It is pretty much official: the Democrats have taken the House, the Senate, the Governorships, as well as most of the state legislators. It's pretty amazing, and I never expected it. This is something that gives me some faith in the American people. I wonder what's changed so much in the last two years since Bush won the last election, and why these fickle middle voters now have turned against him when they voted for him before. I'll probably never understand the folks in the middle who can vote one way one year and one way the next. The parties have clear differences and clear positions. These differences and positions are important for me every year, not just some years, so I just don't get how Bush's approval now stands at about one-third when just two years ago it was 51%.
As for the Democratic takeover, my main hope is that it's not in vain. The 2008 election is more important than this one, because the next President will probably appoint at least two more Supreme Court Justices, so it's important not to disappoint that fickle middle now. Dems need to do something over the next two years, and I'm excited to see what they might do.
A few things I'm especially pleased about:
1. Cardin beating Steele. Steele ran a great campaign, and convinced a lot of folks that he was a moderate Republican or just plain without a party. But he's not, and I'm glad that voters were smart enough to realize it. I'm glad black folks weren't fooled into voting for him by Russell Simmons ads on black radio; after all, this guy was from the administration that failed to support the Thornton Commission's funding of city schools.
2. I'm really intrigued by some of the possibilities of O'Malley becoming governor. City schools, as a whole, have improved markedly under his leadership in the city, even if my personal school situation has not. I thank him profusely for saving my job a few years back by lending the school system money and avoiding teacher layoffs. There were plenty of things I disagreed with him regarding education - I think he should have allowed the state takeover of a few of the failing high schools, for example, because it would have forced the city and state to work together and made the state put up or shut up - but having the state and city on the same side should be even better for the kids of Baltimore. Ehrlich was motivated to make Baltimore appear as horrible as possible, and O'Malley will be motivated by the opposite, and that can only make the city (and its schools) a better place, even if it means 11 months of Sheila Dixon as mayor. Bob Ehrlich spent four years in office doing almost nothing. He wasn't as bad as I thought he'd be - at worst he was just highly ineffectual - but his bash-Baltimore campaign really grew tired, and I'm glad to see the most negative campaigner I've ever seen head out the door. Basically, I think he's a combative dick, and I think O'Malley is a good person, and the type of leader who has the capacity to inspire. I've seen it happen before, in fact, in speeches to my students.
3. I've grown to really like McCandless in Missouri and Webb in Virginia, and seeing both of them win was inspiring.
4. Besides McCandless' gracious victory speech, and Schwartzenegger's funny victory line about sequels, the graceful concession speeches of Rick Santorum (!) and Harold Ford, Jr. were other highlights for me while watching the coverage.
5. Michigan seems to be a Democratic stronghold right now, which is kind of cool. However, I've heard really mixed things about the Governor.
1. With all the victories for Democrats, it was really disappointing to see Harold Ford, Jr., lose. A moderate black Democrat, he could have been a star someday. Plus, I loved his response to folks about why he attended the Playboy party. It's especially disheartening that he was up 47-44 a couple of weeks ago, and then the Republican Party ran the racist "Don't let those black folks sex our white women" ad and Ford suddenly was a few points behind. Other things happened in the interim, and I'd like to believe that those things contributed, because I'd hate to think it was just racism that made him lose.
2. I'm really disappointed that I was no able to vote for Kweisi Mfume. I like Cardin alright, but Mfume would have been a better Senator. And it's silly to talk about since obviously black people showed up in droves, but I would have been a lot less nervous in the last two weeks if I had known Mfume - who would have beat Steele handily, I'm pretty certain - was on the ticket.
3. One of the lowlights of the day was reading that Laura Ingraham, the conservative AM radio host who rivals Ann Coulter for worst celebrity in the country, encouraged her listeners to call the Democratic hotline established for voters to report voting problems. She succeeded in jamming the hotline a few times. She must really hate America.
4. I honestly hate hearing about raising the minimum wage, because I don't think it does hardly anything to help the poor and instead does more to give teenagers more spending money that they don't need. It's an issue, though, that voters love, so I guess so be it. I just wish that it wasn't made into such a big deal. Tell me what you're going to do about education. Tell me that you will protect a woman's right to choose. Tell me that you'll fully fund embryonic stem cell research. Tell me that you'll support gay civil unions. Minimum wage probably wouldn't make my top 50 of domestic social issues.
5. I'm bummed out the Tammy Duckworth lost.
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