Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Election Equation: The 2006 Congressional election was a repudiation of the policies and actions of George W. Bush and the policies and actions of a rubber stamp Republican-controlled Congress. It happened, as I see it, for some principal reasons. They are:

First, the war in Iraq: The public saw the mismanagement, lies, and deceit which took this country to war and which have been responsible for nearly 3000 American deaths, countless Iraqi deaths and has cost, so far, nearly one half trillion dollars inflating the deficit to new Olympian heights. It battered a country and a people who did nothing to us and exacerbated not limited the terrorist threat. The strategy, if one can call it that, was not working. The war from the beginning was mishandled. There was no oversight and there is no END in sight.

Second, the Katrina debacle: It was clear that again, lies, deceit and gross incompetence were responsible for the deaths of thousands in one of the most catastrophic disasters to hit this country in its history. Katrina uncovered the wizard behind the curtain and showed the emperor was not wearing any clothes. One could not hide the complete ineffectiveness and the incompetence of this government’s response to save its own people from the ravages of a storm.

Third, Corruption: The corruption of this Republican Congress and its utter disregard for ethics was another part of the election equation. The so-called party of ethics had none. Indictments on corruption charges were legion. This Congress had no oversight and, indeed, was power run amok. Leaders of Congress have been cast under a veil of suspicion that stretches far and wide including the huge Abramoff K Street lobbying scandal which swept so many Republicans into its black hole, has meant resignations of the Republican’s highest leadership and will include and has included jail time for many.

Fourth the Foley scandal: The extraordinarily anti-homosexual party, dependent on Evangelicals for their power, covered up a smarmy homosexual scandal of Internet sex with underage pages. Those pages, compounding Foley’s egregious behavior, were employees of the federal government. The Republican party leadership did nothing. The hypocrisy of that was overwhelming. Mixed into this brew was the behavior of Reverend Haggard, the head of the Evangelical Association, a 40,000 member ultra-religious organization. Haggard just happened to get his kicks from drugs and a male prostitute. Even though he was not a congressman, his denials rang hollow and his lies were obvious. Haggard got swept into the muck.

Balance of Power: Republicans and Democrats may differ on policy but most agree with the basics of what our Founding Fathers meant to do when they formulated this government in the 18th century. They wanted, in pertinent part, a check on power because they saw the potential corruption of it. This Congressional legislative branch (the first branch mentioned in the Constitution) did not provide that and became a rubber stamp for whatever policy the executive branch wanted, including torture, wiretapping, secret prisons and perhaps most importantly, the suspension of habeus corpus. I think many conservatives saw this as a blatant and radical departure from our country’s most valued principles. In addition, importantly, I think this election was a repudiation of the extremes of both parties. Eleanor Clift, Newsweek columnist and panelist on the McLaughlin Group, today has said politics is about listening to a variety of people with different political opinions and build a consensus. The Republicans have built in the past two decades, almost exclusively, a party of right wing extremists. Democrats tried this time to cross the divide.

Now both NBC and the AP are declaring Webb to be the winner in Virginia giving the Democrats control of both the House and the Senate. Hopefully some light is shining though. I again can love my country now that the fresh air seems to be blowing the wind in a new direction. I see endless possibilities beyond the horizon and perhaps, a new equation will prevail.