Democracy Blues... err... Reds?
Two steps forward one step back, I guess.
These midterm elections were a bummer, man. A total bummer. Legalized weed and Russ Feingold (the only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act) both lost, and Oregon may have elected a know-nothing Basketball playing Republican governor over a Doctor who went to my High School (though maybe not; update: PDX FTW!). In any case, bad times.
The only silver lining is we discovered that cash ain't everything: Meg Whitman spent over $160M of her dirty ebay money and lost (by a huge amount) to Jerry Brown.
But the boup-de-grace: the new speaker of the house is a fake-tan-man named "Boehner." And don't let him tell you it's pronounced "bay-ner" or any face-saving nonsense like that. His name is Boner. Many of the "teabaggers" (e.g. Sharon Angle, Christine O'Donnel) didn't make it, but many of them did, and the rumblings from House backbenchers has contained the words "subponea power" more than a few times. That's certainly easier (and better TV) than trying to fix our problems.
I guess the crystalizes the most frustrating (if not entirely unexpected) thing about the wave President Obama brought in: it wasn't really very ambitious in its substance, and it was also brought by a confluence of factors that are unlikely to hold for long. Narrow window plus low target means not much impact. Para Krugman:
What actually happened, of course, was that Obama failed to do enough to boost the economy, plus totally failing to tap into populist outrage at Wall Street. And now we’re in the trap I worried about from the beginning: by failing to do enough when he had political capital, he lost that capital, and now we’re stuck.
It's pretty unlikely that Obama will enjoy a "trifecta" at any other point in his administration, even if he's lucky enough to take a second term. With his establishment bias and fierceness about compromise, that could spell an end to his substantive achievements from the progressive side of things. But, according to his own words he's done all he can, so c'est la vie I guess.