The 2010 mid-term elections will be looked back upon as a wasted opportunity for the country. If you look past the partisan windbaggery and mindless demonization of the opposition, the country is mired in a bad recession. Worse, it's clear that fraud and corruption played a major role in the implosion of the economy and the resultant unemployment, foreclosures, and general misery.
Few politicians, if any, are talking about the economy and corruption in any serious way. Instead, we get the usual tired "cut taxes to create jobs" yowling from the right vs. "increase spending to create jobs" gibbering on the left, as if this is an answer. Pardon my cynicism, but I'm guessing that most politicians, living as they do in their little bubbles, don't much care about the unemployed, especially since the jobless aren't exactly known to be big donors to campaigns. The Jerry Brown / Meg Whitman campaigns are a case in point. Neither has presented any concrete plans to balance the budget or increase employment. Rather, California voters have been treated to both of them claiming the other is a Bad Person. Like that will solve anything?
So, instead of having serious debate about the economy and the frauds, we've been subjected to yet another silly campaign season where little of substance is discussed. That's what I mean by a blown opportunity. There are real problems in the country now, and politicians seem oblivious to them except for how they can be exploited. But, the anger and discontent are rising, and on both sides too.
Here are two examples. Left wing journalist Marc Cooper said on Friday, just before the Restore Sanity / Fear rallies:
"This is not a light-hearted moment. This is a not a moment that allows smug moral superiority about being 'sane' in a chaotic era of political craziness. This is a time of national emergency."
On the right, Tea Party co-founder Karl Denninger blasted the current Tea Party saying it was about:
"the usual pablum. Guns, gays, God" and not about what it was originally, which was opposing "rampant theft of over taxpayer money propping up FAILED private businesses."
Thus, I think the mid-terms are much ado about nothing because regardless of the outcome, not much will change, at least not in the short-term. The Democrats will probably lose the House. But for all practical purposes, we already have a Congressional train wreck. Obama and the Democrats have a clear majority in both houses and didn't accomplish much. So how will a split Congress make it worse? What I'm saying does run directly contrary to the accepted wisdom that "You must vote for me because the other guy is spawn of Satan" and is (choose one) either a racist, knuckle-dragging fascist or a terrorist-loving, tax-me-to-death socialist. The mid-terms are like watching an artfully staged Kabuki theatre with the actors carefully playing their traditional roles. They haven't yet realized the back of the theatre is on fire.
The Karl Denninger version of the Tea Party is, I think, not so much right-wing as it is populist. The Populist Party of the 1890's at their peak controlled state legislatures, had several governors, and was a major force. It was started by Midwest farmers who were losing their farms to predatory banks and exploitative crop speculators. They started co-ops to buy their goods at a fair price then organized politically. Populism is as American as the Fourth of July and we could well be on the cusp of a major populist upsurge now.
If the economy doesn't improve, the increasingly hapless Obama will probably be a one-term President. There could easily be multiple third party and Independent challenges in 2012, at all levels and across the political spectrum. Progressives on the left and the Tea Party on the right are not happy with the calcification and corruption in their respective parties. Change is almost certainly coming, and it will probably be jarring.
Dunno about you, but I've never seen an election season as loony (or as oblivious to the issues) as this one. And this could just be a warm-up for 2012. But by then, the issues may well take center stage. Let's hope so.