There has been much made today in the aftermath of Tuesday's elections. It was a pretty big day for the GOP winning the two big Governor races in New Jersey and Virginia as well as some state races across the country though not in New York district 23. This was the race between Democrat Owens, Republican Scozzafava and Conservative Party candidate Hoffman. Plenty of words have been offered towards the so called civil war within the GOP causing the Democrat to gain an office held by Republicans since the 1880s. You'll find many members of the Democrat party calling this the only important race as far as national politics go. Your general Republican would say it means nothing but a turn coat screwed the race. I believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
First of all, let us consider the argument that NY-23 was about national politics while VA and NJ were only statewide races. And I do believe this is where we can find the real truth of the matter. These two Governor races showed that statewide issues were paramount. "Jobs" was the word of the day and I'm not sure anyone can really argue that point. I'm sure the same issues were part of the NY race. Let us consider that this was a Republican district over the years, if perhaps not a conservative one. It is a large district that encompasses both conservative rural areas and liberal college towns. As with all congressional districts, it has an odd shape thanks to districting. And though much was made of the conservative wildcard, he was apparently from the district until he was redistricted out and certainly gained a sizable vote even in the loss. 11 GOP party members picked Scozzafava to run in a special election because President Obama named the previous congressman the Secretary of the Army. There will be a new election next year in the normal election cycle. There was no primary here. The voters only got to pick on the last day. If you ask me, this too was a race more about the state than the nation. Though the later certainly is important.
This NY race was an election that showed the problems within the NY GOP, as can be seen in many states across the nation. Look at the mayor of NYC. Bloomberg had the law changed so he could run for a third term (something seen in Venezuela or Honduras) and then way outspent his Democrat opponent only to poll very closely and eek out a win. It was rather humorous to see the networks list him as an "R" early in the evening only to finally change it to an "I" later to perhaps downplay the GOP victory. For whatever reason, it is clear that Bloomberg is no conservative. If they exist in NY, they need to assert themselves and they did so in the Hoffman campaign. This does effect the national scene however as it shows that NY is not immune to the Tea Party movement. Like any movement, it will have its crazies, but at its root is a notion of the Constitution, to me anyway. To others, it may mean something far different, a tendency of grass roots efforts - they are not particularly well organized and the message can easily be lost as others try and take it over. Think of any anti-war protest over the last ten years - you'll always find a ton of other causes thrown in there. The voice of "the people" in this country remains strong.
In the end, I think what we can see in all three of these races is a certain dissatisfaction with the status quo. Obama was elected on the sense of hope and change and nothing has occurred yet that shows any of that is actually happening. The people will remain unhappy with those in power, regardless of the party, as long as they continue to spend with the irresponsibility as they do and continue to do it with our money...and continue to achieve nothing but something worse than before. The New York district mentioned above is just another example of that. It is large, diverse and unhappy with the way things have been run. That is why they voted in a different party after 100 years and nearly voted in a third party candidate that caused the Republican not only to withdraw but then endorse the Democrat. Clearly, she was no loyal Republican. I remain mystified why the NY GOP actually picked her other than that they clearly aren't very conservative and are certainly in a state if disarray. Thankfully, they are working it out just like every other state party. In truth, I like this focus on the states. It helps remind where the power truly resides in this country. First the Congress, which does give the Democrats their victory last night (Pelosi was right - two seats gained.) Then the States, especially as a wonderful breeding ground for new ideas that trickle up to the national level. VA and NJ switched last night and that will be felt, especially as the Dems wanted VA to become solidly (so-called) blue. And then the people, who while holding an immense amount of power must work through the levels of government created to protect our God given rights. They had their say yesterday, certainly.
Then, perhaps, the President. He has a loud voice, to be sure, but relies on the work of many others, not always successfully. Obama sees the same troubles Bush ran into, and Clinton before him...and so on and so on. This and any other President should know this:
Voters are tired of the same old thing. They are tired of career politicians that do nothing but gain for their own interest. They are tired of voting for people that say they will do one thing and then do something other. And Obama is not immune. Still waiting for that promised Guantanamo Bay closure, which I don't even agree with. Haven't seen that transparency and accountability, which I would like to see. Certainly waiting for that change of tone in Washington - a perennial promise. And desperately hoping a decision (already made, I thought) will come down the pike very soon on Afghanistan, for the troop's sake if not the wider war (both rather important!) Let us not forget, we dropped the ball there for years, right? We should not do the same now. But that's another post...I digress.
For the 2009 election, NY 23 created a lot of thought and perhaps the internal look the GOP needs to make across the nation before they can be trusted to run anything again - here is your national level political look. While about state issues, the thought easily bleeds across to the nation as a whole, as it should. VA and NJ will be telling on this matter. A new Contract with America will not do it. We saw how that turned out once Bush got into office. The people are still looking for that promised hope and change voted for and we have not yet seen it. Working from the ground up, we may next year or soon after. But the GOP needs to learn the true message of the Tea Party and other movements and not just try to co-opt their strength, as should the Democrats if they are smart. And for any politician that thinks the people will just accept what they want to do FOR us...think again. While some citizens may wish to abrogate their own personal responsibility, there are plenty of others that just want the government to get out of the way. From taxes to abortion, from guns to drugs, from welfare to marriage, and from energy to the internet...just get out of the way. Regulation is one thing. Taking it over is something far different. Choice is the operative word. And it is hard to choose something when the federal government does nothing but demand. That is all.