An Otherwise Lovely TuesdayNovember 3rd, 2010 © by Susan Swartz
On Tuesday I started making a list of things to be happy about because I feared by the end of the day I would be feeling grumpy and discouraged, possibly near hopeless, remembering the warning by Paul Krugman, that if the elections went according to expectations we should be afraid….be very afraid.
I ran into a guy I know outside our polling place and asked him to tell me something upbeat. He said things could be worse, like those Joe McCarthy years. Somehow that didn’t make me feel better.
Yet, it was a stunning fall day. The air smelled like apples. The vineyards glittered in the sun. I went for a bike ride. The coffee place had blackberry scones.
You can see I was going for the small things because we – I’m speaking liberals, progressives, blue, baby, blue – didn’t start the day feeling good about winning.
It was such a contrast to the night before when our corner of the world had been in Giants heaven. We jumped off the couch and rang cow bells from the porch. That was showing the naysayers, the pundits who said Texas would turn us into barbecue. Let the misfits reign. Let Tim’s hair grow.
But in less than 24 hours Nancy Pelosi, another San Francisco icon, or demon, depending on your point of view, had lost her speaker’s gavel.
We had been warned. There would be a bloodbath, a torrent of opposition against incumbents, a tough day for liberals, a drubbing for Democrats.
I looked at the New Yorker cover I framed two Novembers ago – the one with the blue door at the end of the red tunnel. It hangs above the TV where by early Tuesday evening CNN was getting out the red crayons and re-coloring the USA map. And over on MSNBC Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania was telling Rachel Maddow “I feel your pain.”
Things started to feel a little bit better when that hateful candidate in New York was silenced and some of the Tea Party dream queens succumbed. Unskilled, pop-up media celebrity candidates weren’t going to take all. I began to feel warm fuzzies for Harry Reid.
I worried though for my new phone pals in Wisconsin. One morning 20 of us gathered in a house in Sebastopol and called 1200 Democrats in a small town near Milwaukee to get out the vote for Sen. Russ Feingold. One woman told me she was feeling the chill from her neighbors, hers the only Democrat sign in a nine mile stretch thick with Republican signs. Her guy lost Tuesday to a man who made money in plastics, vows to repeal health care and doesn’t believe in climate change.
We’ll be analyzing this for a long time. Was it really all about the economy? Did fear win? Did nasty campaigning? Are we ever going to find out what undisclosed special interest money really paid for those attack ads?
But as for calling Tuesday’s elections a coast to coast red sweep, I think some parts of this coast actually saw some blue sky when all was counted.
California voted to stay enlightened on the environment and stood up to Big Oil. Voters dumped proposition 23 which would have set back the state’s plan for dealing with global warming. Barbara Boxer fought off Palin-picking Carly Fiorina. Jerry Brown who believes in renewable energy and schools and is the poster boy for encore careers beamed himself back to Sacramento. Meg Whitman’s $160 million wasn’t enough to buy this election.
I asked a friend for more things to feel good about. He thought for a minute and said, “Grandkids. And the Chilean miners getting rescued. I still feel good thinking about them.”