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Thinking Through the Elections

November 3, 2010

Final results are still coming in from the mid-term election November 2. Whether you are celebrating the return of a favorite legislator, bemoaning the defeat of a long-time ally, or somewhere in between, we can all take comfort in the fact that people in this country get to choose who represents them in Congress.

FCNL is a nonpartisan organization and we don’t align ourselves with individuals or parties. We do recognize that many you will have strong feelings about the results of this election. We will all be thinking about the results and what do they mean for our work in the next few weeks. If you’re coming to Annual Meeting, David Culp and I will be talking about what the results of the mid-term election mean for FCNL during the Thursday evening program.

One of the many things I appreciate about FCNL is that we find a way to start a conversation with whomever the voters send to Washington. That may be easier or harder on any given issue depending on the legislator, but in my experience it often leads to surprises and new openings.

My own view is that a lot of work needs to be done in Washington right now. Perhaps, a Congress where Republicans and Democrats have to work together more closely to accomplish anything may be a Congress that accomplishes more. As I think about what we’ve been doing in the last two years, a lot of our work has been trying to build bipartisan coalitions on New START, on the CLEAR Act, and on the effort to cut the Pentagon budget.

What do you think?

19 Comments
  1. Ellen N. Duell permalink
    November 3, 2010 1:30 pm

    I think that cutting the military (“Pentagon”) budget is paramount. Present military personnel, especially those who have been driven to “join up” because no employment was available otherwise, might be turned into a peace corps.

    There’s plenty of work to be done in our world. Right now we are paying for a huge military organization. I suggest that we keep it except that we should take out the hierarchical structure–make all equal, so nobody is taking “orders” from “higher-ups”, but cooperation rather than command is the mode. The president should not be “commander in chief”, only “president”.

  2. November 3, 2010 3:34 pm

    Aren’t you going to tell us who remained (Dems( in the Senate (NJ)? PLEASE!!!

  3. November 3, 2010 3:44 pm

    This election will most likely create a huge gridlock in the congress, and very little will be accomplished. The Bush administration did exactly what the Harding/Hoover administration did to cause the Great Depression, and the current Republicans refuse to heed Pres. Eisenhower’s warning about what the Military Industrial Complex would do to the country. What we are seeing now is because of both these occurances..

  4. Michael Mack permalink
    November 3, 2010 3:45 pm

    I’m a political independent. I gave up on the 2 party system a while back because each major political has demonstrated over and over again that its primary concern is itself – not the constituents. The DNC has lacked a spine for quite a while, and the RNC is all about money and keeping it -this has left the constituents the “lesser of two evils” choice between either gutlessness and cluelessness or selfishness and greed at any cost – no wonder the nation as a whole has become such a mess and a political breeding ground for quacks like Palin and O’Donnell. These two clowns and those like them would never had emerged if the incompetencies of both the DNC and RNC had not set the stage for them.

    I’m pleased with this election result because it serves notice to both major parties that the public is not pleased with the ways the major parties have been doing things, and that unless the major political parties truly change and start really hearing average citizens – the days of the major political parties as major players are numbered.

  5. Zulema Seligsohn permalink
    November 3, 2010 3:49 pm

    Some time during the the later morning election results and commentary on NBC, which by the way was extremely thoughtful, someone mentioned that as to war policy changes, John McCain, newly returned to the Senate from Arizona, intends to introduce a bill to stop Pres. Obama’s planned withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan

  6. Jim permalink
    November 3, 2010 4:06 pm

    I see two obstacles, which get worse every year. (1) The dominance of money in politics and (2) the failure to require that no one get through school without understanding what government is all about.

    A government should not be run as a business, as many candidates are saying these days. There are many things that only government should do and people need to understand that the only way this happens is through taxes and fees.

    The elephant in the room which no one wants to discuss, of course, is the “so called” defence spending – coupled with a ridiculous notion of patriotism which says the America is first and will always be first – ignoring the signs that the rest of the world is catching up and surpassing us in the things that really matter.

  7. eve malo permalink
    November 3, 2010 7:19 pm

    What a shame that Russ Feingold was defeated==a true progressive voice in Congress, one for human rights and social justice issues. What were the voters thinking? en paz

  8. Ralph E. Manon permalink
    November 3, 2010 7:45 pm

    I understand there was a sign reading; “VOTE YOUR INSIDE VOICE,” at the Rally for Sanity and or Fear, 10/29/2010 in D.C. Apparently most of us in the nation did not do this! I am still confident that, down the road, peace and prosperity will prevail because of the FCNL team and the many other liberal, progressive organizations in our nation!

    Thank you.

    Gene Manon
    Hagerstown, MD 21740

  9. Elsa Sabath permalink
    November 3, 2010 8:27 pm

    “One of the many things I appreciate about FCNL is that we find a way to start a conversation with whomever the voters send to Washington.…”

    I just sent Jim’s words to a friend as the best comfort i know when more nails have just been driven into the country’s—and earth’s— ability to sustain us.

    Thanks, Jim.

    I’d like to see Meetings across the nation offer communities awareness of publicconversations.org and similar programs, so people see options and have role models other than adversarial sabotage and predation in public life.

  10. Kent Price permalink
    November 3, 2010 8:30 pm

    My Senator, Susan Collins, is co-sponsor of the CLEAR Act, but she hardly ever mentions it, as far as I can tell, either in DC or here in Maine. Is she luke warm on her own bill? Will the line up in the new Congress help or hurt consideration of CLEAR? What do you see regarding this or any other chance actually to do anything about climate change in this toxic atmosphere?

  11. sandy osawa permalink
    November 3, 2010 8:39 pm

    The announced goal of the R’s, even before they took the house, was that their major goal and main priority was to defeat Obama in 2012. NOT create jobs, or any of the important issues facing us! I feel the media did a poor job really “reporting” the news. It was always “congress is blocked or congress failed to pass…”Very seldom did I ever hear (except from Rachel Maddow) that all the republicans and two southern democrats are against this or that so people in TV land or la-la-land never really understood that there was one major party saying NO to everything. This is just a fact and should have been reported. I think FCNL should do more outreach to the general public because a misinformed and ignorant public is not healthy and produces strange and rather scary public servants.I’ve never seen so many candidates with such a lack of basic knowledge and lack of interest in the public interest or in us. Follow the big money as even now the Koch Brothers are celebrating& REPORT, REPORT!

  12. mary frances baugh permalink
    November 3, 2010 9:20 pm

    Pennsylvania has gone over to the dark side. I am horrified that Sestak lost, Dahlkemper lost and Onorato lost. It seems that rather than those who would serve the people, Pennsylvania voters have elected those who will obstruct and say NO to everything> I am dismayed. Mary Frances Baugh

  13. Reta Richardson permalink
    November 3, 2010 9:35 pm

    As yesterday’s election results were being reported early last night, PBS was broadcasting Frontline’s report on the past year’s Healthcare/Insurance Reform(?) drama in Washington. The juxtaposition was quite revealing to viewers who would love to see bipartisan cooperation on behalf of US citizens whose lives are so affected by what our leaders do and don’t do. The great obstructions that were maliciously devised by many of our elected representatives in both houses and their patron corporations and lobbyists who fund their elections were cruel. Not only did many people in power conspire to assure that the Healthcare and Health Insurance reforms would fail–and be President Obama’s Waterloo–they rejoice over their success although they know they are hurting innocent people and exacerbating the national debt. Their display of grim hurtful politics, as well as the USA’s never-ending military presence all over the world and its actions on behalf of empirical pursuits, is an example to all other countries of how power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts completely.

  14. David Herman permalink
    November 3, 2010 10:47 pm

    The election should bring about an effort to balance the budget. Here are some examples of how to save money. Leave the unpaid for Bush’s tax cuts die. Declare victory and bring our troops home, only overseas troops are to guard our embassies. Eliminate private contractors in the military. Raise the FICA dollar limit to $250,000. Simplify the tax code for individual taxpayer (three tax brackets and no deductions – a one page document). Have 100% funding for electric solar power on all stores that have flat roofs. Create an energy policy that has us energy independent in 5 years. There is no such thing as too big to fail. If we do not balance the budget, we will need to invade the first country that refuses to fund our government.

  15. November 3, 2010 10:56 pm

    Many thoughtful and meaningful replies here. What I think is that there needs to be a thorough election reform and work on it should begin very soon. We need a system using IRV (Instant Runoff Voting) which would do away with this terrible 2-party gridlock and would allow representation on a wider basis to all citizens. The districting and re-districting is fraudulent and should be discontinued. The Electoral College is at this point in time a dinosaur. And of course, the money and the lobbyists who spend it should be eliminated from the voting process.

    No way that will take place in the present context of the US political evolution, but if the PAC of either (or both) Party should see fit to have IRV and other changes researched and reported for consideration, wouldn’t that be a blessing?

  16. Mary Sue Gmeiner permalink
    November 4, 2010 9:10 am

    How comforting to read the intelligent and thoughtful comments presented here. I am not ready to totally abandon the political process, but the lesson I’m taking away from Tuesday’s election is that change must begin with me. The questions I am asking myself are 1) how many neighbors do I talk to about broader life issues? 2) what kind of relationship have I developed with my own legislators? 3) what is my next step in reducing my carbon footprint?

    Regarding the new START treaty, Foreign Policy in Focus warns that the behind-the-scenes negotiations to get passage in the Senate include huge spending guarantees for missile defense, prompt global strike (PGS), and nuclear and non-nuclear strategic weapons programs.

  17. charley peterson permalink
    November 4, 2010 11:33 am

    No matter whom is elected to serve our state-and district, I must be concerned about the issues that are important to myself and the people I try to represent, family, friends and groups.
    With a new Representative and Senator in Congress, I must start now to write to him on my concerns for arms control and the other very important issues. My representatives deserve to know my issues and how I feel about them even before he/she takes office. Otherwise, she/he will believe that everyone in his district/state thinks exactly along the lines of the rhetoric and slogans of the campaign. ” You will know the Truth and be Free”….. of your old notions and ways of being and doing !

  18. J Nappe permalink
    November 5, 2010 12:38 pm

    This is a most helpful article and comment section. It is difficult to sift through this election malaise. So much hate is flying around. Partly it is good to have a big wakeup call, the bad part is the regressive actions the “Republicans” are purporting. The issues President Obama has tackled, like Public Health Care, are desperately needed in America but the winners of the House leadership are saying, ……”we have subpoenas ready to file to [get rid of Obama Care]”. Why they want to is laid on the lap of greed. Most frightening to me is the fact that the platform these people have is unknown. We don’t know if they are going to make a better health care system if they dump current Health Care bill, how they will pay for continuing the tax cuts for upper income people ($200-400,000 and up), create jobs for unemployed, pull back our manufacturing system, and on.

    Because we people do not know the many positive things the current president has accomplished, we are not in a position to say, “I support President Obama and his accomplishments”. So, I feel skittish and chaotic, and will continue to feel this way until there is a glimmer of hope and the will of we people to fight back the bad choices looming on the horizon.

  19. Kim McCoy permalink
    November 7, 2010 9:27 am

    Lame duck Congress, get to work. You’re public servants with a long vision now, not politicians. Pass immigration reform. Pass a climate/energy bill. Pass resolutions against wars. Let most of the tax cuts expire. Be bold, compassionate, and fiscally responsible, both in this …Congress and the next one (if you were re-elected), where you’ll need to reach across the aisle. Avoid pork in your district, but rebuild the economy green.

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