While I was quite happy to attend John Yarmuth's election (and victory) party on Tuesday evening, and while it is encouraging to see such local progress reflected in the nationwide tide of Democratic victories, there are still a few things about this week's election results that are troubling to me.
For instance, Bob Corker defeated the Democratic candidate Harold Ford, Jr. in the Tennessee Senate race. Shame on the non (or disgruntled) Republicans in that state who didn't turn out to vote for Ford. But what is more upsetting is that so many people would vote for Corker, considering that he is known to have been involved in shady land deals where protected wetlands were sold to Wal*Mart. Yes, Wal*Mart. How anybody could vote for somebody who would sell such an important natural resource, to Wal*Mart, is beyond me. Furthermore, Corker is known to be willfully ignorant in the face of the scientific evidence regarding global warming. That such a candidate didn't result in an additional victory for Democrats is astonishing.
Also, it is startling that John Shimkus so easily defeated the Democratic candidate Dan Stover in the Illinois Congress race. Again, any Democrat voters who stayed at home on Tuesday should be ashamed. But it is surprising that Shimkus won by such a wide margin, when it is known that he kept his fellow Page Board members in the dark concerning his knowledge of Foley's impropriety, back in late 2005. At best, such behavior is extremely suspicious, and I wouldn't have anticipated so many people voting for Shimkus in spite of it.
I find both of these instances troubling, but it's obvious that we are blind to the local circumstances, issues, and campaign advertising (except for that smutty, racist anti-Harold Ford attack ad), and their effects on the outcome.
However, the import of both of these examples is exceeded by other voting results, not for candidates, but for initiatives. In seven out of the eight states where such an issue was on the ballot, people voted to ban same-sex marriage. While the new Democrat majorities in both Houses of Congress is surely cause for celebration, such a victory is quickly tempered when we consider the passage of these marriage bans. It may be true that people across the country have voted in favor of fiscal responsibility, scientific integrity, accountable governing, and sensible foreign policy. But the sobering reality is that many people are also voting in favor of bigotry and religious discrimination.
Progressives and moderates will do well not to take too much solace in the congressional switch-over, knowing that there are still very important issues requiring serious attention and diligent effort in the years to come.