COLUMN: Midterm Review

Harry Caines contributes a weekly column to His column is a work of opinion, and does not reflect the views of Cache Valley Daily, the Cache Valley Media Group, or its employees.

We no longer care about mandates in political elections. The trendy word is wave. And while I did enjoy the coverage provided by both CNN and Fox News on Tuesday night, the overabundance of commentators on both networks fed the need to debate the trite point as to whether the 2014 Midterm elections constituted a wave.

Here is my take on it: The Republicans won big.

And since no large-scale election is complete until the pontificators share their sagacious musings with the fatigued masses, here is what I see coming out of Tuesday night.

—Come January, the GOP will hold the governor’s chair in the big five midwest states: Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. On Tuesday, all but Indiana held governor’s races. Illinois was turned over to the Republicans while the other three were maintained by the GOP in a fairly easy fashion.

The days of the midwestern blue-collar manufacturing giants are long dead. And the Midwest is not the Electoral College behemoth it once was. But five governors will be seen hand in hand with the GOP candidate for president in 2016. And when you add to that the fact that Illinois turned over two of its seats in the U.S. Congress from the Democrats to the GOP on Tuesday, you must raise an eyebrow and ask what the Democrats will run on two years from now in that region of the country.

— There was one anomaly amongst the governor’s races Tuesday. My home state of Pennsylvania ousted its GOP governor, Tom Corbett in favor of businessman Tom Wolf. Wolf was an impressive candidate. Educated at both Dartmouth and M.I.T., he defied his wealthy lineage by serving in the Peace Corps.

But aside from that, Corbett wiped himself out of the national Republican wave by doing something that will brand you with the hashtag #worsethanhitler in the Keystone state. He cut education funding. He raised the ire of both the Democratic pit bull teacher’s unions and the Republican-leaning Philadelphia suburbs—where all presidential candidates run to every four years to test the pulse of the nation.

— Vote-by-mail sucks. As that is firmly established, allow me to thank Cache County for allowing me and others the availability to vote on Election Day.

Why must everything be easier? I understand that mail-in voting saves money and allows more people the chance to vote; but, really, is it that hard for most of us to take a lunch hour so as to have our voices heard?

I am sentimental about voting. I like the feeling of going to the poll and giving my full name. I like staring at the ballot. It is a small thing for all of us to plan ahead to make sure we vote. What fun is there voting by mail? You drop off a ballot two weeks before Election Day and then do nothing. Blah! I hope Cache County continues to allow in-person voting in future years.

— Tell me again how big a favorite Hillary Clinton is to become president in 2016.

Along with husband Bill, Hillary went around the country stumping for Democratic candidates in key battleground states. The outcome of these appearances can be summed up in three words:

Kiss of death.

In nearly every race–including the birth states for the Clintons, Illinois and Arkansas–the Democrats not only lost, but saw their numbers go down in the last 48 hours.

Hillary has more baggage than O’Hare airport. She was Secretary of State during a time when the world started to fall into its current state of mayhem. And when she was the favorite to win eight years ago, she lost to a community organizer whose only palpable offering to voters were sugary platitudes.

Hillary has won one campaign in her life. She comes off cold. She has a spotty track record in foreign affairs. She has been in the spotlight for a quarter of a century. If that is a favorite then allow me to put every penny I have on underdogs.

— Oregon legalized recreational pot use. I bet most Oregonians were shocked to find out that it was illegal. That makes another western state that offers indulgences tourists tend to look for that Utah would deny them. The old “we got great snow” argument might not be enough.

— As I stated above, I flipped between CNN and Fox News most of the night. There was almost no mention of any key Congressional races on either channel. Every political junkie knew the GOP would hold the House and pick up seats doing it. Still, there were some races they could have covered. 500 talking heads and not one of them could talk about the House races? Shameful.

— Al Franken won re-election to the U.S. Senate from Minnesota. Great! Now I have to wait another six years for the sequel to “Stuart Smalley Saves His Family”.

— Some people may find it ironic that Utah is the state that elected the first Black female Republican to the Congress. I am not one of those people. The Democrats have a long history of concentrating on races where women and/or minorities for the GOP have a chance to win.

Kinda hard to claim that Republicans are inherently misogynist and racists if they elect non-white guys. It is one of the most under-reported and obscene political realities that exists today. Thankfully, Mia Love and South Carolina U.S. Senator Tim Scott, who Tuesday became the first black man to win a senate election from the old Confederacy since Reconstruction, were untouchable to this unfortunate political chicanery.

— Finally, Utah has two years to find a candidate–Republican, Democrat or whatever– that can defeat Senator Mike Lee in 2016. Lee is an embarrassment to Utah. While the rest of the Republicans in America shoved Tea Party fanatics back into their cave this year (And won. Correlation?), Utah embraces the fanaticism and churlishness that Lee spews nearly everytime he gets near a microphone.

Mike Lee is a right wing buffoon. And if he is not removed from office by the voters of Utah, than we deserve every joke lobbed at us. You can be socially conservative and likeable. Cory Gardner in Colorado and Joni Ernst in Iowa proved that on Tuesday.

On Twitter, I jokingly asked former Logan mayor Doug Thompson to run against Lee. He cheekily declined. But how many other respected politicians will swiftly remove themselves from consideration in 2016 because they believe that Mike Lee is unbeatable?

We deserve better. Or do we?

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