Thoughts on the 2010 Election

I’m going to add to this later, but I have to say something about the election results! So here goes with a few bullet points:

  • The Tea Party had successes, but was a net loss for the Republicans. Hypotheticals are always uncertain, but it seems likely that the Republicans would have won the Senate elections in Delaware, Nevada, and West Virginia if the Tea Party candidates had not won the Republican nomination. That would have been a Republican majority.
  • Today’s Washington Post cites unspecified exit polls as finding that 23% of voters said that they were voting for the Tea Party while 18% said that they were voting against it.  That sizable left is not doing nearly as good a job at making itself heard.
  • The Right claims a victory when it ousts a moderate Republican, even if it means the Democrats win the election. By the same token, if to a lesser extent, the Left should consider the defeat of Blanche Lincoln a victory. True, she did win the primary, and true, she may well have lost anyway – but they did weaken her.
  • The underlying point of all this is that progressives need to move away from President Obama and start working for what they believe in in every election.

As I said, more later!

I expanded (briefly) on this analysis as part of the Presidents’ Roundtable at the Northeastern Political Science Association conference, Friday, November 12, at 3:45 PM in the Parker House. For a podcast of my remarks, see

November 10, 2010: See “Did the Tea Party Cost Republicans the Senate?” in Chris Cillizza’s Washington Post blog, “The Fix.”

The Crisis of American Politics

Here’s the question I’m working on right now: given the collapse of the US economy a couple of years ago, why aren’t masses of people coming to the obvious conclusion that the capitalist economic system is unsustainable? Instead, we get the Tea Party demanding that the state regulate capitalism even less.

Here are some possible answers:

1. People are coming to that conclusion, but the media aren’t telling us about it. (E.g., the Tea Party convention got tons of coverage, the US Social Forum gathering in Detroit, which was much bigger, got almost none).

2. The collapse of the Soviet bloc has made the Left stop talking about socialism; as a result, hardly anyone even knows what socialism is — so that, for example, the government bailout of the big banks is perceived by many (especially, again, the Tea Party) as a “socialist” measure — because it involved the government. If people understood socialism as control of the state by the working class, they would see that this is just the opposite — control by the biggest capitalists.

Probably there are other answers as well — I will be looking for them (and at them) in the book I am writing now, working title: Minor Parties and the Crisis of the American Party System.