The National Catholic Review

It is 7 a.m. British time and the results of yesterday’s U.S. election have reached London. There were few surprises, one of those rare moments in recent American politics when the polls and pundits got it right. The question on everybody's mind, of course, is what the results mean. When folks here ask me, I usually say: "The results mean whatever you want them to mean." Accordingly, the politicians, activists and water cooler pundits now begin at least 72 hours of frenzied speculation about just what the American people "were saying" yesterday. Every one of them will have a different narrative. It's like a crowd at a traffic accident: interview each participant individually and they will paint a different picture of what they saw from the place where they were standing. Sometimes the most you can say with any confidence is “well, there was an accident.” So what is the absolute minimum we can say about yesterday’s results? Two things seem clear: 1) The American people are mad as hell, yet who they are mad at is a matter of dispute. Is it Obama, Congress, the economy, themselves, all of the above? 2) The victors will almost certainly mistake the mood of the American people for a mandate. Accordingly, they will craft a maximalist narrative of yesterday's events. Clinton did it in '92, Gingrich in '94 and Obama in '08. The result is always the same: the victors over-reach and the voters drag them kicking back to the centre a year or two later. We also know that lots of people will say that “this time is different.” We’ll see. The more things change....

Comments

Anonymous | 11/4/2010 - 4:26am
As for prop 19, it was defeated, and pProp 23, which would have allowed out of state oil companies to turn back the environmental clock was also defeated.  Brown, who was once gov and also attorney general, has much more experience than an eBay CEO.  What's crazy is to punish the whole country by embracing republican politics because people are dissappointed in Obama.
Benjamin Alexander | 11/3/2010 - 10:38pm
Yeah Crystal...what was so sane about what happened in Cali? Keeping inane drug laws that do more harm than good, re-electing a former governor whose track record isn't that impressive, or keeping Barbara "a baby is not a person until it's home from the hospital" Boxer as your senator?

I realize your state had some bad options, but would you call any of it sanity? 
JOSEPH CLEARY II | 11/3/2010 - 10:31pm
Crystal- I will allow that we could define sanity as you and your voting brethren keeping head shops out of the local WalGreens and RiteAid

As for hoping that Mr. Brown (and his friends) will somehow turn the state in a different direction then how he led it the first time around- well thats doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome- the definition of INsanity!

:)
 
Anonymous | 11/3/2010 - 4:05pm
My state, California, was one of the few that kept its sanity  :)
Stanley Kopacz | 11/3/2010 - 1:05pm
THe main "idea" bandied about in this election was "my worthy opponent is the spawn of Satan".  ANd how does two years of any economic policy prove anything.  Not that there were any big changes made by Obama.  It's mostly Republican drama queen stuff.  A lot of people didn't vote because they think it doesn't really make a difference, and maybe they're right, though wrong not to vote.
Anonymous | 11/3/2010 - 12:46pm
I was looking for the results by congressional district and found an extremely helpful map on the NY Times website.  It is
http://elections.nytimes.com/2010/results/house.

It has the results by each district but you have to click the map to get the actual district and results.  The most interesting thing is it shows you how the districts are constructed.  Click on an area and then zoom in using the magnifier and one can see the crazy way some districts are constructed.  I was looking at some of the districts in Pennsylvania especially around Philadelphia and was amazed at how the districts are laid out.

Now our state governments will gerrymander more than a few for the next elections.
Marie Rehbein | 11/3/2010 - 12:30pm
Democrats lost the youth vote.  Young voters were mostly indifferent this time around.  It may have been because we are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Wouldn't it be funny if in the months to come Republicans determined that single-payer health coverage is the way to go?  Remember Food Stamps was a Republican invention.  Slavery was made illegal under Republicans.  Republicans do not always protect the status quo or go the small government route.

At least now, Republicans have nothing to gain from filibustering everything that comes along.
Anonymous | 11/3/2010 - 12:13pm
I am for doubling down on ''Jeff Landry's.''  Let's see if we can the other Jeff to comment here along with our own Jeff.  We have all these Catholics involved in the new House of Representatives.  

It would be a coup for the editors here to get them to occasionally comment on America positions since America represent the largest Catholic educational organization in the country.  That is what education is about, exposing students to several different points of view.
Anonymous | 11/3/2010 - 11:53am
Sorry, I was discussing my committee appointments with Speaker-elect Boehner.

Assumption correct.

And George Will has a great response to this sort of rationalization this morning in the Post.  It begins:


"Unwilling to delay until tomorrow mistakes that could be made immediately, Democrats used 2010 to begin losing 2012. Trying to preemptively drain the election of its dangerous (to Democrats) meaning, all autumn Democrats described the electorate as suffering a brain cramp, an apoplexy of fear, rage, paranoia, cupidity - something. Any explanation would suffice as long as it cast what voters were about to say as perhaps contemptible and certainly too trivial to be taken seriously by the serious.
It is amazing the ingenuity Democrats invest in concocting explanations of voter behavior that erase what voters always care about, and this year more than ever - ideas. This election was a nationwide recoil against Barack Obama's idea of unlimited government."
Gabriel McAuliffe | 11/3/2010 - 10:15am
Or John Boehner?
Anonymous | 11/3/2010 - 9:52am
So let me get this straight:

In 2006, Democrats regain control of both chambers of Congress, & the ''consensus'' is that it is a clear repudiation of Bush and the GOP policies, primarily Iraq.

In 2008, Obama wins the Presidency, and the ''consensus'' is that it is a clear repudiation of Reaganism, small government conservatism; books & articles appear trumpeting the death of conservatism.  The GOP is predicted to remain a minority party for the long term.  ''Hope'' and ''change'' are on the way & a bright new day dawns.

In 2010, (a mere 2 years after Obama ''shifted'' the ground) Independents, especially in traditionally Democratic states in the Midwest, go for the GOP by at least 20 points, and hand the GOP the largest majority in the House since 1938 (larger than the 1994 Revolution), and, while not taking control of the Senate, gain 7 seats by electing conservative candidates and forcing Manchin to run well to the right, and the consensus is: we don't know what it means, it's not a vote for conservatism, the electorate is just ''angry'' and ''confused'', and the GOP will probably (hopefully) screw it all up.

I mean come on: just man up and admit you lost the argument.  The voters chose: they chose smaller government, less regulation, and more emphasis of pro-growth policies.  They weren't ''tricked'' into voting for some other alternative, and the money spent doesn't answer the question either (see Whitman/Brown, Blumenthal/McMahon).  You got schillacked.  And you got schillacked because the country rejected your policies.  It doesn't mean conservatism will rule for generations, but it means conservatism is back for now. And with people like Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, & Kevin McCarthy making the case, I'd say that's a good thing!  Can we focus on the arguments now?  Will America bother interviewing Catholic conservatives like Paul Ryan & Marco Rubio?
Anonymous | 11/3/2010 - 9:25am
I didn't see anyone say that this is a permanent change to the Republicans.  They will be heavily scrutinized.   Everyone was sort of interested in what they will do in the House.  Repeal/rewrite the health care bill but that might not get through the senate and will certainly be vetoed by the president.


It certainly was a repudiation of Obama, The Democratic congress and many of the policies/legislation passed in the last two years.  If their efforts had helped the economy there wouldn't have been this mood but nothing passed seemed to help and looked like it actually hurt the economy.  


The Republicans only control one third of the process and to correct what is wrong with our financial world, it will take a lot of will power and I do not think the American people have the guts to do what is necessary.  Everybody wants their piece of the pie.  The coming economic train wreck might be slowed a little but it is still heading towards the washed out bridge.
Stanley Kopacz | 11/3/2010 - 7:55am
The Democratic Party is to the left of the Republican Party which is like being to the left of Attila.  THe best would be for the Republican Party to disappear and a progressive party appear to  challenge the Democrats.  But perhaps the riskier route must be taken.  Remove the Democratic Party, allow the naked agenda of the Republicans to run rampant for all to see (like it hasn't done that before) and then let a true party for the people rise to challenge them.

I sometimes wonder why corporations donate to the Democratic Party.  The Republican Party is obviously their best choice.  I think now it's just to maintain the sockpuppet show while the power stays in the "proper" hands of the puppeteers.  Spitting out the lukewarm is starting to sound applicable.

I may start voting Republican myself.  Third party would be preferable, Green or Libertarian.  Perhaps things have to bottom out or burn out before they get better.  Let the Democratic Party go extinct and hope things reverse before the Republicans turn us irreversibly into a Feudal State.
Joan Brausch | 11/4/2010 - 8:24pm
I would like to take exception to something Matt said in his podcast.  He mentioned that the progressives and/or Democrats poo-poohed the Tea Partiers and called them the "crazies".  Some may have done that, that is true.  But many saw the Tea Partiers as a force within (or without) the Republican Party that needed to be reckoned with.  I, for one, found many of these folks to be downright scary with some of the remarks made on the various campaign trails.  But I never, ever thought they could be ignored.  The other thing that I feel needed to be said is that the "Citizens United" decision by the Supreme Court had hand in this election - we aren't sure yet just what the fallout is of that influence, but there was so damn much money thrown into so many races, so much of that money UNTRACEABLE to the donators, that we need to seriously look at the effects of that on the 2010 election cycle.  Almost $200 million dollars was spent by these groups!  That's insane - and we don't know who gave the money to the groups, nor, in many cases, do we even know who makes up the membership or governing boards of these groups.  We've got to stop allowing people to buy elections.
Anonymous | 11/4/2010 - 2:52pm
Has anyone heard about the 150,000 ballots that showed up in warehouses in Kern and Fresno counties mysteriously yesterday?  I was listening to some Californians discuss this and no one knew the origin of the ballots and nothing like this has ever happened before.