The 2010 Elections and Democratic-Republican Bipolar Disorder

The 112th Congress will begin with a Democratic majority in the Senate and a Republican majority in the House.  This will be the second time the corporate parties have exchanged majority control of the House in the last five years.  While many Democrats were naive enough to believe, or cynical enough to pretend, that their victories in 2006 and 2008 were the result of something other than a simple rejection of undivided Republican Party government, this year the GOP is all-too-aware that their victory was ensured by voters’ rejection of undivided Democratic Party government.  The Hill quoted John McCain admitting as much earlier this week:

The 2010 election results should not be interpreted as an “affirmation” of Republicans, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday. . . . “The moral of this story is that this election is a repudiation of Obama and the Democrats,” McCain said on Fox News. “It is not an affirmation of Republicans. So Republicans have got to come through and satisfy this outcry — this anger and frustration — that’s been expressed.”

Republican-friendly pollster Scott Rasmussen made much the same point in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal on Monday, in which he argues that these quickly shifting majorities express a fundamental rejection of both ruling parties:

tomorrow Republicans will send more Republicans to Congress than at any time in the past 80 years . . . This isn’t a wave, it’s a tidal shift—and we’ve seen it coming for a long time. . . . But none of this means that Republicans are winning. The reality is that voters in 2010 are doing the same thing they did in 2006 and 2008: They are voting against the party in power. . . . This reflects a fundamental rejection of both political parties.

A new poll from Rasmussen indicates that the American public does not expect to be adequately represented by the new governing majority:

Most voters expected Republicans to win control of the House of Representatives on Election Day, but nearly as many expect to be disappointed with how they perform by the time the 2012 elections roll around.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds, in fact, that 59% of Likely U.S. Voters think it is at least somewhat likely that most voters will be disappointed with Republicans in Congress before the next national elections. That includes 38% who say it is Very Likely.

These quickly shifting majorities indicate the fundamental inability of the Democratic and Republican parties to adequately represent the interests of the people of the United States.  Trapped by the bipolar logic of the two-party state, the only way for voters to express their discontent with the current Democratic majority was to cast their ballots for a party they favor even less.  As CNN reported yesterday:

Democrats have a 10-point favorability gap: 43 percent of voters have a positive opinion of the party, while 53 percent aren’t thrilled. The Republican Party also gets a thumbs-down from 53 percent of the nation’s voters, with just 41 percent saying they’re happy with the party.

Compare that with 1994 and 2006, when voters had a net positive view of the incoming party. The numbers suggest Tuesday night may signal a rejection of the Democratic Party — but something less than an embrace of the GOP.

The American electorate clearly suffers from a form of political bipolar disorder, in which incidents of manic political enthusiasm alternate with lengthy depressive episodes.  The seriousness of the illness is all-too-clear from the fact that we have entered a lengthy stage of so-called rapid cycling, in which manic periods alternate ever more quickly with depressive episodes.  Following this week’s elections, Democrats are likely to enter a depressive state:

Signs and symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder include persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, isolation, or hopelessness; disturbances in sleep and appetite; fatigue and loss of interest in usually enjoyable activities; problems concentrating; loneliness, self-loathing, apathy or indifference; depersonalization; loss of interest in sexual activity; shyness or social anxiety; irritability, chronic pain (with or without a known cause); lack of motivation; and morbid suicidal ideation.

Republicans, on the other hand, will likely be found exhibiting signs and symptoms of mania:

Mania is generally characterized by a distinct period of an elevated, expansive, or irritable mood state. People commonly experience an increase in energy and a decreased need for sleep. A person’s speech may be pressured, with thoughts experienced as racing. Attention span is low, and a person in a manic state may be easily distracted. Judgment may become impaired, and sufferers may go on spending sprees or engage in behavior that is quite abnormal for them. They may indulge in substance abuse, particularly alcohol or other depressants, cocaine or other stimulants, or sleeping pills. Their behavior may become aggressive, intolerant, or intrusive. People may feel out of control or unstoppable. People may feel they have been “chosen” and are “on a special mission” or have other grandiose or delusional ideas. Sexual drive may increase.

If you are someone you know exhibits any of the above symptoms, contact a political professional immediately for appropriate doses of partisan spin and propaganda.  Of course, this does nothing but mask the symptoms of the illness.  Political independence may be the only viable, long-term treatment for Democrat-Republican bipolar disorder.

Cross-posted from Poli-Tea.

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