I’m still recovering from the shock of this week’s midterm election in the States. Well, “shock” isn’t exactly the right word, I suppose, since anyone who had been exposed to more than five minutes of political commentary leading up to the election would have already known that the Republicans were taking back the House. No contest.
Still, there was always hope that the margin of the takeover wouldn’t be as great as expected -- that is, until the exit polls actually started coming in. Being at least seven time zones removed from the action, I had to crawl out of bed in the middle of the night just to see for myself how bad it was going to be and subject myself to the pain of watching it all unfold in real-time.
I tiptoed downstairs at two in the morning, and for the next three hours kept one eye on CNN and one on my laptop, where I channel-surfed between Twitter, The Daily Beast, Fox News (mainly for its excellent interactive map), Politico, you name it, bombarding myself with every fresh scrap of news I could find. And there were scraps galore. The Twitter feed alone was especially busy. If I toggled away from Twitter for just a couple of minutes, when I toggled back I would find dozens of new tweets from the various journalist I follow. It was a multimedia soaking of mostly discouraging news.
Before finally going back to bed, I was able to hang on long enough to be reassured that Nevada was not sending Sharron Angle to the Senate. That bit of sanity -- and the fact that the Senate didn’t change hands -- was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal spectacle of defeat.
And now the aftermath. The passive-aggressive in me wants to say to the Republicans “Fine, I don’t care. Let’s see you fix this mess.” The outpouring of anger and frustration that the electorate vented on Tuesday was fueled, in large part, by the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression and by the fact that Obama and the Democrats somehow haven’t been able to turn this runaway disaster around on a dime.
I think it’s unfair and unrealistic. Given the magnitude of the mess, it’s hard to imagine anyone could have done a notably better job, least of all John McCain. (We’ll never know for sure, will we?) That is not to say that things are great. The recovery is far too slow and unemployment is too high (though a better-than-expected 151,000 jobs were added in October). The country is still hurting. But I honestly believe the Democrats are working to make things better and are the right track.
The majority of Americans (or of the 40% or so that bothered to vote) don’t agree, and aren’t patient enough to wait and see if the current measures will work. Maybe this isn’t surprising given the all-too-typical desire for instant greatification and painless, easy answers. Will they be as unforgiving of John Boehner and the Republican if the GOP is, in fact, not able to perform miracles and orchestrate a recovery faster?
David Corn, the liberal journalist and prolific Twitterer, posted an ironic tweet the day after the election that said it best: “Okay, it's been almost 12 hours, Speaker-to-be Boehner, where are the jobs?”