Despite what many of today’s headlines read, the results from Tuesday’s balloting don’t amount to a GOP defeat or a Democratic win. They’re simply barometer readings.
Still, America’s progressives can breathe a sigh of relief at the fact that the anti-Obama, far-right conservatism that seemed to be sweeping the nation since last year is either waning or was never as deep as many people thought it was. Across the country, for the most part, conservative initiatives were struck down from Ohio to Mississippi, from Maine to, well, Mississippi.
Most Democrats kept their jobs, too. The Democratic governor of Kentucky, Steve Beshear, won reelection in the state that elected the ultraconservative Rand Paul to the U.S. Senate in the Republican tsunami of 2010. Baltimore, Philadelphia and Phoenix kept their Democratic mayors, and Edwin M. Lee, the son of Chinese immigrants, is on the verge of become San Francisco’s first Chinese-American mayor. (Diversity is a win for progressives.)
Surprisingly enough – and even more refreshing news for the nation’s left – one politician who did not win reelection last night was the Republican state senator from Arizona, Russell Pearce, who was the lead author of the state’s controversial immigration law. Pearce, president of the state senate, is the first state senator to be recalled in Arizona history.
Last night, however, was not a victory for the Democrats. Most Republican officials kept their jobs too, and the GOP nearly gained control of the state senates in Virginia and Iowa, which would’ve given them complete control of the governments in those states. (Side note: It’s still not clear which party will control the Virginia State Senate, and a 20-20 tie would be a win for the GOP; the tiebreaker, Virginia’s lieutenant governor, is a Republican.)
For progressives and the Democratic Party, the events of last night represent a reassurance that all is not lost. Democratic values are still popular in America, and the party could even see a major resurgence next November – that is, if the party’s voters show up to the polls.
To President Obama and the Democrats, the people’s message seems clear: we’re growing tired of your do-nothingness, but we’re still willing to hear your plans for America’s future.
Let’s hope they have one.