The Election of Rage: Republicans Deal Heavy Blow to Obama

By in New York

America is demoralized, divided and angry. This mood has propelled the Republicans to victory in the House of Representatives, fueled by the support of the rightwing Tea Party movement. Now they'll have to prove they have more to say than just "no".

Rand Paul's election victory is demonstrative of what is happening to America: Only two years after Obama's hopeful victory, the nation is demoralized, divided and angry. Zoom
AFP

Rand Paul's election victory is demonstrative of what is happening to America: Only two years after Obama's hopeful victory, the nation is demoralized, divided and angry.

The very first result, the first victory, set a precedent for the rest of the night. Late in the evening in the state of Kentucky on Tuesday, Tea Party darling and soon-to-be Senator Rand Paul took to the stage cheered on by his fans. "I have a message," he exclaimed. "A message that is loud and clear: We've come to take our government back!" The crowd went wild.

Paul, 47, is an opthamologist. This is his very first foray into the world of politics. The son of the quirky former presidential candidate Ron Paul refers to America as "exceptional" and to himself as a "constitutional conservative." He has strange views about race, opposes abortion, doesn't trust the Federal Reserve Bank, hates deficits, promotes gun ownership, wants to keep the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in operation and to do away with the US Department of Education.

And now he wants to lead the Tea Party faction within the Republican Party in the US Senate. It will be the first of its kind in history.

Photo Gallery

22  Photos
Photo Gallery: The Triumph of the Republicans
It was Paul's followers who in October threw a Democratic activist to the ground and trampled on her head. She sustained a concussion as a result. Paul expressed regret for the incident, only to trivialize it later, attributing it to "passion" on both sides.

Paul's election victory is demonstrative of what is happening in America. Only two years after Barack Obama's hopeful victory, the nation is demoralized, divided and angry. Now the angriest have cried out and have wrangled themselves a place at the table of power. The congressional election of 2010 will go down in history as the election of rage.

As expected, the Republicans -- the big losers of 2008 -- swept the board in probably the most contested midterm election in generations. They regained the majority in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, the Democrats got off relatively lightly, retaining a slim majority.

Prominent Tea Party favorites pulled through in places all across the country. Marc Rubio in Florida. Dan Coats in Indiana. Nikki Haley in South Carolina.

All of them were quick to use big words. They spoke of "the hand of God," of "revenge" for Washington, of the new power of the common man. "The people have spoken!" cried Kelly Ayotte, a protegé of Tea Party patron Sarah Palin and the newly appointed Senator for New Hampshire.

Incumbents Lose Power En Masse

This is first and foremost Barack Obama's punishment. A majority of Americans saw the election as a referendum on the president, and as a protest against the escalating national debt and mega-billion rescue package for the economy. That's why some Democrats like Bobby Bright in Alabama and Gene Taylor in Mississippi were quick to distance themselves from the president. Both men lost their seats anyway.

Others availed themselves of the Obama's campaign assistance -- and were also defeated. Take for example Blanche Lincoln, the long-serving senator from Arkansas: The moderate Democrat had reluctantly brought herself to support Obama's healthcare reform and was beaten hands down during the election by Congressman John Boozman, an avowed opponent of the reforms.

The Republicans knew precisely how to focus voter anger against Obama. The stated aim of Sen. Mitch McConnell, the chief Republican in the Senate, is to "make Obama a one-term president."

"We've tried it Obama's way," said John Boehner, the former House minority leader and soon to be Speaker of the House. "We've tried it Washington's way. It hasn't worked. It's time to put the people back in charge." That Boehner himself has sat in Congress -- the epitome of the hated Washington establishment -- for the past 20 years, is just one of the many paradoxes in this election.

Another is that this was an election in which voters registered a knee-jerk reaction to the economic crisis and high unemployment, and they have helped to bring about a renaissance for the very party which presided over the crash at the end of 2008.

The Americans are unsentimental about such things. Obama just inherited the recession, but the consequences have long been his own problem. For leaders, that can be fatal -- especially in a society where political patience doesn't count among its current virtues.

It has long since been forgotten that Obama averted the collapse of the entire financial industry. Many Americans no longer remember why Wall Street was helped out in the first place. Then came the controversy over healthcare reform, with which Obama sealed the fate of his friends in the party.

And so there's a long list of Democrats whose careers came to an end Tuesday night. Tom Perriello of Virginia, who made a campaign appearance last week in support of Obama. John Spratt of South Carolina, who has served in Congress since 1983. Jim Marshall of Georgia -- who lost despite decisive attempts to distance himself from Nancy Pelosi, the now deposed Speaker of the House. Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, who since 1993 has been one of the most independent minds in the Senate.

Lessons from California

But there were also isolated gleams of hope for the Democrats. In Connecticut, Dick Blumenthal, state attorney general since 1991, beat wrestling-queen Linda McMahon. In New York, voters re-elected Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, while Andrew Cuomo defeated Tea Party candidate Carl Paladino to secure the governorship, once held by his father.

Barney Frank managed to hang on in Massachusetts, but lost his powerful position as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. In Ohio, governor Ted Strickland also held his ground, albeit with difficulty. In a symbolic victory, Obama rushed to his side on Sunday to help with the campaign.

In California, the Democrats celebrated a double victory. Senator Barbara Boxer survived and helped her party maintain its majority in the Senate. Jerry Brown, who served as governor from 1975 to 1983, was once again re-elected to the post. Both defeated millionaire opponents from the business world: Carly Fiorina, the former head of Hewlett-Packard, and Meg Whitman, the former head of eBay. Whitman spent $175 million out of her own pocket on her campaign. The moral: Money only doesn't guarantee victory.

In Nevada, in one of the most exciting races of the night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid headed off Tea Party challenger Sharron Angle. The 61-year-old Demorat had distinguished himself during the election campaign with crude remarks, which some people claimed were racist.

Still, the night belonged to the Tea Party. Still ridiculed, scorned and unappreciated only a year ago, the loose movement had backed more than 130 candidates on the ballots. Dozens have now managed the leap into Congress.

These dissidents have turned out to be more powerful than even the Republicans had expected. Above all, this election proves that the Tea Party is more than a conspiracy of madmen, clowns, racists, gun nuts and homophobes.

Of course, all of these traits have been picked over in the campaign and have made many headlines. And the worst slapstick candidates lost: Christine O'Donnell in Delaware ("I'm not a witch") was defeated, as was Angle in Nevada and McMahon in Connecticut.

Instead, alongside novices like Rand Paul, a number of relatively established politicians are now moving to Washington under the banner of the Tea Party. Dan Coats has already spent a term as a senator and was later appointed US ambassador to Berlin. Todd Rokita is secretary of state of Indiana. Mark Kirk, who secured Obama's old Senate seat in Illinois, has served for 10 years already in the House of Representatives and Marco Rubio has been in the Florida House of Representatives since 2000. These are no amateurs.

They must now show that they have more to say than "no." Anger can win elections, but it can't govern a country.

Article...
  • For reasons of data protection and privacy, your IP address will only be stored if you are a registered user of Facebook and you are currently logged in to the service. For more detailed information, please click on the "i" symbol.
  • Post to other social networks

Comments
Discuss this issue with other readers!
4 total posts
Show all comments
    Page 1    
1.
BTraven 11/04/2010
It was said yesterday it had been the biggest landslide for a party having the majority in 60 years. Such news will only increase the self-confidence of Reps further. And they have already too much of it. Poor Obama. I think it would be wrong to hope that the horrible job members of Tea Party will probably do in both chambers of parliament will disillusion those who voted for them. It’s a fanatical bunch.
2.
bobboogie2007 11/05/2010
Obama campained as something he wasn't, a moderate who would bring an end to partisanship. Thats what people voted for, that kind of change. Once in office Obama because a highly partisan far left liberal who pushed his own agenda even though thats not what the people voted for. The 'Tea party' movement is based on the Boston Tea Party, and the phrase 'taxation without representation.' The idea being, Obama spent our taxes on something the majority of the people said they didn't want. We do not elect a dictator, which is why you see the backlash.
3. Aye to that
verbatim128 11/08/2010
Zitat von sysopAmerica is demoralized, divided and angry. This mood has propelled the Republicans to victory in the House of Representatives. Right-wing Tea Party dissidents are now moving into Congress by the dozens. Now they'll have to prove they have more to say than just "no". http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,726980,00.html
But the same can be said, after two years, about "change" and "hope" and all the other demagoguery that propelled the other party to victory in 2008. And, of course, we must remember that the Democrats did not say 'no' too many times before that, when they ought to have done so. There is something intrinsically wrong with democracy and government: A perennial experiment with recycling of its corrupt elite by the ignorant electorate, so that the people can exercise their right to elect the elite who exercises the power, our brand of democracy can do little more than periodically un-elect the worst corrupted. Sadly, the leeches must get their fill of blood before falling off the electoral body. And make all the tragic mistakes they hope for history to set straight by a different perspective some fifty years later. The only thing that's changed is how "panem et circenses" works. The Romans provided for means of life and entertainment, something the plebes consumed for their benefit, bread and circuses kept them appeased. Contemporary plebes only get the entertainment, voting alone seems to appease them; ahh, the pleasure of speaking out for a few years before and then un-elect the rascals and forget about the issues until next time... that's good entertainment, that's power, that tastes sooo good!
4. Serbia
esperonto 11/08/2010
The only thing like the Southern Disease I ever caught was the Serbian-Romanian mentality. Thats my response to foreigners pretending to be cowboys. I find myself taking side with Serbians and Romanians, and especially hate Clinton for bombing Serbia. Please think twice on Democrats. Only look at this Research on Globalization article (they always have good articles): http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=12883 Every major war has been started by a Democrat, including Vietnam. I would not vote for Republican either. Republicans make secret wars. They don't start open wars. For a Republican, arming contras is the way they make war. They are conservatives after all, and generally don't make war but in secret, Bush being exceptional. Republicans make business wars in private, funding illegal armies that fight and kill for Coke a Cola or Chiquita. Those are the wars that the Democrats draw attention away from. They are killing many thousands. If Republicans take over a war that Democrats started, they will begin doing secret illegal things like in Vietnam, with Kissinger ordering illicit bombings and coup in Chile. Democrats also lie though, like with Brzezinski fabricating a lie about Russia invading and needing to train mujahideen. In fact they trained the mujahideen first, before Russian action, in a direct attempt to push Russia into a Vietnam situation. So Democrats lie also and break laws, such as Clinton allowing arms running and Mujahideen to fight against Serbs in Yugoslavia. Thus, we can suppose that neither Democrats nor Republicans will serve the American people and that they will all lie. Consequently, from the current economic crisis in the USA, we can also suppose they are not protecting American way of life either! So, for all this secret military activity that they think is for our "own good that we dont know", it isn't actually making life better but worse.
Show all comments
    Page 1    
Keep track of the news

Stay informed with our free news services:

All news from SPIEGEL International
Twitter | RSS
All news from World section
RSS

© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2010
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH




European Partners
Presseurop

Politiken

Corriere della Sera

Anti-Europe Fever

Early Election


Facebook
Twitter