Tuesday, November 06, 2012

All over but the crying

So, the presidential election is over for another four years, with house, senate and gubernatorial races on hold for another two. With President Obama winning a second term and quite a few high-profile, radical tea party types losing, I believe the country is in marginally better shape than it was before this night began. I pray that the grown-ups step in an re-take control of the Republican party, and set the goal of running the country as their number one priority rather than orchestrating a policy of obstruction with the goal of limiting Obama to a single term. That failed. Hopefully, the next four years will be different. There are enough Blue Dog Democrats in congress to find common ground on legislation, reasonable, balanced legislation that can pass in the Democrat-controlled senate.

Although I've voted for specific Republicans in the last few election cycles, I can't say I like the Republican party at all, not with it's rightward shift over the past decade. Not with its purges of moderate members and insistence on ideological purity. The moderate Mitt Romney who ran and lost in the primaries four years ago was a much stronger candidate than the arch-conservative Mitt Romney who won the nomination this time around. I'd make similar statements about John McCain prior. I fully expect the GOP to double-down on tacking right, however, and this saddens me. Government works best when both sides see the value of half a loaf, but that may be a quaint vestige of a bygone era.

What really saddens me is the $6 billion spent on this election cycle. That much money could fully cover the funding shortfall for Texas schools. It could cover some of the federal deficit. It could sponsor thousands of Pell Grants or kick start all sorts of advanced scientific research. Hell, that much money would pay for the lion's share of the long-since-cancelled Superconducting Supercollider. It is insane for that much money to be spent on political campaigns, the advertising equivalent of carpet bombing. Corporations, unions, billionaires and the like have no business inserting themselves into elections in this manner, and I sincerely hope that both parties in Washington realize the damage this volume of money is doing to the system now that the post-Watergate campaign finance reforms have been upended by the Supreme Court. I hope meaningful checks can be put on this money in a bipartisan manner, and elections return to becoming property of the people, rather than the domain of the well-heeled.

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