Democrats may pick up a lot of seats in Congress in less than a week and then again they may not. If they do, though, it's not exactly cause to celebrate, because American politicians in general are moving right. As a people, Americans aren't moving right, not at all. Where is the widespread enthusiasm for this amazing tax-cut-bred economy, for example? Where are the marchers in the streets denouncing the "unfairness" of the "death tax"? If you answered "nonexistent" and "nonexistent," you see my point. But the most right-wing Americans nonetheless seem to be the most motivated group at the polls. And the Democrats don't have unions to bring out the vote anymore, so now they have to chase corporate money just like Republicans do. You see the problem, of course: in this climate it's easy to scare the most right-wing Americans -- many of whom are just as suspicious of, and angry about, corporate power as I am -- into electing pro-corporate right-wing big-strutters in a game of bait and switch.
Democrats spend too much time and money chasing that vote, instead of motivating the multitudes of voters who usually stay home. People who stay home on Election Day are not evil, and getting them to come out is not a matter of pretending you like NASCAR. Democrats may get 90% of the black vote, for example, but plenty of black folks stay home because they think the Democrats take them for granted. Plenty of other folks don't vote Democrat because they (justifiably) automatically link Democrats with gun control, and they might vote Democrat otherwise. If between 20 and 30 seats switch sides this year, you're not going to have 20 to 30 more liberals in the House. You'll have more folks like Ken Lucas, Jack Davis, and Heath Shuler than you'll have folks like Tony Trupiano, James Wright, and Jeeni Criscenzo. In contrast, when the Republicans stormed back in 1994, you didn't have a lot of moderates taking over those seats; you had a lot of Lindsey Grahams. The Senate might actually take a more leftward lurch than the House, if Bob Casey, Jon Tester, Jim Webb, and Sherrod Brown all win. But are any of these fellows Frank Church? I doubt it.
The job of being Frank Church will fall on the people, as usual. I'm not so nuts that I'll say I relish the challenge -- that's a boast people who watch too much ESPN make. But as an American, I won't refuse it.