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The Midterm Elections: A Victory for America

George Foster - November 16th, 2006
Last Tuesday, tidal waves of Democrats were swept into office by ornery voters in a rebellious mood. As a result, Republicans are now licking their wounds, while Democrats celebrate grabbing control of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
Before you giddy Democrats get too carried away, don’t forget that our country’s ideological divide is still about the same. After the floodwaters of this election recede, Democrats will be a slight majority in Congress. Republicans were barely
in charge before that. Fed-up voters wanted to make a statement - you can decide
what it was.
I will say, though, this election resulted in major changes benefiting us all aside from the makeup of winning and losing candidates. For example, more Americans were engaged with the issues of the election. This was reflected in the Michigan’s overall 53% turnout, very
good for a midterm election. Nationwide, the percentage of eligible voters casting their ballots was also up slightly to 40%. Many precincts even ran out of ballots and had to reproduce thousands from the
office copier.
The most important voting trend may be that voter turnout for those eligible under 30 years of age increased by two million voters. The youth of today have the reputation of being more interested in video games and Myspace.com than debating, say, the fate of our troops fighting in Iraq. Hopefully, voter apathy is on the wane.
Another good result of this election has been the dispelling of the myth that our government was moving toward autocratic rule. Some opponents of the Bush Administration have pointed to recent laws limiting habeas corpus and attempts to justify torture of prisoners as proof of a coming Republican coup. Calm down, people. Another orderly transition between political parties in this democratic election should quiet such cynical thinking for a while.
Actually, it should be obvious that our government works best when one party is not solely in control. While monopolizing all branches of government for the last six years, many Republicans in Congress lost respect for their Democratic counterparts - to their own detriment. With fewer checks and balances on Republican leadership, the resulting scandals in Congress since 2000 are too numerous to list.
It was also interesting that, despite the overwhelmingly unfavorable polls against Republican incumbents nationally, Democrats were skeptical of their prospects for this election. The reason: Karl Rove. Because of his 2000 and 2004 election successes, the President’s long-time political guru has been anointed as a deity by his supporters - and an evil combination of Attila the Hun and Albert Einstein by opponents.
Democrats had been speculating for months on the nature of an “October Surprise” that Rove had in mind for this election. The release of another grainy video from Osama? A postponement of elections due to Level Red security concerns? An invasion of Iran? Most ominous of all - would Rove authorize a return of the Swift-Boat Veterans to attack Democrats just when they thought they could win? Karl Rove had Democrats shaking in their boots, wondering how he was going to steal yet another election.
Last Tuesday proved that Rove is not Superman after all. His “divide and conquer” political style does not have to prevail. In fact, such policies are toxic for America.
Rove had turned “rallying the base” into an art form. Demonizing gay people or “cutting and running” in Iraq may help bring out targeted supporters to the voting booths, but, in turn, are needlessly divisive to America at a time of war when we most need to find common ground. Rove’s tactics failed in last week’s election - hopefully, slammed into oblivion.
Karl, there is an important chapter you must have missed in your political science courses. In a democracy, our leaders are elected to govern you and me and all Americans, not just selected hard-core supporters.
Since the election, President Bush and his Democratic opponents have made a special point to show respect for each other. If such newfound civility can be maintained, that may be the best result of all from these elections.
 
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