Monday, November 09, 2009

2010 midterm elections

Sayeth the prophet:
Because [Republicans] aren’t interested in actually governing, they feed the base’s frenzy instead of trying to curb or channel it. So all the old restraints are gone.

In the short run, this may help Democrats, as it did in that New York race. But maybe not: elections aren’t necessarily won by the candidate with the most rational argument. They’re often determined, instead, by events and economic conditions.

In fact, the party of Limbaugh and Beck could well make major gains in the midterm elections. The Obama administration’s job-creation efforts have fallen short, so that unemployment is likely to stay disastrously high through next year and beyond. The banker-friendly bailout of Wall Street has angered voters, and might even let Republicans claim the mantle of economic populism. Conservatives may not have better ideas, but voters might support them out of sheer frustration.
Did I call it or did I call it?
The Democrats will probably take the White House and Congress in 2008 no matter what they do, but they've handed the Republican party enough ammunition and control over the political narrative that the 2008 administration and Congress will be completely ineffectual. The Republicans will take Congress in 2010 and the White House in 2012.


I made a number of other predictions in that post. Let's see how I'm doing so far (remember, the original was written before the current depression).

Specifically we will see from the 2008 Democratic government:

Continued occupation of Iraq: Check
Military hostilities against Iran: Not yet
Corporatist control of the mass media: Check
Loss of more primary manufacturing capacity: Check
Erosion of the middle class: Check
Collapsing housing prices: Big Check
Devaluation of the currency: Not yet, but inevitable
No substantial change to the employer-insurance health care system: See below
More working Americans without health insurance or adequate health care: Missed this one; see below
More concentration of wealth in the top 1% and even more in the top 0.1%: Check
More erosion of basic constitutional civil liberties: Check
Update: more erosion of abortion rights: Check

We will not see:

Repeal of FISA or its amendments: Check
Repeal of the Military Commissions Act: See below
Restoration of habeus corpus: Check
Universal or even near-universal health care: See below
Cessation of torture as military and police policy: Maybe; See below
Any substantial action on global warming: Check (so far)
Ratification of the Kyoto treaty or any comparable international action: Check
Any high-level member of the Bush administration being held to criminal account: Check (with the possible exception of Scooter Libby, which was pure tokenism)

Health Care: It looks like some form of "universal" health care may pass; I really didn't think the Democrats would get even this far. On the other hand, it's about the weakest, half-assed "universal" health care imaginable, and women's reproductive rights have not only been ignored but actively rolled back. Krugman is cautiously optimistic but only because he believes something is better than nothing; and the most one can say about this plan is that it's better than nothing.

Military Commissions Act: The MCA was found unconstitutional. Technically it was not "repealed", but I did expect the Supreme Court to uphold it.

Torture: While there's no evidence that the military under the Obama administration is actually torturing people, Obama has gone out of his way not to abjure torture as at least a policy option.

Still and all, not too shabby a predictive effort for a guy without access to Lexis/Nexis.

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