Where We Stand

America may well have woken this morning to, as the ever-annoying David Brooks wrote in the New York Times, “No Tsunami,” but yesterday’s elections returned control of the U.S. House of Representatives to the Democrats, and depending on the outcome of two races that remain undecided, the Democrats will either also control the U.S. Senate, or the upper chamber will be nearly evenly split between them and the Republicans.

Voting in numbers more robust than generally expected for an off-year election, the country signaled a modicum of disapproval toward the Republicans, who have controlled both houses of congress as well as the presidency for six years. But while the only seats changing hands in either the Senate or the House went from Republican to Democrat, vast numbers of incumbents from both parties were issued return tickets to Washington by voters back home.

Two senate races, in Montana and Virginia, remain too close to call, with less than a full percentage point separating the candidates. Outcomes in those contests will likely hinge on the counting of absentee and provisional ballots, and possibly on recounts. Thirteen House seats are still in doubt, and it could be weeks before the extent of the Demorats’ majority is fully known.

Update, Nov.8: Former Senator Conrad Burns has conceded defeat to Democratic challenger Jon Tester in Montana. Many are calling for Republican George Allen to do the same for Democrat Jim Webb in Virginia, though it appears Mr. Allen may take additional time to consider his legal and procedural options.

Update#2, Nov.9: Republican George Allen conceded the Senate race in Virginia to his Democratic challenger, Jim Webb today, giving the former opposition party control of both houses of congress for the first time in more than a decade.

What is known is that some of the most strident right wing voices lately raised in Washington have been silenced. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and former California congressman Richard Pombo, two of the country’s most rabid conservatives, were both sent home to ponder what went wrong with their anti-civil rights, anti-environment stances on public policy.

For the most part, however, it’s the same as it ever was. Democrats, from the presumptive Speaker-to-be of the House, California congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, to the head of the Democratic National Coordinating Committe, New York Senator Charles Schumer, may hammer at the theme of change they perceive as a mandate from yesterday’s results, but with so many incumbents returning to Washington, and such an effectively even split in the legislature, it could not be more clear to this observer that the country remains bitterly divided against itself. With intransigent, unapologetic reactionary conservatives still controlling the Executive branch, the final two years of George W. Bush’s presidency promise to be sullen, at best.

Will Ms. Pelosi be able to keep her promise that impeachment of the president is “off the table”? Will Democrats lead a charge to effect immediate, substantive change in our “strategy for victory” in Iraq, and in the wider war on terrorism? Will the realignment of the nation’s income tax priorities, pushed through during the Bush administration, be permitted to stand? Will our trade policies change? Will up-or-down votes on the president’s nominees to the judiciary begin to materialize?

The Democrats should be given time to reveal whatever vision it is their leadership has in mind for this relative shift in Washington’s balance of power. It’s also naive to think immediate change is on the horizon for the challenges we face with our dependence on oil from the Middle East, and in the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea.

While no massive wave of progressive thought, or commitment to reform of the process by which we govern ourselves appears to have washed over the land, the results from yesterday’s elections are a much-needed breath of fresh air.


  1. deep throat - November 8, 2006 @ 9:17 am

    While this certainly feels good, this election is muchmore about what’s not working than what we can do. The democrats still show no strength of character, no wise and mighty beings that can be a true leader for the country. We need leaders, not replacements for even worse politicians. While I’m very happy to see the political landscape change from red to blue, it’s still the same colors and same game in the end.. just tweaked a bit.

    I am praying for a different type of human to be a world leader.. what are you doing these days LD?

  2. Mike - November 8, 2006 @ 10:58 am

    I for one am very happy about the election results. Just got done listening to Pres. Bush’s press conference and have to admit he’s finally looking somewhat Presidential. Why? Because now he must actually govern, and by that I mean he must actually listen to others and create policy that is more than just the wish list of his inner circle.

    What has changed? No longer can he couch each issue in a “you’re with us or against us” approach. Need evidence? Rumsfeld is out, almost unceremoniously and only one week after the President assured us he was not out. Can Chaney be far behind? If not I predict he will be more circumspect. Maybe he’ll go on a loong hunting trip. I know Rumsfeld has time on his hands now.

    About 2 weeks ago I had the opportunity to actually meet and talk to Nancy Pelosi up close and personal. She wants to move the country forward and she wants to do it with age-old Democratic values. Yes, she has taken impeachment off the table. How would such a tactic serve the country? How effective could Clinton be while undergoing the same? By working with the administration the dems may actuall be able to get some things changed. By fighting them on such a fundamental level all we will see is more conflict, i.e much heat, very little light.

    I agree that Dems have had little concrete policy to offer, but they have also been working under a great cloud of fearing to be labled “liberal”. Oh my god, that’s jsut a step away from being a teraitor in the old “with us or against us” playbook. I for one hope we are past just juvenile thought process.


  3. CHARLES PITTS - November 8, 2006 @ 1:48 pm

    No the people still did not wake up
    This is just the start
    Too much
    Junk tv and news

    We have so much more
    to demand from our government
    cutting the power of government
    cutting the power of big business
    living wage jobs
    better medical care
    better news coverage
    better pollution clean up and control

    the list of things
    needed to make our society better
    is quite long
    much longer then to address here

  4. Tam O’Tellico - November 8, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

    L: as the ever-annoying David Brooks wrote in the New York Times, “no tsunami”

    Well, Lon, what do you expect from a far-left, pinko commie rag like the NY Times? While this election may not have been a tsunami, “the water” is obviously far over David Brooks’ head.

    Even the fool who would be king finally got the message. Calling Republican defeat “a thumping” is the most honest statement to come out of his mouth in six years. Maybe – just maybe, he now realizes that no one can govern effectively in this country from the far pavilions of political extremes.

    Certainly, the firing of Rumsfeld is a good sign, and points to the fact that the President can at least be influences by the Military News – and his wife.

    As for what we can expect from the Dems, unlike the Republican sheep, they can be expected to at least attempt to exercise their constitutional duty to check the worst excesses of this president and his NeoCon/FreeMarket uberology.

    Lacking a clear majority that may prove difficult. But that could lead to a good thing – cooperation between moderates in both camps who do not wish to see their political fortunes swept away by a future tsunami (take that DB).

    But if the Republicans refuse to cooperate and attempt to thwart the Democrats, the blood is already in the water, and you can expect Waxman, Rangel and Conyers – who have plenty of ill-will stored up and are only looking for an excuse to vent – to pursue impeachment regardless of the wished of party leadership. Those three old dogs have little to lose by going their own way.

    And in the end, impeachment may be pursued because that will be the only way to avoid the tsunami of pardons that will flood Washington in the last days of this corrupt administration.

    In the meantime, the rest of us can rejoice in the fact that the lunatic fringe does not control this country (yet).

  5. charles rachlis - November 8, 2006 @ 5:51 pm

    Where is the the party that will stand and fight for:
    Jobs for all at a living wage.
    Educational opportunity to the University level for all who desire to advance their education.
    An end to childhood poverty. An end to the fear of aging in poverty.
    Medical care for all.
    Clean air, water, and food source for all.
    Reparations for resources taken by force of arms or economic threat from the third world.
    Reparations for lives and labor stolen from the caste of slaves whose economic contribution to the power and glory of the United States was never made available to their progeny.

    Until real questions of economic inequality, nationally and internationally, are addressed it will be more of the ole same old…Rally to the left for the election…Pander to African Americans, Latinos, the working class and women for the 2008 presidential run then forget who brung you to the the party and dance with the boy with the buldging wallet full of corporate donations.

    The liberals and Democrats pose well but when push comes to shove they won’t fight for the needs of the majority of working people. Clinton dropped the ball on health care then “reformed” welfare forcing single moms to work double jobs at minimum wage. The Democrats in power do the dirty work the Republicans can’t. They get their toast buttered by the corporations, shrug their shoulders and claim the cost of elections makes them do it.

    Meanwhile nearly the majority of American eligible to vote do not vote. Most Americans live on the brink of economic disaster either illness, job loss or retirement can put them in the poor house if they are not there already. They know who the Democrats and Republicans represent and therefore can not be bothered to vote for them. Unorganized they can be ignored. Organized they can turn this country around.

    Missing on the sceen is an independent working class political party, free from corporate influence, based on the unions, organizing the working class communities, the inner cities, building strong ties to our laboring immigrant brothers and sisters. Only such a party can formulate a program and organize the type of movement required to upset the apple cart of the haves and meet the needs of the have nots.

    Yes its nice to see Pombo and Santorum get sent to the corner with their dunce hats on. However, the Democrats who showed no backbone and even went along with the Republicans accepting the lies which got us into Iraq, voting for the Patriot Act, voting to fund the war are no friends of working people.

    The current environmental crisis alone calls for an end to corporate domination of the world economy. Their drive for profit and determination to externalize all environmental costs, their quest to employ the lowest wage workers internationally, and secure resources as needed puts them in direct contradiction to the establishment of a socially just and environmentally sustainable world economy. The Democrats may end up voting for dykes to stop the rising tide but in the end their love of profit will keep them in the corporate camp of exploiters and polluters.

    Break with the Democratic/Republican Regime.

  6. www.gizzarelli.org - November 8, 2006 @ 6:05 pm

    gosh darn you write a lot, Lonnie!

    The people like change. That’s what makes our country so great, in my opinion. When one system gets old, we have a back up. That way, we keep the rest of the world guessing! … or atleast confused!


  7. lonbud - November 8, 2006 @ 10:29 pm

    G: Sadly, it’s our country’s fear of change that anchors the problem, in my view. Superficial — cosmetic — change, we’re all for that. But change at the level of the collective root chakra, we’re not so interested in. I think mostly what the rest of the world guesses about is how we got so lucky with this continent and these resources.

  8. Michael Herdegen - November 9, 2006 @ 3:02 am

    I think mostly what the rest of the world guesses about is how we got so lucky with this continent and these resources.

    No, it’s the people, not the land. If all that mattered were natural resources, then Africa would be the Jewel of Earth, instead of the steaming cesspool that it is currently.

    Middle Eastern nations have controlled most of the world’s most sought-after resource for decades, and with the exception of Qatar and the UAE, they’ve managed to do NOTHING with the resulting largess that’ll last past the end of their oil.

    Conversely, Japan has very little in the way of natural resources, and yet they’ve built the world’s second-largest economy. A few centuries before the Japanese did such, the Dutch managed the same trick, building a globe-spanning empire out of little more than farmland and access to the seas.

    Culture is 9/10ths of a society’s success.

  9. lonbud - November 9, 2006 @ 9:11 am

    Good points, all, Michael (and nice to see you again, btw), however, the United States of America enjoys a unique combination of cultural, geographic, and natural resource assets, without which the hegemon we know today would not likely have come about.

    Had not our swath of the North American tectonic plate — amber waves of grain, purple mountains’ majesty, from sea to shining sea — been available for the taking in the 16th century, the Brits would likely still be kings of the hill. Or maybe not. There can be little doubt, however, that the temperate climate and rich resources of our land have contributed mightily to the success, and dominance, of our culture.

  10. shannie - November 9, 2006 @ 9:16 pm

    I have enjoyed your comments and sometimes agreed and sometimes disagreed…

    I guess I have been so pissed off in general with the last 6 years that i have waited…

    So..be back soon with more…


  11. lonbud - November 10, 2006 @ 7:27 pm

    Do come back, BoBannie… I know you have a lot to offer here.

    In fact, I’ve picked up a sense that the new breeze in the political air might empower some of my progressive thinking readers to chime in more…

    Let’s run with it, y’all! Time to raise the roof off this suckah…

  12. charles rachlis - November 10, 2006 @ 10:27 pm

    Michael H’s claim that “its the people not the resources” is most typical of racists who ignore the role Europe and the United States played in the underdevelopment of Africa and the Near East.
    Let us remember who colonized Africa at gun point, burdened the natives with Christian foolishness, set up plantations and monocropping at the expense of native self sufficient agricultural methods, set up mining and oil extraction sending the profits back to Europe, enslaved 10 million plus sending them across the sea to “the new world”…Oh yes, it was those culturally advanced Europeans who would have been just as successful if they had not supplied this new world with slaves, who made cotton king, which supplied the mills of England with the raw material to set off the industrial revolution, enriching both Europe and the USA. The arrogance of the colonizer 400 years after his conquest is amazing. Looking down on the heathen hordes whose land was raped, whose people were enslaved, who were denied self determination and the opportunity of making himself superior. No doubt the white man’s burden is difficult, but his wealth is stolen; as is the land we live on today. It is easy to forget that, when the European was running around in furs bludgeoning each other to death with clubs, the African had developed cataract and other surgury methods; the Arabs had developed algebra and the fundementals and tools of navigation. It is so easy to be superior and look down upon the “steaming cesspool” created by the jack boots of empire builders. Your comments remind me of the NAZI guards looking at the filthy Jew in the concentration camp, calling him scum for being covered in mud, or calling the Jewess he just raped a whore. Get real Michael. Japan and the Netherlands accumulated their wealth at the expense of others; Quatar and the UAE, their wealth is oil based. Yet you blame the South African (who is mineral rich) for his destitution because he allowed himself to be overrun by your European brethren.

  13. Meredith Charpantier - November 11, 2006 @ 2:54 pm

    That last comment is a hard one to follow. I just wanted to pipe in with what looks to me like positive signs for a better future. If it isn’t too gauche (or left) of me in these not yet Tsunami times. This last election finally turned out the young vote and swept up all stray youth, non-white, non-wealthy, non-zealot, non-male voters back into the fold of god loving, flag waving, yankee doodle Democrats.! The only group to still vote majority republican were over 100,000 dollar annual income earners and religious white males. And since there are fewer and fewer people in both of those contingencies, Democrats may be able to keep their seats a while and begin to recollect their values and broaden the debate back into the western hemisphere of the political spectrum. Or so says Mr Bluebird on my shoulder. And it sure is nice to have him back.

  14. Leland Nichols - November 14, 2006 @ 11:06 am

    I share “Polyanna’s ” view. I’m an agnositc but I don’t hate Evangelicals, I don’t own a gun but I don’t hate hunters, I’m gay but I understand why some people oppose gay marriage, and I’m not rich but if I were I suppose I’d grumble about taxes. (Thought I’d still vote Democratic!)

    The point is that I think the new Democratic party can, and should, serve us all. Oh, yeah, and that Obama is the best candidate to represent me.

  15. lonbud - November 14, 2006 @ 2:36 pm

    Hey, I’m not rich and I grumble about taxes anyway! Look at the crap taxes get spent on. I’d feel much better about paying taxes if so much of it didn’t go to the Pentagon and corporate welfare. I think we need a new tax revolution in this country.

  16. Meredith Charpantier - November 16, 2006 @ 3:19 pm

    We do need a new tax revolution and a new electoral college: taxation without representation tea party, and several other nitpicky wonky uprisings. We need a whole lot of business-NOT-as-usual and we desperately need to shake out the tried and tired cliches which cloak the party lines and rob the discourse of its essential value. It IS possible to be a democrat and be disatisfied with taxer-spenders, it IS feasible to be on the right and want to protect our hard won civil rights. Just as its quite possible to be patriotic and revolutionary. You rebel you.

  17. Tam O’Tellico - November 17, 2006 @ 4:27 pm

    Frankly, we do NOT need a tax revolution – in fact, as a percentage of income, America is undertaxed – at least in comparison to many other industrialized nations.

    What we need is people in govt who act like adults instead of kids in a candy store when it comes to spending those tax dollars. That is not an easy as it may sound since there are so many worthwhile choices.

    But instead of choosing judiciously among worthy expenditures, we get billions and trillions spent on stupid wars and stupid new weapons – while the previous generation of weapons end up in the hands of petty dictators and third-world bazaars – where they are turned against us.

    Why is this so? Ike had it right – forget the Commies (and I would add the Terrorists) – what we have most to fear is the Military-Industrial Complex. I doubt that even in his wildest fears Ol’ Ike imagined the kind of incestuous relationship we now have between Congress and defense contractors. If you doubt that, ask Duke Cunningham or the bastards at Custer Battles http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7306162/site/newsweek/

    Tell ’em what every good lawyers knows, Lon – if you want to catch a crook, follow the money. One thing I’m looking forward to in the coming months is the rat-bastard execs from companies like Halliburton and KBR who will be grilled in front of Henry Waxman and John Conyers.

    And unlike the Republicans did with the oil company execs, this time around the perps will be sworn in.

  18. Paul Burke - November 21, 2006 @ 9:45 am

    What we need is people in govt who act like adults instead of kids in a candy store when it comes to spending those tax dollars.

    “You are correct sir!”

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