I wrote a brief examination of the election results for Washington State that went out in our twice monthly newsletter that focused exclusively on the initiatives and their potential impact. I wanted to play it as "hard" news so I did not editorialize my own thoughts about what the people of Washington State have unleashed in their votes, but I think I have calmed down enough to do it with slightly less throbbing in my head as I write.
First of all, I am a pragmatist in my views about government, taxation and the role and responsibility we have towards each other and the unfortunate. Government is one of the pillars that hold up our society and it is one of the only institutions that can systematically help create and maintain a more equitable society. It is not the only solution to our many problems, but it is one of the most powerful influences on our everyday lives.
This election cycle we saw another side of democracy that sickened many of us. Negative campaigns, fear, anger, and a sense of hopelessness was rained upon us minute after minute to inflame the passions, deaden the heart and distort the actual facts of the state of our nation. Many people were disappointed in the actions taken by the government before the election and did not even see the work that has been accomplished.
The general mood in Washington State was "don't tax me at all, but don't touch my medicare." Nearly all the tax initiatives that would have gone far to supply revenue to the state coffers were overturned or reversed. Also, there were new laws put into place that make it harder for the state to gather resources in the future. It is a short sighted outlook and general mistrust of government that made many voters check the boxes towards hamstringing their own government.
With the laws of Washington State in regards to budgets in mind, we will see a cutting of services that are essential such as health care, education, and human services. It is little surprise that the ones who will suffer the most are the most unfortunate. Many people in the middle class have had a rude awakening with this economic recession that they are not as economically solid as they were lead to believe. This causes fear and a tightening of purse strings in regards to the aide and comfort of their neighbors. People are looking to their own houses instead of seeing the larger picture that without our neighbors, colleagues and friends none of us can make it in this economic system of give and take.
On the national level the biggest disappointment is the naivete of the defeated Democrats. Repeatedly they have said that they see this thumping as a sign that people want compromise and the language nearly to a person in the Democratic caucus has been expecting compromise from the Republicans. Republicans on the other hand have made it clear that compromise is not in their plan.
Politics has gotten too charged with personal insults, class warfare and misunderstanding. It is a tug and pull of fear and loathing and in the end we are the ones to suffer. The election results will lead to extended gridlock and we will see a slowing of accomplishments as the term begins in January. We can't afford to have a government that is sitting on its hands in this economic pressure we face. We need a government that will put aside its ideological differences and get things done for those who cannot do on their own without assistance. We need to set in place economic systems that open up opportunities and an education system that will prepare us for the near and present future.
For another analysis of the midterms from the viewpoint of its effects on Nonprofits check out The Nonprofit Quarterly.