Election Day Has Come and Gone, and What a Difference a Day Makes!
Well, Election Day has come and gone. In the local and state-wide races, the Republicans have prevailed. Neither "Grandma" Strayhorn nor "Kinky" Freidman succeeded in their bids to unseat Governor Rick Perry. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson was re-elected to the US Senate. Most of the House of Representative seats in Texas delegation also went to the Republicans. Of the thirty-two seats, only eleven were won by Democrats - a significant increase for the Democrats.
The big change was in the national races. The Republican party has definitely lost control of the House of Representatives and may have lost control of the US Senate. I think the GOP lost, not that the Democrats won. I believe the Republicans could have held control if they had handled a few things better:
- The situation in Iraq: While I agree that Saddam Hussein had to go, it seems as if our intelligence regarding the political structure, the tribal structure, the religious structure, the worker educational and skill sets and the physical infrastructure were grossly inadequate. This either led to, or was compounded by, very poor planning for the rebuilding of Iraq after Saddam Hussein was toppled. As we all know: "Failure to plan equals planning to fail"
- Corruption in Congress and perceived corruption in the Administration: From Gingrich to Abramahof to Delay to Foley, the Congressional leadership, which just happens to be Republican, has failed to provide actual leadership. The lack of true leadership has also shown itself in the granting of sole-source contracts to fight the war against terrorism and to rebuild Iraq. While sole-source contracts allow the work to get started sooner, the public at large perceives them as a form of corruption whereby the favored few companies and individuals get the contracts with an extremely high profit potential paid with tax dollars at the expense of other equally qualified companies.
- The economy: The globalization of our economy has had the effect of diminishing the middle class because of stagnant salaries, rising health care costs and layoffs. The layoffs, especially, are hitting the older middle class workers hardest. This is because after many years with the same company or in the same industry, it is extremely difficult to find a new job with a salary which even approximates the salary from the previous position.
- The baby-boomers: This issue overlaps the previous because many of the older middle class workers are baby boomers. As a group, the baby boomers feel that the promise of Social Security is an empty one. They are approaching retirement, many without enough money saved and now facing pension changes which have reduced the pension benefits they will receive, especially in regard to health care. The wave of corporate bankruptcies of the past few years have eliminated the pension plans of many employees. The Pension Guarantee Board is considered an ineffective joke which, at best, will provide pennies on the dollar of the benefits the employers promised.
- The evangelical Christians: This is a large part of the Republican political base. Their agenda has been largely ignored by Congress and the President. This year, they are taking their revenge and voting against the Republicans. This act may not help their agenda move forward, but it will put the Republican party, and in fact, all politicians, on notice that the next time they control Congress, they had better deliver on their promises.
The next two years will be interesting. Since President Bush is in his second term, he is a "lame duck." Congress has little incentive to work with him: they know that in two years, he will be gone. He will need to become much more conciliatory toward the Democrats in order to accomplish anything.
What will two years from now bring? I do not really know. However, I will prognosticate that the campaign for the Presidency will pit Senator Hillary Clinton for the Democrats against Dr. Condoleeza Rice for the Republicans. May the best man - er, woman - win!