The people have spoken and President Obama has been re-elected. The House stays in Republican control. The Senate stays in Democrat hands but they are well short of the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture so filibusters are quite likely on any major legislation.
So what happened?
First the purely partisan political observation. It is easy to make the case, and many will, that this election is proof that what Mitt Romney indelicately said in a private meeting of donors might be more true than many will admit. There is a large and growing class of people in this country that are dependent on the government and who carry a strong sense of entitlement, from the government being responsible for "creating jobs" to free Obama-phones. As I have said before conservatives in this country have been winning battles but losing the war for decades. The GOP wins an election here or there but the growth of government and the parallel growth of the dependency class churns forward unabated. I try to never underestimate the extent to which people think that others owe them something. The more people the Left can hand out goodies to, the more built in voters they can count on. Asking hard questions like who is going to pay for all of this, how do we deal with the debt and avoid become Greece writ large are left unasked and unanswered.
Really Republicans have themselves to blame and you can be sure that the circular firing squad blood letting is about to begin in full force. Barack Obama should have been one of the easiest incumbents to defeat since Carter. His policies have been a disaster, the economy is in the toilet, debt is skyrocketing. A decent candidate would have demolished him. However the GOP didn't put up a decent candidate. Instead we had yet another example of the GOP putting up a weak, lowest common denominator candidate
Barack Obama is an ideologue and makes no attempt to hide it. Heck he flaunts it with talk of "revenge"! The same was true of Reagan, a man with convictions who was unafraid to speak passionately and clearly. While I don't like Obama and disagree with him on every conceivable issue I respect that he at least seems to have some convictions, misguided and dangerous though they might be.
To face an ideologue Republicans sent in an empty suit, a man chameleon-like enough to win both the GOP Presidential nomination and the governorship of leftist Massachusetts, a guy who was "pro-choice" and advocated for government health care when governor then had a change of heart when the political winds blew, a man who won primary after primary for no other reason than he was the "most electable". How did that work out? Granted the other choices were not great either. Rick Perry who seemed lost behind a microphone. Serial adulterer Newt Gingrich, a man run out of town in shame the last time he held a leadership position. Rick Santorum who was pretty much a culture warrior and nothing else. Hermann Cain (nuff said).. Tim Pawlenty and Michelle Bachmann who both quit way too early. My choice, Ron Paul, who never stood a chance because he was insufficiently interventionist. Not exactly a who's who of solid candidates which explains why we are about to have four more years of Barack Obama.
What happens next?
I expect to start seeing the initial jockeying for 2016 to start....right about now. Just for fun I "liked" the Rand Paul 2016 page on Facebook this morning but you can be sure that the wheels are already turning: Paul Ryan. Chris Christie (who may have killed his chances with his 24 hour Obama bromance). Marco Rubio. Mitch Daniels. Bobbie Jindal. The list is pretty lengthy and most of them on my initial list off the top of my head are fairly conservative. There are others like Sarah Palin that for some reason people seem to think is qualified to be the leader of the free world that will test the waters. With a country that is heavily divided and both parties getting a fresh shot at the Presidency with no incumbent it is going to get ugly early and often.
I also expect to see a whole lotta nothing happening in the next four years as a result. Nothing on immigration reform. Nothing of debt and deficit reduction. Nothing on common sense reduction in military spending. Not even a whisper about entitlement reform. Campaign 2016 is starting very soon and there are a lot of people on both sides looking to be the nominee for their party. In spite of Obama's contention that he will have more flexibility in his second term, the reality is that he has nowhere near a mandate and faces a hostile majority in the House and an unbreakable filibuster in the Senate, both chambers featuring people who want to run for President in 2016 and will be eager to make their mark. Nothing is going to get done and I would be OK with that if we weren't already $16 trillion in debt. Given how dire the situation is, a lame duck President and a gridlocked Congress doesn't bode well for our future.
What about me?
I am not sure what I am doing politically. The more I think about it the more I see politics as an idol for the American church and that is not getting better any time soon. Like a heroin addict we cannot help but get entangled in politics and we worship our politics like a golden calf. If only we can elect *this guy*, even if that guy is an empty suit and a blasphemer, then we will protect marriage/end abortion/support Israel/etc. The reality that this never actually happens doesn't impede our fantasy just as the girl in the pornographic image is never going to be interested in you. The illusion is the thing and politics is pornography for many Christians but one we can feel noble and self-righteous about.
I am thinking about shutting this page down. The Energion Political Roundtable has been fun and helped me think through some issues but I don't see my political musings being very helpful or edifying for others or myself. Still not sure, perhaps I will just write about issues of the church and politics on my main blog. We'll see.