The election was a protest, not a mandate

Voters across the nation gave the Republican Party numerous and unexpected victories for state and national office, while approving liberal and progressive ballot referendums.  If the election was a mandate, what exactly was it a mandate for?

For an answer, I strongly recommend Lambert Strether’s comprehensive, analysis of the election on the Naked Capitalism web site, and, if you have time, the articles to which he links.

1619934320_Democrat_Donkey_DonkeyHotey_CC_Flickr_answer_3_xlargeAlaskans voted in favor of raising the minimum wage, legalizing marijuana and regulating mining companies.  Arkansans, Arizonans, Nebraskans and South Dakotans also voted in favor of raising the minimum wage.  Denton, Texas, voted to ban fracking.  Yet all these places voted Republican in the midterm election.

I don’t think it is because voters in these states misunderstand their true interests.  Most people have a clear and accurate idea of what they want and need.  And I don’t think it is a result of failure of communication of Democratic leaders.  It is because a majority of the population lost ground economically during the past six years.

You don’t have to be an expert on national politics to know whether you are better off or not.  As John Dewey said, you do not have to have knowledge of shoe-making to know whether your shoes fit or not.

Exit polls showed that 53% of voters have an unfavorable opinion of the Democratic Party, while 56% have an unfavorable opinion of the Republican Party.  So for voters, it wasn’t even a vote against the perceived lesser evil.  It was a vote against the incumbent evil.

Lambert Strether pointed out that Democrats such as Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, who are known as fighters for social justice, won re-election.  It was the DINOs—Democrats in name only—who went down to defeat.

The election for Mayor and Council of Richmond, California, showed that big money is not invincible when the issues are clear.  Chevron plans to expand its oil refinery so as to be able to process tar sands bitumen into high-sulfur crude oil, which many community activists oppose on health and safety grounds.  Chevron spent millions of dollars to support a slate of candidates for city office, but the opposition slate won.

In my opinion, it is futile to expect leaders such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or Andrew Cuomo to change direction.  Change can only come through a primary-by-primary transformation of the Democratic Party, similar to what the Tea Party faction did with the Republicans, but in a different direction.

Or through a third party movement or resurgent labor movement strong enough to scare the two major parties.  Or, the least likely possibility, through the transformation of the Republican Party into what it claims to be—the champion of the property-owning American middle class against abuses of power.


Midterms 2014: The Red Wedding for Democrats by Lambert Strether for Naked Capitalism.

While Democrats Did Terribly, Progressive Politics Did Very Well at the Ballot Box by Jon Walker for FireDogLake.

Progressives capture City Hall and Council, fending off Chevron money by Richmond Confidential.  (Hat tip to Bill Harvey)


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2 Responses to “The election was a protest, not a mandate”

  1. Gunny G Says:

    Reblogged this on BLOGGING BAD w/Gunny G ~ "CLINGERS of AMERICA!".


  2. Chico Says:

    Movements and referendums seem to be the only methods of change these days.


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