So much for “the wisdom of crowds.” Last night, knowing (theoretically, at least) that the one completely irrational choice for the nation at this critical juncture in its history is more gridlock born of ideological intransigence, voters sent a dysfunctional Congress back to Washington, opting for a radical conservative House and a radical liberal Senate despite telling pollsters that this was the least trusted Congress in history. Just to make sure compromise and movement would be as difficult as possible, the public also re-elected a President who, whatever his other virtues, has shown neither the ability nor the inclination to engage in effective negotiation with his political adversaries on the Hill. There were plenty of more responsible options available to voters:
- Commit to the President, and give his party majorities in both Houses of Congress so he could get his policies implemented, for better or worse,
- Give the Senate back to the GOP, so some of the bills the House has passed can be sent to the President’s desk
- Sweep everybody out and try a new team to see if it can do any better.
But no. The American public, in its infinite wisdom, opted for nearly the exact toxic partisan mix that has served the nation so miserably for the past two years. Unquestionably, the biggest ethics failure on election night was this one.
Yet there was progress, as voters rejected some of the more unethical officials offering their services. Unfortunately, these wise and ethical choices were greatly diluted by other unforgivable ones. On the plus side:
- Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) lost. The Congressman from Illinois 8th Congressional District was not only relentlessly unprofessional and uncivil but also a deadbeat dad, and the only member of Congress Ethics Alarms has designated a Fick. Yay.
- Rep. Todd Akin lost his bid to win the Senate seat in Missouri. Akin had marked himself as an ignorant dolt by espousing the ridiculous and offensive theory that the body magically knows whether or not a woman has really, really been raped by preventing fertilization by those evil sperm, as opposed to the nice, friendly ones. Then he showed complete disregard for his duty to his party when it demanded that he step aside and allow a candidate who had not disqualified himself to try to unseat the eminently unseatable Sen. Claire McCaskill. Selfish, stubborn and stupid is no way to go through life, son, but at least Akin will go through it somewhere other than the U.S. Senate.
- Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Cal.) finally, finally is out. Her corrupt ways have been thoroughly documented, and she was reprimanded this year by the House Ethics Committee. When CREW, the supposedly non-partisan ethics watchdog groups that somehow only only rarely finds Democrats unethical, targets a Democratic Congresswoman four years in a row as one of the most corrupt politicians on the Hill, you know she must be bad. Gone. Good.
- Mark Clayton, Tennessee’s embarrassing Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, lost, as expected. This almost makes up for the fact that he was a major party’s nominee despite having no qualifications, no support, and showing every sign of being an unhinged conspiracy theorist. When major parties allow people like Clayton to pollute the ballot on election day, democracy is an illusion.
- Republican Richard Mourdock lost his bid to win become one of Indiana’s U.S. Senators, thanks to his statement suggesting that if the pregnancy pixies don’t stop rape victims from getting pregnant like Todd Akin says, it’s because God himself has decided that a rape-induced pregnancy is good for all concerned. What an idiot. Worse, his comments attempted to put a positive spin on rape and suggest that if a victim seeks an abortion, she is opposing God’s will.
- Allen West (R-Fla) probably lost. Not that it wasn’t a novelty to have a conservative Republican in the Congressional Black Caucus, but West’s methods of advocacy regularly included insults, verbal abuse and wild accusations. The House instantly becomes more civil and collegial without him. Let’s hope that his opponent’s thin margin in votes holds up: West will insist on every recount option and challenge, because sportsmanship isn’t his style.
Unfortunately, for every step forward in the march to more ethical government there was a step back:
- Elizabeth Warren won Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat back from Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts. Warren is a radical ideologue, a hypocrite, a phony, and quite possibly practiced law unethically in a jurisdiction where she wasn’t licensed to do so. But in Massachusetts, as Teddy himself proved, you can be all sorts of bad things and still succeed…if you’re a Democrat.
- Charles Rangel (D-NY) was returned to the House for the 22nd time. There are few better examples of how power corrupts; Rangel broke laws and flouted conflict of interest rules so flagrantly that House Democrats were forced to discipline him, though less strictly than his conduct deserved. An honorable and more ethical man would have had the decency to resign, or at least retire. Not Charlie.
- Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), who was defeated two years ago, is now back in Congress to regain bis mantle as the most uncivil, irresponsible, divisive, disrespectful member of Congress. All by himself, the despicable Grayson’s return cancels out the salutary effects of getting rid of West and Walsh.
- Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va) was re-elected. My own Congressman is one of the most obviously corrupt in the House. In past terms he has accepted a personal loan from a lobbyist prior to voting the lobbyist’s way on legislation (Moran said there was no connection, as if “avoiding the appearance of impropriety” was an alien concept to him…which, come to think of it, it probably is) and took a below market low-interest mortgage from a bank that also wanted his vote…and got it, naturally. The fact that his son was caught on camera brain-storming on effective voter fraud methods tells you what kind of values are taught in the Moran household. He is a Democrat, however, and Northern Virginia is a lot like Massachusetts in this respect.
- Rep. Michele Bachman (R-Minn.) barely eked out re-election. Rats. Her dedication to making up historical facts to support her passion for the Constitution actively makes Congress and America dumber, which neither needs. She also opposes civil rights for gay Americans based on her fantasies about them, such as believing homosexuality can be “cured,” like the flu.
- Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) also was re-elected, despite ample evidence that his influence can be bought. Like Laura Richardson, Bishop is so bad that the Center For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington couldn’t look the other way.
- Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill), arguably the most outrageous of all. This is so unforgivable that my mind apparently repressed it in an effort to stop my head from exploding. As I recently explained, Jackson is corrupt, inept, unable to go to work and emotionally ill. Naturally, he was re-elected easily. Is this a great country, or what?
I’m looking on the bright side.
It could have been worse.