As I write this, I'm watching the election results on TV and online. Now that I typically post my blog on late Tuesday evenings, I can analyze and comment on the vote as it happens, which I couldn't do in 2006 or 2008. In years past, I broke down what was at stake in each election and what issues mattered most to registered voters ahead of time. However, I've been rambling on and off about the midterms for months now, so what I could've said would've felt repetitive and redundant.
+ Let me start off by explaining my whereabouts this weekend. I obviously didn't have the air fare to fly to DC for the Rally to Restore Sanity, but I attend the Chicago satellite rally for about 90 minutes. About 1,200 people showed up, some wearing Halloween costumes, a handful wearing patriotic colors. The live coverage from Comedy Central appeared on a 6" by 8" screen, and most of the musical segments in DC were muted so that some local activists could speechify at the podium. They also had two folk singers onstage and some comedian that I'd never heard of, but I was paying more attention to the satellite feed.
+ I first tuned into the news coverage just as the Republicans' takeover of the house was confirmed. It wasn't too shocking; though U.S. Senate candidates like Rand Paul, Linda McMahon, and Christine O'Donnell grabbed national headlines, the vast majority of the Tea Party candidates were aiming for the lower chamber, stealthily drumming up support in mostly rural, economically downtrodden districts. Paul won his senate seat handily over Jack Conway --I was expecting a much closer race-- but the biggest surprise for me was the red state takeover in Wisconsin. Not only did teabagger Ron Johnson trump liberal stalwart Sen. Russ Feingold, but the GOP also took over the governor's mansion and five seats in the house (and counting).
+ As I post this, the Illinois races were too close to call. Incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn carried the densely populated Cook County in a landslide, but he's only won two other counties in the state so far. Republican challenger Bill Brady has carried 80 other counties, though half of them have been determined by less than 10%. In the U.S. Senate race, Alexi Giannoulias and Rep. Mark Kirk are going back and forth for the seat that Barack Obama vacated and Rod Blagojevich tried to sell. (I do not foresee any of the aforementioned candidates garnering 50% of the vote, though.) With all the Tea Party hoopla, it seems strange that the very state where Rick Santelli staged his rant 21 months ago has mostly shunned far-right candidates. Locally, my representative Judy Biggert won re-election for the umpteenth time, which goes to show you in a year of anti-incumbent fervor that in some pockets of the country, it's still business as usual.
+ The news coverage has been exactly what you'd expect. They're smirking on Fox News, the talking heads on MSNBC are despondent, and CNN is a dogpile of partisan bickering. All the local stations are darting between victory and concession speeches, an almost pointless task considering the high number of incumbents retaining their jobs in Illinois tonight (Debbie Halvorson notwithstanding). Politically polarized outlets like MSNBC and Fox News pretty much puppeteered the elections this year, lobbing volleyballs of heresy to encourage controversy and spiking campaigns to put more emphasis on attacking opponents than ever. If you wanted blood, you got it.
+ So what happens now? A Republican majority in the house and a narrow Democratic lead in the senate will only create more gridlock in the short-term. President Obama intends to focus on the national deficit in 2011, but what will get accomplished is highly debatable. In some ways, there's a parallel between this year's elections and the 1982 midterms. That particular vote was a response to President Reagan's unpopular supply-side economic agenda, resulting in some fresh Democratic faces in both houses. What is happening right now is the same, only different; President Obama's stimulus packages drew the Republicans' ire and they rode the anger and frustration of their constituents to victory.
After I left my polling place earlier today, I turned on my car radio and this was the first song that played. I don't think there could've been a more fitting selection for a day like today. Midterm elections are a mess of minor victories and similarly arbitrary defeats. People that vote for change are deluded to think that progress will happen overnight, and in a politically divided America the ability to accomplish anything signifigant will take years, if not decades. It is your god-given right to elect your leaders, but this year I didn't see many choices. Nearly everyone that went to the polls won and lost something today. In short, you can't always get what you want.