The results are in: More of the same

Two weeks ago, I wrote of being dispirited by the prospects of the upcoming election. I was sufficiently down that Bryan Caskey did a Ferris Bueller to my Cameron Frye and took me skeet-shooting, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

But now, the election results are in, and they did not disappoint. They contain nothing likely to instill enthusiasm.

The bottom line is, things will stay the same in South Carolina — and in the nation, too. Anyone who thinks it matters which party controls the Congress is seriously deluded. It’s the same bunch of people, playing the same game (the “Which Party is Up Today?” game) the same way. I see that Harry Reid is out of power, and I go, “Yay!” and I see Mitch McConnell rise to power and I go, “Oh, dang.”

The way I feel (and yes, I’m talking about feelings rather than thoughts, which shows I’m just not myself today), overall, about this election is captured well in this datum, which The Washington Post describes as “The single most depressing number in the national exit poll“:

One of the fundamental truisms of American life is this: Your kids will have a better life — more opportunities, more creature comforts, more whatever — than you did/do.  Except that people don’t believe that any more, according to preliminary exit polls.

Almost half of all Americans — 48 percent — said they expected life for “future generations” to be “worse than life today,” while 22 percent said it would be better. Another 27 percent said life would be about the same. Do the math and you see that more than twice as many people are pessimistic about the future that they will leave their kids as those who are optimistic.  (Not surprisingly, among the 48 percent who believe future generations will be worse off, two thirds of them voted for Republicans in today’s election.)

Those are stunning — and depressing — numbers. And they are far from the only evidence that the American Dream is, if not dead, certainly dying in the eyes of many Americans….

How do you like them apples? Well, I don’t either, but there it is. And I think it reflects the national mood, as expressed in this election. Americans are fed up with politics, and have lost faith in its transformative power. They’re unhappy about the way things are going, but they don’t see a way to make them go better. So they express their dissatisfaction in the standard way — they punish the president’s party in the “midterm” election. They don’t have high hopes for change or anything, but they’ve expressed their pique.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. Good things happened. I’m happy that Lindsey Graham won. I’m glad to have him as my senator, and I get tired of everybody ragging on him. I’m not disappointed, exactly, that Vincent Sheheen lost because I expected him to. We’d be a lot better off if he’d won, and I probably wouldn’t be such a Toby Zeigler today, but that was never in the cards.

And good for Alan Wilson and Beth Bernstein and a number of others. I’m glad the Lexington 2 bond referendum passed.

But unless you are one of the winning candidates, or related to one of the winning candidates, I doubt that you are elated by the mushy gray events of yesterday.

Yeah, I think it’s nice that a black man was elected to the U.S. Senate, and a black Republican at that — anything that bumps us out of the usual ruts of partisan voting patterns is good. But I’d feel better if I thought he had inspired people somehow with ideas for how to better our nation. I can’t really put my finger on anything that I know he wants to do in office. We just, as a state, found him unobjectionable. He had the office, and we saw no reason to remove him from it. Tim Scott’s election is something that will look more exciting in the footnotes of history than it actually was.

OK, one other good thing happened that represents progress for South Carolina. I’ll write about it in a separate post. Don’t get your hopes up. It’s not exciting…

10 thoughts on “The results are in: More of the same

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      No, he won’t “fix everything.” Neither he, nor anyone else in his position, can.

      Nor did anything I write suggest that he would. In fact, everything I wrote suggested the opposite. I simply clung to his election as one small bright bit of floating debris on a heaving sea of gray despond.

      But you don’t even want to allow me that, do you?

      1. Doug Ross

        I am not in a position to allow or disallow anything. I just find the idea that a politician of Lindsey Graham’s ilk would somehow fit into an objective of changing the political landscape for America. He’s as much a part of the problem as anyone in Washington today.

    2. Juan Caruso

      Certainly every voter who voted for Ravenel thinks Graham is a problem, Doug.

      They prevented incumbent RINO Graham from receiving as many votes as his appointed colleague, Senator Tim Scott.

      More good news, Brad failed to acknowledge: Sen. Scott picked up nearly 25% of the black vote, as well.

      A Dishonest Judge (T’m a Republican) did not help Sheheen very much by throwing support to him in the final hours, either. Sheheen’s concession suggested (as I had predicted) he will not run again, satying during his concession, “I have carried the torch of change for a while now. And I am proud to hand it off.” (All of this time Sheheen’s supporters have suggested Haley would be headed to Washington. Interestingly, watch how Sheheen is offered D.C. patronage for bearing his dim torch.)

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      But you see, that doesn’t matter to me. When you feel like the overall direction of things is bad, and likely to continue that way, the fact that a bunch of people I voted for (7 out of 11) were elected isn’t much compensation. I’m a big-picture guy…

      And of course, I don’t give a tinker’s dam which party prevails.

      Also, you have to understand that I believe that having a good, empowered, smart governor who understands how things work and what needs to be done to make things better is a BIG deal to me. I’ve spent a lot of my career trying to empower the office so that when we get a good governor he or she can make a difference, and pushing for good people to run for governor and win.

      And the results of the last six gubernatorial elections have been pretty disappointing.

      Oh, I was briefly pleased that Sanford won in 2002, but that didn’t last, once I got to know him better…

  1. Bryan Caskey

    I’m cautiously hopeful that some of the old logjam breaks up. Lots of older, veteran politicians lost last night. There’s a fair amount of new blood (and some young blood, at that) in the US Senate. Specifically:

    Tom Cotton: Cotton is 37 years old. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 2002, he joined the Army, attaining the rank of O-3 (Captain) and served in Iraq/Afghanistan. He defeated Mark Pryor, who has been in the US Senate since 2003 and is 51.

    Joni Ernst: She’s 44 years old and is an O-5 in the Iowa National Guard. This is the seat that Tom Harkin vacated, who was 74 and had been there since 1985.

    Cory Gardner: He’s 40 years old, and defeated Mark Udall who’s 64.

    Mary Landrieu is 58 and has been in the Senate since 1997. She’s probably going to lose to Cassidy in the runoff. He’s 57, (so same age) but he hasn’t been in the Senate for the entirety of my adult life, so that’s new blood at least.

    There are a fair amount of Democrats left in the Senate who have never been in the minority, and there are a fair amount of Republicans who have never been in the majority. I’m hopeful that time in the minority has taught Republicans some lessons about how to act when in charge. This is dovetailing into my own blog post today, but no majority is ever permanent.

    The country has spoken that the status quo was not acceptable. You had a President and a GOP that weren’t interested in compromise. It was a bitter dynamic, and both sides of the dispute share that blame. It’s up to the Republicans and President Obama to figure out if they can come up with a new dynamic.

    “With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds.”

    -Stuff Abraham Lincoln Said, Vol. IX

  2. Michael Prince

    You: ” I think it’s nice that a black man was elected to the U.S. Senate, and a black Republican at that — anything that bumps us out of the usual ruts of partisan voting patterns is good.”

    Me: Huhn? Electing another Republican in South Carolina constitutes bumping us out of the rut? Seems to me the rut only gets dug ever deeper with each election. And that includes the South more broadly, where, as I understand, the last white Democrat representing a Deep South congressional district went down to defeat on Tuesday. Sigh. It’s taken the region just 30-some years to shift from the rut of Democratic control to the rut of Republican control. The Solid South has risen again!

    1. Silence

      Well, people’s votes do tend to align with their self interest, so I can see why white democrats are an endangered species in the south.


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