There were some upsets in last night's 2010 primary elections, to be sure. Voters on the left and right, and everywhere in-between, seem disgusted with the behavior and non-performance exhibited by their representatives and senators in Washington, D.C. Ultra-conservative Tea Party activists and candidates spout poorly-defined slogans about "taking our country back" (back to the 18th century?) and Republicans are foaming at the mouth as they hungrily contemplate retaking the House this fall (dream on, idiots). But voter anger cannot be dismissed, as it is a very real force, and last night, that anger manifested itself in a number of curious ways.
What CAN be dismissed are media and conservative Republican pundits' assertions that the Democrats are in big trouble and will be surrendering the House and/or Senate to the Republicans this fall.
In what was supposed to be a perfect Republican coup, Democrat Mark Critz soundly defeated his Republican opponent in a special election held in Pennsylvania's 12 th District (the deceased Jack Murtha's old seat). Republicans were licking their chops thinking they would pick up this swing-district seat, thereby "proving" that the nation is firmly opposed to President Obama's and the Democrats' spending policies and would send Obama and his party a big, loud message. Well, Republicans, that's what you get for thinkin', and for assuming the rest of the country thinks as narrowly as you do!
Progressive Pennsylvania Democrat Joe Sestak scored an important primary victory over his Republican-conveniently-turned-Democrat incumbent opponent in the Senate race for that state. More evidence that voters haven't abandoned Democratic or progressive causes.
Arlen Specter went down to defeat as voters expressed their distrust in him and their displeasure with his self-serving political maneuvering. How foolhardy can Specter be? Did he really think a guy who had strongly supported much of George W. Bush's agenda, and who had voted to confirm both Samuel Alito and John Roberts to the Supreme Court would be overwhelming accepted and embraced by Pennsylvia's Democratic Party? Obviously, he thought his new party was as slack on principles as was he!
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was thoroughly rebuked by his Kentucky Republican constituency last night. While trying to play kingpin in the state GOP, his efforts blew up in his face when his hand-picked candidate for Senate, Trey Grayson, was trounced by Tea Party independent Rand Paul. McConnell shouldn't be surprised, though. Voters are fed-up with obstruction and petty partisan politics, activities McConnell has heavily engaged in for many years. This also brings into question McConnell's legitimacy as the leader of his party in the Senate. We can only hope that we are seeing the beginning of the end of Mitch McConnell!
Arkansas conservative Democrat Blanche Lincoln, the "Senator from Wal Mart" and corporate shill for the health insurance insurance industry, was forced into a runoff election because she failed to attain at least 50% of the vote against her strong primary challenger Bill Halter. Sizable numbers of Arkansas voters have become fed up with her sellout to corporate America, especially in the area of health care reform. She may well retain her seat in the end, but growing numbers of people are beginning to agree with the more progressive Halter's line of thinking.
So much for John Boehner's hopes of becoming Sppeaker of the House next fall. There is absolutely no way voters will endorse his and his party's attempts at obstruction and non-governance, nor will voters easily forget that it was conservative Republicans who so badly mismanaged our economy so as to nearly bring about a new Great Depression two years ago!
Voters nationwide are justifiably angry with their Congress. It is full of corporate shills and self-serving egomaniacs whose main interest is in power and petty partisan politics rather than sound public policy. But we as a people must honestly recognize that we, as well as the unresponsive and irresponsible politicians we see in Washington, are to blame for the unrepresentative type of governance we are experiencing. We keep electing and then re-electing bozos like Boehner, McConnell, Specter, Lincoln, and Michele Bachmann. These people are not salt of the earth types, or average workers. By and large, as I proved in my piece on the makeup of Congress early last year, they come by and large from elite or monied backgrounds and are beholden to big monied interests. Not only that, but once they get into office, few outside of the media or the blogging community ever bother to keep tabs on them or monitor their performance. Almost nobody emails them, calls their office, writes them letters, or goes to meet with them face to face at public gatherings. So think about this, America: next time you are caught up in a huge wave of anti-incumbency, remember who it was who put these people in power and has allowed them to stay there and performed unchecked and unchallenged: it was YOU!