US midterm elections not revolutionary

By Arthur I. Cyr ,Special to The China Post

“We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take this anymore.” The statement is drawn from the 1976 film “Network,” which satirized the television industry, and sums up public hostility to Washington big spending. Exploiting the sentiment, Republicans have captured the House of Representative and made Senate gains, aided by the Tea Party movement.

U.S. President Barack Obama is now on notice that winning a second term will be a tough fight. He responded immediately by holding a press conference, and suggesting a bipartisan summit with Congress.

The first move is very sensible — if very overdue — by a President who has dodged having press conferences even while constantly campaigning via the town meetings he loves. An earlier conference with Congressional leaders was generally well received, indicating bipartisanship is not entirely dead.

The election results are neither unprecedented nor even unsettling in the long sweep of American politics, despite a lot of media commentary to the contrary. As more serious pundits point out, the party which wins the White House generally loses seats in the Congressional contests two years later.

The only modern examples of off-year gains in both Congress houses are 1934 and 2002. The first occurred in the depths of the Great Depression, as the electorate repudiated Republicans widely viewed as directly responsible for the suffering of that era.

The second occurred in the shocked aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and remains directly germane to current political party competition. The Republicans now firmly have high ground in that most people believe they are more effective in protecting national security.