Remarkably little changed Tuesday.
Despite the expenditure of $6.7 billion on national political races, and tens of millions more on state and local campaigns, the vilification of every would-be officeholder and their dog and the intercession of a demon climate (if you are a Republican), the United States ended up with the same president, a Democratic Senate and a Republican House of Representatives.
The balance of power was unchanged in Olympia, Boise or the Spokane County Courthouse.
Only the initiatives were transformational. Washington residents have seemingly (stay tuned for final results) endorsed same-sex marriage, the legalization of marijuana for adults and the formation of charter schools for their children.
In Idaho, parents rejected the so-called Luna Laws; overwhelmingly siding with teachers against the heavy hands of obtuse lawmakers and administrators in Boise.
We will find out soon whether any lessons were learned.
Without swift action in Washington, D.C., a toxic cocktail of tax increases and spending cutbacks could reverse the real but fragile economic gains of the last three years. Traditionally, lame duck sessions of Congress have not been fruitful but, thanks to the power of incumbency, most of the same ducks will be back in January. They should have nothing better to do now than clock in for 40 hours a week like the rest of us. But the Capitol has become so convoluted a place one line of thought suggests lawmakers allow the Bush tax cuts to expire at year’s end so they can, perhaps, roll some back in 2013. That way our representatives are voting for tax cuts instead of tax increases, which would break their vows to the blessed Grover Norquist.
Wednesday, all we heard is compromised language about compromise. Cliff, here we come.
Also left undone is a farm bill trapped in the deep furrows between House and Senate versions, which split over the division of pain between farmers who will lose some traditional income supports, and food stamp recipients. It’s all very complicated, the better to befuddle the vast majority of nonproducers. Both new versions cut spending over the bill’s five-year life, but there’s plenty of fat yet to render.
Republicans should have learned beyond all doubt they have alienated Latino voters who were decisive in many races. Immigration reform should be a cause they embrace, or die as a viable party. Republican presidents going back at least as far as Gerald Ford supported liberalization. Now, the GOP is wandering in the desert.
Finally, fix the voting process in this country. Allow more people to vote early, or hand them a ballot and an envelope (some Floridians received ballots 12 pages long). Washington and Oregon have proved mail-in balloting works. Forcing hundreds to stand in line and sacrifice a half-day’s pay is nothing less than a poll tax. Put legislators at the end of the line and see how long change takes.
Another “most important election of our lifetimes” has passed. Cue 2016.