So, yeah, that happened. Of course, when close to 1,000,000 Democrats just don’t come and vote it was bound to happen. That’s the dirty little secret about this cycle… it wasn’t really about Republican turnout or some change in the electorate to a Republican preference. November 2nd was all about a pretty massive Democratic undervote.
Don’t get me wrong, there has been a change in the electorate even in Texas. It’s less partisan and, like the rest of the country, angry about the economy. The Republicans have been given a chance and, frankly, it’s becoming very clear they don’t get understand that Election Day wasn’t a ringing endorsement of their pet causes. The biggest question is whether or not the D’s in DC get it. Do they understand that their failure to act decisively with regard to the economy (passing the too small ARRA, for example) cost them an election? Do they realize that their decision to give a huge handout to the insurance companies (the individual mandate in health care reform) cost them huge numbers of base voters and helped drive voters to Republicans?
It’s clear the President (here and here) and the media don’t really understand what happened. It’s clear to those of us who are really looking deep that Democrats just stayed home and Independents, dissatisfied with the excruciatingly slow pace of President Obama, not to mention his sops to industries they hate, cast a protest vote.
And the President seems hellbent on continuing the same strategy, I suppose operating under the theory that a broken clock is right twice a day so it’s only a matter of time until he looks good again. One thing is absolutely certain… any attempts at bipartisanship are, frankly, a waste of time since it doesn’t really offer any advantage to the Republicans. It’s also certain that everything the White House does will be reported on blogs and to a limited extent by the media so any attempts to cave on key issues will become widely known. This may well fuel a primary challenge.
In broader terms, this country has entered a time where ultra low frequency events are happening more and more often. There was an historical realignment of political power in the US in 2008. That realignment didn’t achieve what the country wanted, so the country made the decision (either by voting or choosing not to vote) to realign again. The same thing will happen in 2012. And 2014. and 2016 until one party or the other flips the state and actually does something to fix the underlying problem which is economic and social insecurity. The reality is that 30 years of rapidly expanding income and wealth inequality, coupled with negative real wage growth, has reduced the tolerance of Americans for economic pain to 0. The Republicans can say (and the media can report) this is about smaller government, the health care bill, etc. However, that’s the surface dross. Deep down, it’s about economic insecurity.
Just look at the polling around the health care bill reveals that wasn’t driving the electorate because support/opposition is split down the middle. On only two key points do you see a solid majority, repeal of the individual mandate and support for a public option insurer to keep the private insurers honest.
But enough about the country, let’s talk Texas…
Expectations of the Republicans are so high that there’s no way to satisfy them with a desire for no new taxes made clear by the electorate and a looming deficit larger than California’s. The Speaker’s race is a prime example with the CraddickCrats on one side and the actual Republicans on the other side. The scary thing about it is that Straus should be their guy. I mean, he’s a transition face for the Republican Party, something they’ve never had… component, able to govern well and conservative on fiscal issues. He’s an absolute nightmare for Democrats in Texas and the social conservatives are driving an effort to bring him down which is funny because their issues poll about as well in Texas as President Obama. My read is that the challenge is more bark than bite and Struas will survive which isn’t a good thing for Democrats. We can run against the rest of the statewide clowns who actually think their victories last week have something to do with them. Straus, on the other hand, is shrewd and smart. Think Rick Perry’s political skills (and his machine) coupled with actual competence and none of the blunders.
That’s not to say the aforementioned problems are somehow going to melt away and I have an idea how they’re going to solve the budget crisis in Texas… selling off infrastructure. It’s helped out Chicago…
It was December 1, 2008. That morning would be the first time that the Chicago City Council would be formally notified that Mayor Richard Daley had struck a deal with Morgan Stanley to lease all of Chicago’s parking meters for seventy-five years. The final amount of the bid was $1,156,500,000, a lump sum to be paid to the city of Chicago for seventy-five years’ worth of parking meter revenue.
This is, basically, what Texas has been doing with, for example, Texas 130. We’ve been selling off long term leases (which are, in no uncertain terms, effective ownership) to state assets for up front payments. Now, keep in mind these are politicians so they don’t always get the best deal for those assets…
You might remember me talking about it 17 months ago. Here’s a little more about what a SWEAT deal this is for private investors… and a lousy one for taxpayers. This time around, the money we get out of these deals won’t give us a payout we can use for other roads. All it will do is cover the deficit in the next biennium so Perry, who is out promoting his book, can say he balanced the budget without raising taxes. Nevermind that he had to sell off vital assets that were built by taxpayers to do it.
The thing is, this time around, I’m all for it. We’ve been fighting against these horrible deals for years. Now it’s time to let it happen. It’s extremely clear to me now that in Texas, people aren’t going to do anything until they feel some real pain.
So, ladies and gentleman, bring the pain!