Wednesday, November 5, 2014
The decline of Party Politics in Madison, Washington D.C. and around the country
Yesterday, millions of Americans cast their ballots. Republicans had a good night, and I congratulate all the candidates who won.
But what stands out to me is that the message Americans sent yesterday is one you've sent for several elections in a row now. You expect the people you elect to work as hard as you do. You expect us to focus on your ambitions -- not ours -- and you want us to get the job done. Period.
I plan on spending every moment of the next two years rolling up my sleeves and working as hard as I can for the American people. This country has made real and undeniable progress in the six years since the 2008 economic crisis. But our work will not be done until every single American feels the gains of a growing economy where it matters most: in your own lives.
While I'm sure we'll continue to disagree on some issues that we're passionate about, I'm eager to work with Congress over the next two years to get the job done. The challenges that lay ahead of us are far too important to allow partisanship or ideology to prevent our progress as a nation.
As we make progress, I'll need your help, too. Over the weeks and months ahead, I'll be looking to Americans like you, asking you to stay engaged.
I am optimistic about our future. Because for all the maps plastered across our screens today, for all the cynics who say otherwise, we are more than a simple collection of red and blue states. We are the United States.
And yesterday, millions of Americans -- Democrats and Republicans, women and men, young and old, black and white -- took the time out of their day to perform a simple, profound act of citizenship. That's something we shouldn't forget amid the din of political commentary. Because making progress starts with showing up.
Let's get to work.
President Barack Obama
Because I follow him on social media, as I do my Governor (who didn't send me a statement despite his victory), representatives (both state and federal) and just about everyone who represents me and my neighbors, I received the above letter -- as millions did -- today.
What is truly remarkable about this letter is not only the brilliance of the message itself, but what it says, or rather doesn't say, about the decline of party politics. It would have been interesting if I had received a letter from other politician who were now my representatives in Madison and Washington D.C. If I had the message would have probably been the same: Those who vote and show up win.
The Republican Party wave, which some are calling it, was attained without any distinguishable party leader stumping for candidates nationwide. In effect, there was no one, single Republican politician that was the sole demigod that speaks for all in the G.O.P. Yet Republicans gained control of the Senate, and solidified their lead in the House of Representatives; all without a representative voice during the month-long (year-long?) campaign that predominated the media airwaves ad nauseam.
Even the Tea Party giants that just a few years ago cascaded upon the electorate and became the darlings of the naysayers were absent from the ruckus of '14. The ones who spoke up, didn't matter any more than regular G.O.P favorites.
And while the new G.O.P. office holders can look back at that lack of support, they must also look to an electorate whom elected them as a different breed, not beholden to "party platform" with an equally differential set of attitudes, quite apart from what the Republican Party stands for -- whatever that is.
The Democrats, on the other hand, failed to make significant inroads in general, and lost big, despite a one-time popular Democratic President in his second-term of office. Although neither did Obama use his bully pulpit to stump for Democratic office seekers either.
In Wisconsin, Democrats failed (once again) to bring out their best candidate to defeat a Governor who had turned against labor and public employees and who had been the first Wisconsin Governor to beat a recall election and who had failed to even come close to bringing the number of jobs he had promised.
All the above may indicate a loss of party politics influencing the electorate. Party politics is even more fickle than individual politicians.Or it just might have indicated that while the Republican victories may have been propelled by a negative (vote against Obama's party; the same (negative vote theory) didn't hold true in a victory against Walker.
Yet voters from both parties sent a clear message to the country: Raise the minimum wage, bring jobs back and fix immigration laws, among them. Between the lines on the ballot throughout the country, there were undercurrents of issues that succeeded in districts and states despite party politics. Which just goes to show, despite the outcome of 2014; voters are identifying with issues more than traditional party stalwarts.
Where this will lead is anyone's guess. But now and in the near future, party chairs (both at a local and national level) might be smart to look to the populace and not to any presumed party leadership.