I am tired. I am tired of speech
and of action. In the heart of me
you will find a tiny handful of
dust. Take it and blow it out
upon the wind. Let the wind have
it and it will find its way home.
– Tennessee Williams
Here in rural New Hampshire, in this town without a traffic light, with a population so small that it would have trouble filling a Pop Warner football stadium, the old folks came out to vote in force on Tuesday.
We vote here at the Community Center on Main Street, an old clapboard building with a coat of white paint that remembers the Eisenhower administration. It has wheelchair access, and thank God for it, because squadrons of elderly voters on Tuesday went through the long endurance required in order to simply leave the house, and came out, and made it inside the polling place, and got their ballots, and cut their chosen “X” through the provided spaces, and slipped their ballot into the box, and left the way they came: proud voters, each wearing an “I Voted” sticker that announced they had done their duty.
I am world-weary enough at this point to swallow my tongue when I witness this kind of phenomenon first-hand while reading about how national turnout for Tuesday’s midterm elections was historically low. When the President of the United States gave a press conference the day after an electoral wipeout of historic proportions to basically apologize for even feigning to represent the things that inspired people to vote for him in the first place, I didn’t blink. People for whom voting requires half a day’s hard effort showed up to cast their ballots, while the President could not summon the will to explain why his party might deserve their vote, and I refused to be surprised or astonished or disappointed.
Par for the course.
Hell, I called it on the third of October. “Come November,” I wrote at the time, “if the Democrats wind up flopping and flailing for an explanation as to why they got routed at the polls, let me offer a succinct reply: You stand for nothing. You are the Washington Generals to the Harlem Globetrotters. Everyone expects you to go down to defeat, because you always lay down, because you are paid to do so. It doesn’t have to be that way, but that’s the way it is. When the midterms eat you alive, remember what I said. When you stand for nothing, you get nothing in return.”
Arkansas: Pryor got beat. Colorado: Mark Udall got beat. Kentucky: Alison Lundergan Grimes got beat like a steel drum. Iowa: Bruce Braley got beat by the demonstrably insane Joni Ernst. North Carolina: Kay Hagan, thrashed. In Illinois, Bruce Rauner won even as the citizens of that state passed a pile of ballot initiatives that Rauner will reject, given the chance. Sam Brownback has run Kansas literally into the ground, but will be governor again. Martha Coakley can’t campaign her way out of a wet paper sack. The bright blue state of Maryland will have a bright red Republican governor named Larry Hogan.
What did they stand for, the defeated ones? No one knows, and now they’re gone.
We managed here, with the geriatric squad being the only crew with the requisite number of damns to give in order to summon the will to actually raise their hands on the most important day of the year, to jettison the unendurable political herpe that is Scott Brown. Maggie Hassan likewise managed to hold the governorship. It’s a hell of a thing when New Hampshire comes off as the liberal whackadoo state that actually votes for people who intend to govern. Go figure.
I’m really glad the DCCC sent out those thousands of doom-and-gloom fundraising emails over the last couple of months. You know, the ones that said “It’s over” and “Don’t bother” and “TRAGIC NEWS” and the like. That really seemed to do the trick, yeah? I hate to quote myself again, but I’m going to: “Here’s a memo to whoever came up with this particularly obnoxious fundraising tactic: You suck. I hope you get fired with such velocity that you can’t even get a job drowning puppies in a kill shelter.”
So here’s what happens next: In a diligent effort to appear conciliatory and bipartisan, President Barack Obama will be neck-deep in the set-your-watch-by-it upcoming congressional effort to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to slash Social Security benefits by way of the chained CPI, and to pass the Keystone XL oil pipeline. These things will have to happen because the Democrats must compromise, don’tcha know. The President wanted these things before Tuesday – and we know this by his own words – and now he can have them…oh, and God help our soldiers, along with anyone who gets in their way, because no one else will; they’re going to be busy as hell for another two years, if not more.
The environment. The wars. The economy. The living and the dead, and the damned besides. We are not our brother’s keeper, despite all the strident oratory that would have us believe this nation actually stands for something beyond bedrock greed, lazy coddled indolence, and bluejeans on the cheap. That much, at least, was proven on Tuesday.
“God is a comedian,” said H.L. Mencken, “playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.” The old folks here in rural New Hampshire came out on Main Street to vote on Tuesday. Most of the rest of the country couldn’t be bothered, or weren’t given a reason, or were denied the chance, and we will all reap the whirlwind because of it, again. So it goes.