From the "all politics is local and all localities are national" department: of the 28 House seats that have changed hands from Republican to Democratic so far, a little over a third (ten) were in the Northeast. It'll be tough for the Republicans to recover those seats, certainly as long as they insist on being the party of greedheads and religious bigots, and Republicans could lose fellows like Chris Shays and Jim Gerlach next time around (plus Rob Simmons, if they haven't already). Two seats changed hands in Arizona, which is becoming (among other things) Florida West for elderly Northeasterners. Two seats changed hands in Iowa, which (unlike Illinois and Texas) has drawn districts so that they're competitive, imagine that. One each changed hands in Colorado and Minnesota, which have never struck me as places that ought to be particularly red. Two changed hands in Florida and one of those was Mark Foley's. One changed hands in California and that'll teach Richard Pombo to try to gut the Endangered Species Act. One changed hands in North Carolina and let's Heath Shuler and I make a deal, OK, in which he can be as pro-life and pro-gun as he wants but he fully explains what his opposition to illegal immigration has to do with an economic policy that helps the little guy? Three changed hands in Indiana and one in Wisconsin and I must confess I don't really understand why. One changed hands in Texas due to Tom DeLay's Law and one changed hands in Ohio due to Bob Ney's Law; I guess the one that changed hands in Kentucky and was due to Anne Northrup's Law. One changed hands in Kansas -- that's right, the state that stars in Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas? -- and, yikes, does that make Jim Ryun the worst House Rep ever?
Mr. Bush can, I suppose, content himself with never having to listen to the Northeast again -- and we can content ourselves with the notion that his kind do poorly in areas with lots of, you know, people in them, like, you know, most of the Northeast, and, like, you know, cities everywhere else. If the Democrats choose to accept this mission, they can build a lasting majority by (as Thomas Schaller suggests here) sealing up the Northeast and then picking off the rest of the country. And, over in the Senate, Bob Casey the Younger and Jim Webb and Jon Tester have taught Democrats how to win in the rest of the country -- i.e., be big-tent on abortion and/or gun control, but without pandering to the worst in Americans like Harold Ford the Younger did.
But regardless of who controls Congress, our work as citizens is the same -- we agitate for what we believe in, and our Representatives either follow suit or earn boatloads of bad karma that will hopefully one day result in, for example, an 18-point loss in a run at a third Senate term. Perhaps it'll be easier with Democrats in charge, or perhaps the organizations that supply me with action alerts will get complacent all at once. I don't really think they will -- it's hard to imagine the ACLU sitting back on warrantless wiretapping, or the EFF taking a breather on network neutrality. And Congress comes back soon to finish its work for the year, and since a bunch of these goofs aren't coming back, they might try to do as much damage as they can. But if good folks do get complacent, I'll just have to work harder. Whatever the fates ask of me, I'll do. But what's coming is certainly not a vacation from our duties.
That doesn't mean we shouldn't take take the time to celebrate the following truisms:
All that fearmongering the last two months failed to expand the Republican majority.
All that yelling and screaming about illegal immigration failed to expand the Republican majority.
All those gay marriage votes and flag-burning votes and Estate Tax votes in Congress failed to expand the Republican majority.
All those right-wing knuckleheads on the radio and on TV now have to attack the will of the people directly, instead of using the Democrats as their surrogates.
George Allen sure is Mr. Smooth, isn't he? But his career was ended by a real white man.
Karl Rove will never, ever, ever again be mistaken for a genius. I know, I know, you, too, were thinking "Mozart, Einstein, Rove." This guy ain't even Bismarck, yet the so-called "liberal media" couldn't get enough of him in 2002 and 2004. And what did he do that was so great in 2002 and 2004? He lied his posterior off and pandered to the most emotionally-crippled members of society. This takes genius? Genius requires, at the very least, utility to a community, or an understanding of people's lives as if they're not pawns on your great chessboard. Mr. Rove has never shown me any reason to believe that he understands either one. I'll be more than happy to pray for his redemption. Hey, it happens to the unlikeliest people. But I wouldn't lay money on it.