The winners and losers from this election, hidden amidst the noise

Summary:  The Reagan Revolution moved the US from a center-left to a center-neutral political balance.  The Clinton years were a time-out in the drift toward conservationism.  This election completes the Bush Jr years’ transformation of the US to a center-right nation.  This post considers some of the implications, looking at some winners and losers.

Winner:  Defense contractors, senior leaders of the US military and intelligence agencies

The Republicans elected will support our foreign wars unquestioningly and enthusiastically.   Investigations into scandals will be suppressed, whether of personal misconduct, institutional misconduct (e.g., torture and other war crimes), poorly performing weapons systems, and dysfunctional strategy and tactics.  Military funding will not be cut, except at the margin.  The new Republicans will vote for new weapons systems, no matter how poorly conceived and unaffordable.

Winner:  Big government

The primary drivers of government growth during the past decades have been military, intelligence, law enforcement, and programs for the elderly.  All of these were big winners yesterday.  The new representatives will assault spending on a wide range of small Federal programs: foreign aid, welfare, and education.  Plus the quixotic chase after  fraud, waste, earmarks.  Large spending programs, such as subsidies for corporations (e.g., exporters, agribusiness) will remain untouched.  The result will be a minimal change in Federal spending.  The reach and power of government over citizens will probably on the whole increase, as domestic surveillance and arbitrary prosecutors’ power increase.

Comment from a reader:  “The nice thing about that line is that you can use it again when the Dems come back.”

Winner: Jihadists

New leaders for American who enthusiastically supporting foreign wars and war crimes, divisive both domestically and internationally, explicitly hating Islam — this election was a hat trick for bin Laden and his fellow jihadists.  They could only win by inciting people into opposition to the western culture slowly infiltrating Islamic nations.  They needed a powerful agent whose outrageous actions would force Moslems out of their complacency.  Bin Laden chose the US for this role, and we accepted his offer.

It’s the Tactics of Mistake, from the novel of that name by Gordon R. Dickson (go here for a detailed analysis):

{My goal is} to trap deCastries into a personal fencing match with me, so that I can gradually lead him into larger and larger conflicts — until he commits himself completely in a final encounter where I can use his cumulative errors of judgement to destroy him.

If you listen, you might hear their cry of “Allah Akbar” ringing across the globe.

Loser:  The Constitution

Our Constitutional regime consists of a complex array of stresses and balances, and requires a sophisticated architecture to remain standing (which explains the failure of so many other regimes, despite well-written constitutions).   The extreme right’s focus on certain elements of the Constitution no more makes them adequate guardians than a shoe fetishist as CEO of a shoe manufacturer.

The USA faces many challenges as we enter a new century.  A demographic transitions, with the aging of the baby boom.  Financial, coping with our past debts and lavish promises of future spending.  Geopolitical, adjusting to the arrival of new great powers and the evolution of a new global financial system.  Economic, such as the approach and arrival of peak oil.  Many of these will require strong Federal action.  Simple-minded and angry ideologues, relying on an imaginary invisible hand and examples of rugged individualism of an imaginary past, probably will put this nation on the track to ruin. 

The Consitution lies weak and exhausted at our feet.  Now we will dance upon it, spurring the long, slow transition to a new political order.

For more information

Perhaps the single most revealing article about the new populists:  “Ignorance Is Bliss for the Tea Party Crowd“, Bruce Bartlett, 20 March 2010

See the FM reference page Politics in America.

Posts about the Tea Party:

  1. Are the new “tea party” protests a grass roots rebellion or agitprop?, 1 March 2009
  2. Our ruling elites scamper and play while our world burns, 11 March 2009
  3. The weak link in America’s political regime, 16 September 2009
  4. More examples of Americans waking up – should we rejoice?, 10 October 2009
  5. Does the Tea Party movement remind you of the movie “Meet John Doe”?, 27 January 2010
  6. Listen to the crowds cheering Sarah Palin, hear the hammerblows of another nail in the Constitution’s coffin, 8 February 2010
  7. The Tea Party movement develops a platform. It’s the Underpants Gnomes Business Plan!, 8 March 2010
  8. About the Tea Party Movement: who they are and what they believe, 19 March 2010
  9. The Tea Party Movement disproves my recommendation for the path to reforming America, 20 April 2010
  10. At last we see a Tea Party political platform, 13 May 2010
  11. Kinsley – “My Country, Tis of Me – There’s nothing patriotic about the Tea Party Patriots”, 15 May 2010
  12. Why has wild man Mark Williams become a top leader of the Tea Party movement?, 13 June 2010
  13. More people participating in politics: is this good for America?, 20 June 2010
  14. Obama scores again against the Constitution. The Tea Party is right about the battle, but AWOL., 28 September 2010

3 thoughts on “The winners and losers from this election, hidden amidst the noise”

  1. Was the election a rebuke to too-liberal Democrats? Or did their defeat result from ineffective government, little change, and a bad economy?

    This provides an answer: “Blue Dog Coalition Crushed By GOP Wave Election“, Amanda Terkel, Huffington Post, 3 November 2010 — Excerpt:

    According to an analysis by The Huffington Post, 22 of the 46 Blue Dogs up for re-election went down on Tuesday. Notable losses included Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-S.D.), the coalition’s co-chair for administration, and Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.), the co-chair for policy. Two members were running for higher office (both lost), four were retiring and three races were still too close to call.

    The Blue Dogs, a coalition of moderate to conservative Democrats in the House, have consistently frustrated their more progressive colleagues and activists within the party, especially during the health care debate. Blue Dog members pushed to limit the scope and the cost of the legislation and resisted some of the mandates of the bill. Last summer, seven of the eight Blue Dogs on the House Energy and Commerce Committee even threatened to block health care reform unless it met their cost requirements.

    Other areas where Blue Dogs have helped put the brakes on ambitious progressive priorities are global warming measures and legislation that would make it easier for workers to unionize.

  2. We’re already seeing the results of the election.

    The Tea Party, born in opposition to bank-friendly government, elects even more bank-friendly government

    Rep Spencer Bachus (R-Alabama) Plots to Weaken Financial Regulation, Strengthen Banks“, Matthew Yglesias, ThinkProgress, 4 November 2010 — Opening:

    I think relatively few people understand that one of the principal substantive complaints the new Republican House majority has about Barack Obama is that he’s been unkind to the incumbent firms in the financial services sector. But here’s Spencer Bachus, the likely new chair of the relevant committee, firing warning shots on behalf of Wall Street: …

  3. Conclusion from “9 Takeaways From the Election“, Michael Cohen, AOL News, 3 November 2010:

    Voters Are Incoherent

    The other problem that no one wants to mention or talk about is that what voters want from Washington is fundamentally contradictory, incoherent and ill-informed. “Fix the economy and create jobs but don’t spend any money to do it.” “Extend the Bush tax cuts, but cut the deficit.” “Stop raising my taxes, even though I got a tax cut last year.” “No to socialized medicine, but protect my Medicare.” “Govern in a post-partisan style, but don’t mind us as we reward obstructionism.” I could go on.

    Your guess is as good as mine as to how you govern a country that is so unclear about what it wants from its elected leaders.

    Perhaps my favorite result from last night was one that asked who is to blame for “current economic problems.” A plurality of voters Tuesday answered “Wall Street bankers” and yet voted for the party of big business and Wall Street, Republicans, by a 56 to 42 percent margin.

    Who Lost

    If you’re looking for help from Washington in fixing the economy and creating jobs; if you’re worried about America’s declining education system and crumbling infrastructure; if you’re worried about climate change and you want to see America wean itself off foreign oil by developing clean energy alternatives; in short, if you want to see Congress and the president tackle the serious national challenges facing the country, well don’t hold your breath. The next two years are going to be defined by gridlock in D.C. and political jockeying by both parties for 2012.

    So if you want to know who lost Tuesday: You did.

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