Nobody I voted for won yesterday. In the case of not voting for Kirsten Gillibrand, I didn't expect her nominal opponent, Gail Goodwin to win; still, it's kind of telling that nearly one in four New York Democrats, given a choice, picked anyone but Gillibrand, not even caring who Goodwin was (I for one, was surprised to discover I even had a choice).
In the case of Attorney General, I had some hope that Dinallo would at least make a good showing, even if Eric Schneiderman wound up winning. But Dinallo came in dead last (memo to self: any connection to Spitzer is probably a dealbreaker), and Kathleen Rice's campaign against Schneiderman had the desired effect of putting her in serious contention, though even she didn't inspire enough confidence to edge out the party's choice.
My Mom went the winning route, and I accused of being sheep (as did my friend Jennifer, when I mentioned it to her). But these days, we may all be covered in raw wool. As much as there were some surprises last night, mostly the tale of these elections is a tale mainly about status quo, about anger going nowhere, and about fear of change mostly trumping the possibility of any. I'd like to think Charlie Rangel took away the wrong lessons from his solid victory over primary challengers, but he's probably right: he doesn't need to be grateful, just more determined to steamroll any investigation, any accusation of wrongdoing, true or not. Voters are a detail, not the reason you do your job.
I saw Red again for the first time in months last night, a lovely dinner of catching up and sharing thoughts and encouragement (we both needed it). But on politics, we were both a little stuck for something to say, never ind argue passionately. Sure it's hard when you share similar beliefs, but that didn't used to stop us from arguing away the minor details of some obscure policy decision. Last night, though, there didn't seem to be a point. The bad stuff was just too bad, the lack of inspiration too apparent.
For months - close to a year, really - we've been treated to assertions that this election is a "Tea Party moment", though no one, really, can exactly spell out what that means, much beyond a moment of voter anger, mostly concentrated on the right wing, that seems determined to vote in new, unfamiliar names to replace the older, still sort of obscure ones. That Carl Paladino managed to trounce Rick Lazio was less proof of some Tea Party Uprising than a reminder that Lazio was a weak choice by the New York Republicans who never had a shot anyway. And the night's most heralded Tea Party win, by Christine O'Donnell in Delaware over longtime, but not especially remarkable, pol Mike Castle, was further proof, as if it was needed, that years of running unopposed weakens the political instincts. O'Donnell was beatable months ago; for months, Castle didn't really try. And when he did - in fairly brutal fashion - it was too late.
O'Donnell may win - considering she's a known (crazy) quantity in Delaware and already lost once to Joe Biden, it's no slam dunk - but really, the effect of treating voters as sheep works no matter who wins there, or many other places. Democrats will reliably turn out for the Democrat, Republicans will be energized to do the same for their party, and few on either side will want to consider the alternative. But neither side, really, has made a positive, affirmative case for election or reelection. Republicans want voters to hate Obama and the Democratic Congress and fear the changes inherent in things like health care "reform". Democrats want voters to hate the idea of going back to the GW Bush era. They're both kind of right... it's just all kind of beside the point.
As I say a lot these days, in may contexts - I'm not angry... just disappointed. I'm not angry about being treated like a sheep-like voter, herded this way and that, just disappointed that so few Democrats seem interested in appealing to my brain rather than my one-sided instincts. I'm not angry about the failures of government to tackle the hard issues, just disappointed that the will to do the hard stuff is just nonexistent. I'm not angry at us as a country. I'm just disappointed. We're better than this. Except, of course, if nothing changes... then we're not. Baaaaaa....