McDonnell takes Virginia. Christie take New Jersey. Maine denies gays their civil rights. Bloomberg—an Independent—bullied his way into a third term that didn't exist until he had the rules changed. Across the political landscape, the GOP had a pretty big night.
In all these instances, Independents swung the vote. Were these the same Independents that helped President Obama get elected? Probably. So what do we make of this recent development?
In the case of Mike Bloomberg, he was the uncharismatic billionaire people already knew up against an uncharismatic unknown. Bill Thompson put up an extremely respectable showing—due, in some respects, to Bloomberg pulling an Idi Amin regarding term limits—but Bloomberg just outproduced him. He spent $33M on TV ads alone. Thompson? $2.6M.
Virginia and, to a lesser degree, New Jersey, may very well be responses to the White House. Is this a response to Obama doing too much or too little in his first months as President? Either answer could be offered up.
Maine put civil rights up for a vote and said 'nay.' Why civil rights was brought to a hand-raising vote is anyone's guess.
Lots of questions and conjecture swirl around these races and others. What The Buzz is certain about is that the GOP have played these times since the inauguration beautifully. Seriously.
They were gracious for a few months while people reveled in the moment, then when the sparkles had worn off a bit, they went to work protecting their agenda and interests in whatever way they saw fit. They played bare-knuckle politics and let their hatchetmen and women go to work. And now, one year later, they—the political minority—have all the momentum going into 2010.
Fact: Barack Obama has gotten plenty of things wrong in his first few months. But not everything. In fact, he's done a few things right and gotten a few things done. But you wouldn't know it. Despite a Democratic White House and majorities in the House and Senate, the GOP—and its supporters—are still framing and controlling the debate. Why? Because they don't concern themselves with "fighting fair"; they understand that, in politics, "fair" is whoever says it first and loudest.
This isn't a matter of beliefs. It's downright foolish to assert that conservatives never have any good ideas about anything and that the left can do no wrong. Just dumb. This is not about beliefs; however, it is about approach. It is about how one side delivered its message. And like it or not, the GOP got this right again.
It's like a Michael Bay film: Maybe the dialogue isn't the strongest, but it's pro-America and a lot of things are blowing up in a delightfully appealing way.
They silenced the conservatives that weren't all the way on board. They stoked the flames of fear and divisiveness and did little to put them out. And why would they? However ugly, they furthered their agenda. Democrats, meanwhile, stood there and tried to reason with a mob mentality.
Not wanting to go the right wing "level", they allowed themselves to get outshouted. Again.