Election 2014 Postmortem: We Fucking Did This To Ourselves
Election 2014 Postmortem: We Fucking Did This To Ourselves
By Erin Gloria Ryan / jezebel.com
Nov 5, 2014

Did you vote yesterday? Are you under 30? Well, congratu-fucking-lations. You are among the few and the proud.

Yesterday, Republicans swept to what I'm bound by day-old tradition to refer to as "historic victories," taking the Senate, increasing their majority in the House, and holding fast to most contested governor's races. They even picked up a few surprises—for the first time since 2003, Illinois elected a Republican over incumbent Muppet Pat Quinn, and in Maryland, Republican Larry Hogan upset Anthony Brown (and, one can assume, most of the Democratic Get Out the Vote drive in the state). Wonks insist that this is a referendum on the job that President Obama is doing, or on Obamacare, or on Ebola, on "the economy." "The American people want something new." "The American people want change."

Nope. Old white people want change. And they're the ones who get it, because they're the ones who give enough of a shit to vote in midterms.

NBC News has some telling (and shameful) data visualization about who votes, and when. This year, 37% of the people who voted were over 60. Only 12% of voters were under 30. Compare that to 2012, when Democrats were the ones celebrating — 19% of the vote came from people under 30 and only 25% from people over 60. In 2010, that gap widened up again; 12% of voters were under 30 and 32% were over 60. In that election, Republicans won big, swinging the House. In 2008, young people showed up, and Democrats won. It's not rocket science.

Young people are simply not showing the fuck up when they're not voting for President. And as a result, the people sweeping into other political offices during midterms—from the local level all the way to Capitol Hill—are at best out of touch, and at worst raving lunatics with world views so dangerously antique that they defy parody.

Disapproving of the right wing and then electing even fringier right wingers to office is the electoral equivalent of ordering the worst item on the menu and then sending it back because it doesn't have a hair in it. But by not voting, we managed to pull it off! Congratulations, us!Witness Senator-elect Joni Ernst, Iowa's answer to Michele Bachmann, who once sponsored a Personhood bill and says she carries a gun to protect herself from the federal government. This is a woman who got into an exchange with Esquire's Charlie Pierce this week when he pointed out that only one person in the US currently has Ebola. "You're giving me your opinion," shesaid. Melting wax figure Ted Cruz has already taken to cable news to declare that he will not necessarily be supporting human turtle Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader (but will be, as always, supporting Ted Cruz Awareness). Thom Tillis, a cosponsor of North Carolina's "motorcycle vagina bill" is about to be sworn into the Senate for a six-year term. Tea Party favorite Mia Love was elected to office in Utah, becoming Congress's first ever black Republican woman.

This is what happens when young people sit out elections. The Tea Party is not dead because we haven't shown up to kill it.

Contrary to what the faces of Sad Liberal Cable News Commentators may indicate, it's not all bad; anybody lamenting this country's doom today either has a very short memory or wasn't paying attention to what happened in 2010 and 2012. In recent history, Democrats have benefitted when more people vote, and they've especially benefitted when young people get off their perky asses and assert themselves as citizens. The 2016 election season will be here before we know it, and by then we'll have double the shitshow to be angry about, and they will come out to vote in bigger numbers, and they will likely undo some of what happened last night.

But this doesn't mean that young people's binge-purge relationship with democracy is harmless or that what has been done can be fully undone. The Senate, after all, is in charge of confirming federal judges, and with the GOP in charge, they stand to put a dent in the judicial legacy the Obama administration was quietly building. Ruth Bader Ginsburg better not retire or die in the next two years, or her replacement will face a judiciary committee headed by Scalia fans. And don't be surprised if the nuts Grandma elected use their newfound legislative power to impeachPresident Obama. They can do that, now. They can also pass the craziest, most batshit laws that they want, including that 20-week federal abortion ban McConnell said he'd push back in June. They can pass laws until they're blue—or red—in the face, but President Obama doesn't have to sign them, and Republicans don't have a big enough majority to override the President's veto. Politicians from both sides are saying that they'll work to compromise, but history — and well-earned cynicism — dictate that what will probably happen is more of the same, but with new characters. In other words, Congress is going to do even more nothing than they've already been doing, but they're going to be crazier about it.

What happened last night might look scary, but it's a disaster of our own making. This is what we get when young people sit on their asses instead of voting—old white people decide who will make laws primarily affecting the much younger, the much browner. We don't have to let the out-of-touch paranoia of the elderly dictate the direction of the country, but we have, over and over, and the damage continues to pile up in our system like poison.

A few bright spots: Oregon passed its Equal Rights Amendment and legalized recreational marijuana, DC jumped on the Pot For Fun train as well, and so did Alaskans. Anti-abortion measures failed in both North Dakota and Colorado. And: Scott Brown lost to Jeanne Shaheen, making him the first Senate candidate in US history to lose to two different women. Girl power?

Image via Getty.

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Election 2014 Postmortem: We Fucking Did This To Ourselves