’s important is getting the party in power out of power tomorrow - and doing it again in two years if the Republicans don’t get the message. If there are a lot of people who’d like that same BRB and think the way I do then maybe the huge Republican wave is even bigger than anticipated.
Or maybe a lot of BRB people decide what’s important is not getting rid of the party in power but getting rid of the people in power and so vote against incumbents regardless of their party. That would still mean a Republican gain but not such a big one.
On the other hand, maybe there are people who want that same BRB, hear about the huge Republican wave, and decide to stay home or vote for a third party candidate or even vote Democratic so the Republicans don’t get the idea we actually want them in office. We just want the other guys out. So maybe some of the BRB people decide to make the Republican wave smaller lest the Republicans get delusions of grandeur - or even grudging acceptance.
The sentiment underlying the desire for a BRB was expressed quite forcefully in the comments to a post at the Confluence. Blue Lyon reproduced it on her site and I reproduce it here:
Whatever anyone says about “concern” that the public is merely “lashing out” and “aren’t thinking this through” is just so much noise. The public is indeed thinking. They are thinking that we can’t even DISCUSS policy direction until we yank our politicians up by the shorthairs enough that they get it through their thick entitled heads that it isn’t about them, or about parties, or which one gets the next turn to grab the keys and go joyriding with their lobbyist buddies. It’s about US.
It’s a very simple message, actually. The message is “We can yank those keys out of your damn hand anytime we please. We can give them to a hairdresser, or a certified loon, or Sam the not-so-bright yard guy. And we will if you keep this shit up. So both parties need to STOP FUCKING WITH US.”
In my conversations with people all across the political spectrum, once you cut through the static, most are viewing this election as a “Who’s in charge here – you or us?” to both parties. The various issues, whether left or right, do need to be discussed and debated. The differences are real. But it seems that the people want to have both sides of that debate come from US, not be shaped and molded and controlled by THEM.
I can argue my liberal point of view with my conservative or moderate neighbor, as they can with me. There’s no arguing with a machine, whether it has a D or an R stamped on it. Yes, there are scary ideologues involved this year. But I think they are misjudging as much as the sell-out Dems are. This is in large part rage against the machine, and it ain’t over in 2010.
Vote tomorrow. And in the absence of a Big Red Button, don’t forget your monkey wrench.