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There is no shortage of disturbing/depressing meta-messages from last night's election results.

There was the "What's the Matter With Kansas" message of populism being channeled into the cause of elitism and aristocracy: For example, we saw an anti-Establishment/anti-corporate/anti-NAFTA/anti-government Tea Party electing to the Senate a Congressman's son (Rand Paul), a senator-turned-Washington-drug-lobbyist (Dan Coats) and George W. Bush's Trade Representative (Rob Portman).  

There was the "The Privileged Finish First" while "Good People Finish Last" message: For instance, principled Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, who has taken many a principled progressive stand, loses while appointed Sen. Thurston Bennet the III of Colorado, who has sold out on key issues, wins.*

And, of course, there was the "Celebrity Trumps Everything" message of our Sarah Palin-inspired idiocracy: As just one example, low-key-but-uber-serious Rep. David Obey (D) retires and is replaced by a Republican known only for being an MTV Real World star.

All of that said, though, there is one very positive meta-message that - arguably - trumps all of the negative ones - a meta-message that will be inevitably ignored by what Jon Stewart so aptly called the national media's D.C.-obsessed "conflictinator." You can see this deeper, far more important story in the ballot measures.

Ballot measures get ignored by the media because they don't involve personality - but that's exactly why they are so good at telling us what an election is all about. Precisely because they are exclusively about issues and stripped of all the personality/side issues that come with specific candidates, ballot measures tell us what voters are thinking. And when you look at what happened to the ballot measures here ithat exemplify the most pure form of conservative doctrine, you see an overwhelming rejection of that doctrine.

Colorado gives us a good example. Amendments 60, 61 and 101 were known here as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights on steroids - they would have mandated massive spending and tax cuts. On top of that, Amendment 62 was the so-called "personhood" amendment that would have effectively outlawed abortion. All of these amendments, as I said, represent a pure form of the core conservative budget, tax and social issues agenda - and all of them were defeated by a more than 2-to-1 margin in one of the most politically important swing-states in the country. Additionally, as the Denver Post notes, cities and counties throughout Colorado actually passed local measures raising revenues for key progressive public priorities.

This was not, mind you, isolated to Colorado. CNN reports that there was a similar trend all over the country, noting that "Voters in several states defeated major anti-tax measures on Tuesday, acknowledging that their financially-strapped governments need revenue to provide services."

I'm not saying last night was, overall, a terrific night for progressive politics. But I am saying that beneath all the national media's manufactured storylines and its inevitably focus on the D.C. palace drama, we can see what may end up being the most important long-term result of the 2010 election: When put up for a vote in an election that had everything aligned for conservatives, the conservative policy agenda was stopped dead in its tracks - and that very well could be a paradigm shift in our politics.

* To be clear, I wasn't in any way hoping for a Ken Buck victory in Colorado - and I said that nearly every single day on my Colorado radio show. However, I am pointing out the inarguably depressing meta-message of Feingold losing and Bennet winning.

Originally posted to davidsirota on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 11:29 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I remember when the people of Oregon (6+ / 0-)

    voted to raise taxes on themselves, and it was opposed by one of the rich millionaires that lived in Oregon. It was diaried on the front page about a year ago, I think.

    I work with B2B PAC, and all views and opinions in this account are my own.

    by slinkerwink on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 11:31:27 AM PDT

  •  And yes, people are aware that revenue (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arlene, lams712, TomP

    is needed to address problems, and they know cutting more corporate taxes and taxes for the wealthy isn't going to do it.

    I work with B2B PAC, and all views and opinions in this account are my own.

    by slinkerwink on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 11:32:00 AM PDT

  •  Nice diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lams712, TomP, CoExistNow

    A ray of hope in an otherwise gloomy day.

  •  To be clear, you were against Bennet from the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adam B, soms, RhodaA

    primary forward. So don't try backing away at this point, David. I heard your whining on the radio about that topic this morning.  Bennet took this seat in one of the worst environments for Dems in decades.

    I was hoping that maybe you'd give him credit for that, but I'm not holding my breath.

  •  Yes, there are some positives to come out.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, FiredUpInCA

    ....of last night's bloodbath.

    "...if my thought-dreams could be seen, they'd probably put my head in a guillotine...." {-8.13;-5.59}

    by lams712 on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 11:34:33 AM PDT

  •  People hate Democrats (10+ / 0-)

    People love Democratic policies.

    And the reason voters don't realize the disconnect is not that every single Democrat can't run a campaign.

    We need better Democratic voices. People who are as passionate for our side as Rush is for theirs.

    In short, we need fewer David Sirotas who will tell Democrats not to vote for Michael Bennet because he's not pure enough, and more loyal voices.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 11:35:15 AM PDT

  •  This is interesting. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FiredUpInCA

    Act Now, And You Get The Radical Homosexual FiloFax and Radical Homosexual Dayminder To Go With Your Radical Homosexual Agenda! -JML9999, 9.29.10

    by CoExistNow on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 11:36:20 AM PDT

  •  WHY Was Thurston Bennet III... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevej

    crowned Senator of Colorado in the first place?

    WHY has OFA been working tirelessly since 2008 to assure that Senator Thurston Bennet could bypass the democratic process and remain on his throne?

    I am VERRRY curious about this.  If anyone knows, please fill me in.

  •  It's the same old story: ignorant, fearful (0+ / 0-)

    pluralities are conned into voting against candidates whose policies they support.

    Same mentality that goes into "keep your government hands off of my Medicare".

  •  your portrayal of that CNN article is an (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    soms, edtastic

    abomination.

    Several states turns into "all over the country," when the article only speaks about Colorado, Massachusetts, Washington, and Missouri.  And voters in Washington also rejected increasing taxes on millionaires; Massachusetts rolled back a sales tax on alcohol; and in Missouri "measures to prohibit real estate sales or transfer taxes, as well as to ban local governments from imposing earnings taxes, were expected to pass."

  •  David, I usually trash your 'Democrats suck' riff (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bustacap, soms

    But this post was full of good info and gives me a little hope.  Obviously you hate Bennet but I'm glad as hell he kept Ken Buck out of the Senate.  And the Colorado trashing of those initiatives is great news.

    Andrew Mellon & GOP: 'In a Depression, assets return to their rightful owners'

    by Tuffie on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 11:54:36 AM PDT

  •  Looks Like Selective Reading of the Evidence (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jaywillie

    to me.

    To say this election was a turning point against conservative doctrine while at the same time, far-right extremists won many seats, is just plain foolish.

    Future elections for the house, senate, and the presidency WILL depend on "personality", not pure issues.

  •  I turned on your show (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    majii
    This morning with trepidation since I was expecting it to be 'David Downer' but was pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, the real lessons in this election (ballot initiatives, how Harry Reid won-see front page) will be lost unless people like you keep hammering away.  The media doesn't like being the 'bleeding edge' when it comes to breaking out in front of the pack. People like you who are not afraid to talk about the uncomfortable issues break ground for the rest of them. For that reason your message is not always popular but necessary.

    However, finding the silver lining in Colorado by voting for Bennet to defeat the expected narrative of GOP/Teaparty/BigGovernment is the problem has some value. Now that he is going back to Washington he owes us voters that held our nose to vote for him some chits that we need to cash in. Let's kick his butt and use his position w/ Washington to drive the message and infiltrate his circle with progressives that ask him to be accountable.  As I tell my kids, sometimes it feels like brownosing, and that stinks, but you don't get what you want unless you have a seat at the table.

    Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world--and never will. Mark Twain

    by whoknu on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 11:59:30 AM PDT

  •  And look at Florida (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Russ Jarmusch

    They approved sensible redistricting.  California did so in 2008, so these states, which together represent over 15% of the congressional districts in the nation will no longer be gerrymandered as badly.

    And in California they finally removed the 50% requirement for a budget. Yes, the oil company got it's 2/3 vote on fees, but the former is a much bigger deal.

    The conservatives have (and will always have) bigger fundamental problems than progressives. And that's without weighing in on who's "right" or "wrong". The problem with progressive ideas has always been that they are easy to poke holes based on feeling rather than facts, and scare people.  But conservative ideas have an even worse problem - they simply don't sustain themselves over time.  No matter what kinds of gains conservatives make, they begin losing ground the instant the gain occurs.  Because relatively free societies like ours over time tend towards "progress" and by definition progressive ideas do just that.

    This doesn't suggest complacency.  But it should be reassuring that maintaining a march forward for conservatism is an oxymoron.  Conservatism is like sticking your fingers in a leaky dam.  Sometimes, it may seem like your best short term option, but you always run out of fingers before the dam starts leaking unless someone comes along who is thinking about the future and fixes the basic cause of the leaks.

    Want a progressive global warming novel, not a right wing rant? Go to www.edwardgtalbot.com for a free audio thriller.

    by eparrot on Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 12:56:36 PM PDT

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