Midterm election results – from embarrassment to pride… and back again.

I remember how embarrassing it used to be, travelling to Europe, when Bush was in the White House. Both of them, actually, but especially the latter. People genuinely could not understand how someone like that could be elected in a country as supposedly sophisticated as the United States. I didn’t help in their understanding, because I certainly couldn’t understand it either. It was just an embarrassment that I hoped, in time, would be taken care of.

Clinton was great in so many ways. Nevertheless, the entire time he was in office, no matter what business of actual important was on the table, the Republicans relentlessly pursued whether or not he had sexual relations with that woman, and whether or not he subsequently lied about it. I kid you not, this is what the Republicans had to go on, and it’s all they could talk about, for… well, they’re still talking about it. They managed to stop so much from going forward based on this alone, it was some real sleight of hand there.

Then Bush the Less was elected. Here we were not dealing with the shady past of a man who had been the head of the country’s top spy outfit, but with a man who was obviously, clinically, below average intelligence. This was shocking, the first time he was elected. The second time, I’d say it was more humiliating. The fraud that we normally watchdog in the globe’s elections was allowed to run rampant here at home, and put someone who would probably be an embarrassment to most chimpanzees in office for a second time.

Finally, that period ended. We got it right. And we got it so right, people were overcome with an overflowing of emotions, pride, relief, pleasure, joy, satisfaction. We had elected our first African American President (I want to say our first black President, because that’s what we really care about, isn’t it? My parents were as removed from their family’s arrival in this country as Obama’s parents were, and yet mine were not referred to as French American or Swedish American). We had a woman as Secretary of State. We had a woman as Speaker of the House. And not to leave anyone out, a white-haired and well respected Vice President. The rainbow coalition, if there ever was one. Black and white. Young and old. Male and female. If anything stood for this country, this was it.

I didn’t get to travel outside of the country during this time, but I have corresponded with many people abroad, and all, from day one, were very pleased and even envious of being in a country like this. For them, it was mostly about Obama. But the fact that Obama had this network of support that crossed so many boundaries, this was what made it so enviable. It was really a Great American Dream.

Then we had the midterm elections.

Newly elevated House committee chairs

Newly elevated House committee chairs

Back to business as usual. The Old Boys’ Network. No women. No non-whites. All looking about the same age, or within 10 years of each other. They say things like “We’re going to do everything — and I mean everything we can do — to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can” [John Boehner, new Speaker of the House, speaking of the entire “Obama Agenda”].

A Huffington Post article on the recent examination by the Center for Public Integrity reports, “First, the top contenders are all men. Nearly all are white. Most have deep ties to the business community or the industries they will soon oversee. Some have former staffers who now work in the lobbying world and could seek influence before their committees. And many have gotten the lion’s share of their campaign monies the past two election cycles from special interest political action committees.” [The Chairmen: New House Leaders Have Familiar Ties to Business, Revolving Door].

So here we are, being embarrassed again. Can anyone really fathom what Americans are using for brains when they vote this way? Why they have memories of less than a year? Why they are so susceptible to what they see on Fox News? Why they are so obese? (Woops, that’s from a different article, but it does have some relevance I think!)

So yeah, the election is over, the results are in. And it’s like embarrassment, all over again.


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