What to take?
Tomorrow, November 2nd, is Election Day in the US. It's the first midterm of Obama's administration, and like any exam, a good opportunity to see what one can take from the first two years.
The main thing is that obstruction can actually be a pretty effective strategy. The GOP, having seen it's ideas rejected in two straight elections, had to make a decision. They could try an abandon it's old notions of "outgroups" and imperial and pro-corporate policies and try and get in synch with a more diverse and urban America, or simply be a roadblock to the progress that America seemed to be in support of. The GOP, or perhaps its corporate handlers, chose to stonewall.
It seems to have worked. This managed to get the party's white, male, base activated, and convince those younger folks who become Obama's strongest supporters and most vigorous advocates to stay on the sidelines.
There's a lesson within this. Politics is not like the Olympics or World Cup, and every four year event. It's a day-in and day-out struggle. One major thing that the GOP's commitment to rescind and repeal, with little talk of what to replace with, may do is get the young people re-activated a bit.
The lack of specifics on the GOP side, brings up another lesson, ideas need to matter. The 'Tea Party' wing of the GOP emphasized people over policy. When the focus shifted to ideas, the Democrats seemed to make some gains. Showing the lack of ideas from the GOP could be a major tool in the next two years.
A final lesson is that media does matter. Folks like Beck and Limbaugh were able to use their radio programs and AM-Radio's cable news affiliate to keep the 'Tea Pot' boiling. While folks like Olberman and Maddow tried, there was a silence from even NPR on the extreme ideas that many of the GOP, especially the 'Tea Party' candidates espoused. A lot of this could have to do with what I call the FOX Effect, or have to do with the fact that many of these extremist candidates have the backing of advertisers. I think for progressives, 'micromedia' outlets like; Common Dreams, The Real News and Harrisburg's own RIck Smith will become even more useful and critical.
Were mistakes made by the Democrats, yes, but learning the correct things from those mistakes will go a long way in getting this Country back on the path to justice and equality that many gave their lives for.