I think I’ve recognized a pattern in recent politics. One side gets elected on what they feel is a mandate from voters to do the extreme opposite of whatever the other side had done when they were in power. Then, as the new party in power fulfills that mandate by going too far too quickly, the other party gets voted into power in a couple of years. Of course, then that party feels a mandate to swing to the other extreme. It’s pretty ridiculous, and I am having a difficult time seeing how this cycle will end. But now things are being taken to another level altogether.
BothArizonaandWisconsin, two natural swing states whose governing bodies have swung way to the right, are seeing successful recall elections. Some of the leaders being challenged have not even been in office for a year yet. Arizona’s recalls are in response to the controversial immigration law passed last year. Wisconsin’s recall efforts stem from the union showdowns that ended with Governor Scott Walker signing a bill that decimates the bargaining rights of state employees.
Recalls are interesting enough in and of themselves, because they show that the politicians involved may have gotten their mandate wrong. But things even more interesting in Wisconsinbecause of a little political game state Republicans are playing. Six primaries were recently held for Democrats who are challenging Republican incumbents in special elections next week. Guess who they ran against in those primaries? Republicans posing as Democrats. What? Do Republicans not understand the political consequences of losing elections right now? And here they are running in a Democratic primary. Maybe they really have gone off the deep-end.
I don’t think Republicans have any political clue right now. I think they are living in a 2010 dream world in which they took their success to mean that Americans were voting for the extreme Tea Party ideas rather than voting against the overreach of Democrats. As a result, they actually think that holding the line on the debt ceiling and no tax revenue increases is good politics for them. I would assume that those Republicans would say that the fiscal fight isn’t about politics, but I would have to disagree. First of all, if I had a piece of cheesecake for every Republican I have heard establish the primary goal of making Barack Obama a one-term president, I would be deliriously fat and happy. Everything is about 2012 right now, for both parties. Second, you can’t get a deal done in Congress on any issue, let alone spending issues, without playing the political game. Hell, private businesses can’t get deals done without politics. It’s about give and take, and Republicans are failing to give so far, and they’ll pay for it next year.
In the meantime, as much as I think recalls are valuable in normal times, these are not normal times, and I think it will create an even more extreme cycle of not allowing elected officials to feel secure enough in their positions to focus on solving serious issues. I am guessing that Democrats will win some of these elections in Wisconsin and Arizona, and they’ll be voted out in 2012 for being too extreme in favor of Republicans who will be recalled again in 2013 for being too extreme. As much as it is interesting to write about, we just can’t keep going on like this.