After staying up all night following the election results and eating far too many chocolate M&Ms I turned on my radio to hear what the local Nice, Polite Republicans have to say on the elections. And I found out that I know no-o-o-thing! Nothing. So.
This is what I learned, seriously: The Congress is becoming more conservative, because moderate Republicans were thrown out but dyed-in-the-wool extreme wingnuts retained their seats. AND the new Democrats are more conservative than, say, Noam Chomsky, which means, by simple arithmetic, that Americans are becoming more right-wing. So this was a victory for conservatism. (Just to keep a small ray of sanity in this game, might I remind the experts at the NPR that the Democrats just took the House and probably the Senate, too. FROM the Republican party.)
I need a new radio, by the way, which is sad but I was also elated by the sudden realization that Echidne, too, could be a pundit in the media. Though I need some training in how to explain why a conservative Democrat is to the right of a moderate Republican in every single case.
Ezra Klein posted about a somewhat more refined version of the same myth:
It's nice to finally write one of these election wrap-ups that doesn't have to account for a massive Democratic disappointment. Change is good, right? What it does have to do is punch back against the remarkably coordinated and quick campaign from the right (and sometimes the right includes the left) seeking to paint this election as some sort of victory for ... conservatism.
The ideological spectrum is a tricky thing. Take Heath Schuler, exhibit A in the rightwing Democrats meme. He's a cultural conservative, no doubt. But however far right he drifts on those issues -- which, under a Democratic Congress, he won't be voting on because they won't be brought to floor -- he's notably left on economic issues. Today, for instance, he's giving a press conference under the auspices of the United Steelworkers with Great Liberal Hope Sherrod Brown, where they'll discuss the need for new trade policies and their success in making active opposition to NAFTA a winning issue. That's not centrist Democrat. It's not moderate liberal. That's populism, kids, and it's leftier than polite company has allowed for quite some time.
See how quickly the so-called liberal media functions to rearrange our memories and understanding? We are becoming more conservative.....more conservative....your eyes are closing....more conservative....you're feeling sleepy...
If you are one of the group which can't be hypnotized perhaps you'd care for a nice plateful of the sensible center? That's the other new meme, eagerly disseminated by pundits in the know:
In private talks before the election, Emanuel and other top Democrats told their members they cannot allow the party's liberal wing to dominate the agenda next year. Democrats will hold 30 or 35 seats that went for Bush in the past, meaning that Democratic candidates such as Brad Ellsworth in rural Indiana are likely to face competitive races again in 2008. Still, their interests are likely to collide with those of veteran liberals such as Reps. Henry A. Waxman (Calif.) and John Conyers Jr., (Mich.), who will chair committees.
Now this is fascinating, especially when you compare it to this quote from the very same article:
The loss provoked the start of what could be a painful period of self-examination among Republicans eager to find answers, or place blame. With moderates in the Northeast falling, the Republican conference will grow more conservative. Some said they expect Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (Ill.) to step aside as party leader after the fallout from the page scandal and a new younger generation vowing to return to the promise and principles of the Gingrich revolution hopes to take the reins. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), one of several younger conservatives who has lashed out at his party's veering from core fiscal and social principles, is planning to run for leadership.
So the wingnuts will move out towards the most extreme wing, the one that just gently tickles Attila the Hun's tinfoil helmet, and the Democrats crawl behind them towards the mythical middle. Ok.
Here comes the Echidne-in-a-serious-pundit-suit bit: The election was mostly a loud scream of rage at the Bush administration and at the corruption and the twisted sexuality scandals of the wingnut party. A tsunami of screams, if you like, and in some areas the tsunami took away moderate Republicans because there was a less moderate non-Republican alternative, and in other areas it took away more conservative Republicans and let the somewhat less conservative Democrats stay alive. In some places the conservatism was too ingrained to move with the tsunami. And that's why the landscape looks like it does today.
This didn't cost you anything, either, though you could send me some chocolate for my blogiversary if you so desire. Or money for it...