North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

US mid term election termed a "shellacking" by President Obama

A subdued President Obama walks to address a press conference one day after the mid-term elections.

With US Presidential elections held every 4 years, "mid term" elections take place 2 years in, with all 435 House of Representatives up for grab, an approximate third of 100 US Senators (serving 6 year terms), as well as a steady round of state governorships.

Following what was considered an historic Democratic sweep two years ago, with President Obama elected as well as super majorities of Democrats in the House and Senate, many political observers were openly speaking of an entrenched powerbase that could last for over a decade. However, in just twenty four months, the verdict of American voters was in fact, "a shellacking" of his party said the President, with the BBC coverage terming the outcome as "disastrous" for the Democrats.

65 House seats changed hands from Democrats to Republican, as did 6 Senate seats out of the 36 in play, along with 10 state governors. The House of Representatives is now controlled by Republicans, 30 states out of 50 have Republican leadership, and it appears that the frustration and anger have not dissipated.

Because voting is a rather blunt instrument, the motives of the voters can be (and are) debated, dissected, and interpreted ad nauseum. The Democratic party and sympathetic media say that they did not do well in communicating their accomplishments to the voters, and that in truth, the economy was not producing jobs fast enough. Moreover, historically, the party in power loses some seats in these mid term elections, and finally, that there was an unprecedented amount of money spent on behalf of Republican candidates.

The Republicans, on the other hand, pointed to polls showing that independents had switched en mass towards their party and away from the President and his Party's agenda. They countered that the American public understood all too well the accomplishments of the Democrats in power, and were firmly rejecting the results.

The new health care and its messy process of horsetrading and parliamentary maneuverings, the stimulus bill of early 2009 that borrowed nearly a trillion dollars, and a very large annual budget in 2009 were the issues bringing about the ire of the average American, said Party spokespersons, as well as the vocal contempt poured out by Democrats on the Tea party movement, characterized as "far right," "dangerous" and "ignorant."

What is called the Tea Party movement roughed up conventional thought both in the Democratic and Republican camps

Around the world, various media viewed the powerful return of more conservative elected officials with viewpoints generally ranging from wariness to gloom, yet most commentaries also focused on what possible policy changes might lie ahead towards their own nations and interests.

From two voices most familiar with the US electoral process, it was the UK's Guardian newspaper who noted the stark facts first "Barack Obama woke up yesterday to a changed political landscape. The electoral map was rolled back six years, as Democrats were driven from rural districts and suburbs alike, and almost the entire south. They lost women's votes in droves. A whole generation of grandees was unseated, and one remarkable politician in Nancy Pelosi lost her job as speaker of the house of Representatives." After reciting all the faults and pitfalls of the Republicans, The Guardian concluded, "The fact, however, remains that this was as personal a message as a president in his midterm is likely to get. The audacity of hope had become, for too many Americans, the hubris of overambition."

Nancy Pelosi,Speaker of the House and third in line of the Presidential succession, lost her national post and attendant perks, though retained her elected seat.

Canada's National Post posed the question, "Did Tuesday’s elections redraw the U.S. political map? And answered it, "Partly, Democrats have been driven from office in rural areas, the suburbs and every one of the 11 states of the old Confederacy. They lost an overwhelming number of gubernatorial and Senate races in the South, the Midwest and interior West. Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia, states Barack Obama won in 2008, returned to the Republican fold, while battleground states, like Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania that went Democratic two years ago, elected Republican governors and senators and swept out some House Democrats. Democrats also suffered extensive losses in suburbs clustered around cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, Orlando, Fla., Cincinnati, Columbus, Ohio, Las Vegas and Phoenix.

Democrats lost a generation of powerful centrist leaders,... The party’s youngest leaders, first- and second-term House Democrats elected in 2006 and 2008, also took a drubbing in swing states, as did “Blue Dog” Democrats who represented conservative, Republican-leaning districts, generally in the South. As a result, the new Democratic caucus is likely to be more liberal than before. The Republicans’ success generates a similar problem. They now have to grapple with the Tea Party movement, whose members don’t fit the traditional GOP mould. Tea Party activists shun compromise and are bent on shaking up Washington. They will probably introduce a new element of ideological rigidity to the operation of Congress and that could create divisions within the party."

Washington State's Senator Patty Murray retained her seat after a close race - reinforcing the broad concentrations of political leanings, with the Northeast, West Coast, and urban centers as Democratic strongholds.

The Canadian Post continued, "The vote may be more a protest against how Washington functions than a clear declaration of a mandate for a new course of action. The Tea Party, with its calls to cut the size of government, still has to convince people of just where those cuts should take place. While the GOP now has the power to initiate action, it might try to halt the White House agenda. But Obama still has a veto and can scrap any Republican legislation."

The red color depicting Republican majorities and blue for Democrats in 2010 is eerily similar to this 2004 electoral map. What has changed? The move towards a more liberal and smaller Democratic party, and a larger, more conservative Republican Party.

That's the big picture, it now remains to be seen whether the President, the Senate and the House can address the lack of jobs, rising debt, and more open decision making that was absent in the health care legislation, which many believe was the focus of the voting patterns.


pearl said...

well well, i can imagine that MRS. TeaTree had QUITE a lot of feelings to express after the elections..... i'm sorry to have missed th

Sarah said...

I'm sure that many elections sentiments will be shared in the weeks to come. Pearl, you may not miss out on all of Mrs. TeaTree's thoughts on the outcome!

Teatree said...

Oh yes, there are many powerful Mrs Teatree inputs ...