Were You Looking for Midterm Election Thoughts?

Were you looking for midterm election thoughts on Opus Publicum? I hope not, because I really don’t have any. As should be pretty clear by now, I am not a “political junkie” even though I consider myself to be generally informed about state- and national-level political trends. Moreover, to paraphrase a “Tweet” I read last night, U.S. elections come down to deciding which flavor of liberalism will prevail; there is no serious opposition going on. Still, I confess that I spent an inordinate (roughly three hours) amount of time listening to/watching election coverage, including the free online streams of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. What did I learn from doing that? Only that Jon Stewart has a very difficult time in front of a live camera. Though I almost never watch his show, I can’t imagine that the regular taped editions feature anywhere near the amount of verbal fumbling I heard last night. It was almost painful.

Beyond that there isn’t much to report. The Republican Party increased its majority in the House while taking control of the Senate. That’s a recipe for further congressional deadlock, which isn’t the worst thing in the world considering the players involved. So, since nothing will get done in Washington, we now we have two years (yes two years) of 2016 campaigning to look forward to. A few pundits have speculated that 2016 may see the rise of more third-party candidates, but my hunch is that probably won’t be true for any major national election. There’s too much at stake. Others believe that 2016 will just be more of the same old, same old; even if the Democrats take back control of the Senate, they may very well lose the Presidency. What this seems to mean is the steady reemergence of what I will call “federalism by gridlock.” As lawmakers in D.C. regularly fail to pass meaningful legislation (e.g., minimum wage increases), state lawmakers and voter referendums will have to continue stepping in to fill the void left by federal inaction. This is, in fact, already happening across the country. For those who like to champion states’ rights, this probably seems like a victory. However, given the mixed quality state legislative bodies and the general lack of media monitoring of their behavior, there are good reasons to worry about this trend.