The United States nationally participates every two years in perpetual rebirth as defined by the founding fathers. The securing of a representative legislature for governance occupies the first article of the Constitution, laid out in means by which renewal and stability can co-exist. The house of representatives allied most closely to local expressions is positioned to reflect the feelings of the electorate as to their sense of representation and influence over the nation’s direction. The election of senators, adjusted by amendment to the constitution remains positioned at six years in the post to be more immune to the day to day emotional shifts of the electorate. As the senate elections are however staggered such that a number of senators are nationally exposed to assessment at every election, there remains the potential that if the local district ,the statewide electorate, and the national zen are emotionally confluent in the interpretation of the country’s direction, a wave election is possible.
Wave elections are not necessarily about substantial increases in a party’s representation in Congress. They speak more toward a fundamental shift in the electorate’s sense of the country needing to change direction, and the effects typically extend beyond the current election and may influence several election cycles. Maybe no sea change in electoral philosophy expressed through a wave election will fundamentally top the epic wave of the 1930-32 elections. For almost 70 years since the Civil War, the country had maintained a confident sense of destiny through self actualization and growth that resisted intermittent economic downturns and for the majority of elections left a Republican bias in place. In the depths of the depression, however, the country demanded a hard tack to the left that has influenced the nation’s course ever since. The 1930 Congress was composed of a house of 267 republicans and 163 democrats, a senate of 56 republicans 39 democrats and a republican President. Just two years later, the electorate converted the house to 313 democrats and 117 republicans, the senate to 59 democrats and 36 republicans, and the Presidency to FDR. This dramatic change was not simply a “throw the bums out” reflex. It reflected the country’s conversion from a self reliant, libertarian concept of life to a community driven, safety net philosophy that has never left. With minor ebbs and flows, the Democrat wave secured the House of Representatives for the next 31 of 33 elections, the Senate for the next 25 of 27 elections, and the Presidency for the next 7-9 elections.
Now that’s a wave.
With the increasing influence of money and the immediacy of social media, it seems that the ability for the country to digest the effectiveness of governance and the re-orientation of priorities has been fundamentally effected. Waves have steadily turned to ripples as the effects of the wave are often cut off by the manipulative influences of media driven by money. With billions now spent on elections, most of it to the prosperity of those that deliver the message, there is an industry developing to convert elections into mini-waves, increasing the hostility and inaccuracy of the discourse, and guaranteeing the progressive expenditure of money to adjust. The waves have progressively shortened almost to the extent of each election cycle, driven by the media’s need to create conflict, and deflect the momentum of a philosophic governmental change. The shorter attention spans of the electorate, driven by the more emotional immediacy of the message, contributes to this, and plays into the hands of those who wish to control the country’s direction.
A pattern of back and forth waves, with more radical peaks and troughs, has settled in. The “Reagan Revolution” flowed for a decade, until the 1992 election re-oriented the country back towards collective economic security with the end of the Cold War and the election of Clinton. Almost immediately, the Clinton in your face style with the push toward universal healthcare, led to pushback, with the unexpected Republican takeover of Congress with republican “wave” of 64 seats in 1994, leading to the ultimate politician Clinton shifting to the right, abandoning his wife’s healthcare initiative, cooperating with welfare reform and declaring “the era of big government is over”. Not so fast. The overreach of the congress with the Clinton impeachment drove a schizophrenic election of 2000 that hung on a couple ballot chads, and within two years led to a republican President driving a massive governmental infusion into healthcare with the formation of Medicare Part D, covering for the first time prescriptions. The cataclysm of 9/11 briefly aligned the country’s vision on the international stage, only to lead to the democrat wave of 2006, which wrenched a sharp escalation in the concept of debt investment and government influence, resulting in the election of the most liberal President in history, comfortable with doubling the size the nation’s debt accumulated in over 230 years, in just five, with the enthusiastic support of the democrat majority in congress. This budget busting philosophy and a back room push of government take over of healthcare, the liberal uberweapon to control populations, led to the Republican “wave” of 2010, in which the president himself declared his party to have absorbed a “shellacking”.
The apparent”shellacking” delivered by the electorate in 2010 this time, however, led to no perceptive changes in governance, as the presence of enormous money and the shorter attention spans was maximized by the president in collapsing the wave with his re-election of 2012. The power of the election to influence government policy proved progressively powerless against the use of media to propagate distortions and out and out lies through the power of social media. “If you want to keep your health insurance, you will keep it. Period”. ” The massive stimulus plan of 2009-2010, will create hundreds of thousands of “shovel ready jobs”. The IRS political motivated suppression of free speech to reduce influence of conservative discourse in elections contained “not a smidgen of corruption.” The Benghazi terrorist attack was a “response to a Youtube video.” One could go on and on and on.
The 2012 election secured the undoing of the 2010 election. What should we therefore make of 2014? The polls suggest the country is again deliberating on a potentially massive “wave” response to the lack of influence of the 2010 election to change anything. History suggests that the result will have less influence on the government’s tactics than one would suppose. The President already is describing a massive extra-legislative process to change the country’s demographics through the executive edicts to achieve immigration “reform”, feeling himself immune to both election results and potential extra-constitutional actions. Have we reached a point where the democratic process has lost its capacity to influence government, that responds instead to the flow of money and the real time manipulation of the social media emotions through propagandistic distortion?
Like all defenders of the ramparts of civilized society, I remain wistful about the potential ability of a democracy to stop internal decay, restore fiscal sanity, secure its borders and principles of citizenship, defend against external enemies, and providentially commit to its future. A 2014 “wave” to restrain the collapse of these ideals so influencing our current administration is the least we can hope for. Recent history is not comforting.
On November 4th, outcome aside, it behooves us as defenders of the Ramparts to attend the barricades and vote for change one more time, and fight, fight against the dying the light.
Maybe this time, we can hold the potential of renewal beyond the satisfaction of winning an election night.