In the wake of Tuesday’s overwhelming Republican triumph in the midterm elections, many pundits are remarking how odd it is that it was just two years ago that Obama was on the positive side of such a tsunami. Actually, when viewed in historical terms, the outcome was entirely predictable, in that Americans tend to vote against candidates, not for them.
In 2008, the anti-Bush/Republican sentiment was so overwhelming, the Democrats could have run the stiff from Weekend At Bernie’s and he would likely have beaten McCain. Young voters turned out in droves in 2008, while right-leaning old folks stayed at home, more or less resigned to defeat.
The opposite was true in 2010, with 25% of voters belonging to the 65+ bracket (most of them white males), a big bump over the 19% share they represented in 2008. A Nov. 2nd Gallup poll revealed that 63% of Republicans reported being more enthusiastic than normal over voting – an all-time high. As John Lydon sagely observed, anger is an energy.
Contrast the old white folks shuffling to the polls in 2010 with the 9% of participating voters aged 18-29 who turned out, just half the figure that showed up in 2008. This may have something to do with the political naiveté of younger voters, who may not fully understand the significance of non-presidential elections.
Regardless, it has been somewhat amusing to see a few sites proclaiming the re-election of Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Harry Reid as a ‘victory’ for online gambling. Pardon our mirth, but this is the kind of blinkered denial displayed by the Black Knight in Monty Python & The Holy Grail, who was left limbless and bleeding as King Arthur rode off to continue his quest. With Barney Frank set to cede his chairmanship of the powerful Financial Services Committee to vehemently anti-gambling Republican Spencer Bachus, each new copy of Frank’s HR2267 online poker legislation should come with a giant fork stuck in it, cuz it’s done.
Anyone expecting compromise on behalf of the Republicans should heed the words of Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, who stated in no uncertain terms that “the mandate for change is directed at the other guys. We are right where we have been.” In case you needed reminding just where the Republicans were/are, the House vote on HR2267 was 34-4 in favor (Democrat) and 7-18 (Republican).
In the short term, on issues great and small, what we can expect from US politics is gridlock. In the long term, we have a hard time envisioning a scenario in which anyone reading this will see legal online gambling in America during their lifetime. Or, at the very least, not until a whole bunch of American senior citizens start biting the dust.