Allow me to indulge in a non-Venezuelan (almost!) post.
I have written often to my US detractors, from either side, that one of the things I admired the most about the U.S. political system was its ability at some point to correct its excesses, to find ways to return to more centered positions when a political group loses its ways and purpose.
Even though a Liberal I did not lose much sleep when Bush was "elected" in Florida thinking that he would be a single term president. But 9/11 happened. The correction I expected as early as Bush first mid term elections was delayed until 2006. History and politics work these ways, but in the US the pendulum so far has always come back.
Now the People's Republic of Massachusetts has handed the seat of Ted Kennedy to a Republican! Goodness gracious!
Before I go further let me remind folks that I wrote an eulogy for Ted Kennedy, one of my favorite politicians. And yet I must say that I am sort of pleased by the result of last night election of Scott Brown, a rather handsome politician to a rather gray Senate, a "moderate" Republican that might end up bringing more trouble than joy to a GOP bent on refusing gay rights, abortion needs and such unavoidable XXI century social rights. After all he needs to get reelected and the results of this vote are far, very far from guaranteeing him a reelection in three years.
If the coloring change of the image above is dramatic, the real results are clear though: if you look at the numbers above you will see that Brown improved only slightly over McCain. Thus his victory is due to Democrats staying home. Why? You can find many explanations from the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times (I have avoided reading Boston papers on purpose). But the one I will subscribe to is that the Democratic Congress elected a year ago behaved in an Imperial, Elite way, and that never works out. The Republican Congress elected in the second year of Clinton presidency, after yet another Health Care debacle, acted as arrogantly and allowed for a much easier reelection of Clinton than expected. The pendulum pattern exists. Quite possibly the Democrats might retain Congress this November, but their wings have been clipped last night and it is a good thing, at least for me.
I lived one year in Waltham, a working class suburb of Boston, while doing research in a campus (it is the only light pink county in the map above, the only county Brown carried with less than 50%). Of course I looked for the results of Waltham. Obama carried it massively last year, with 15,276 votes (even though Waltham, if I remember well, was not very African American 20 years ago). This time Brown carries it with a mere 8,546 votes. I mean, the man carries it with barely half of the votes Obama got one year ago!!!! Can Nancy Pelosi of wealthy Marin County understand what happened in Waltham? I have my doubts. But if someone does not explain to her fast what this means, that blue collar and shop keeper democrats might return fast to the GOP, her days as Speaker are shortly numbered.
This election was not about health care reform, but about how this one was carried. After all Massachusetts, and Waltham, do have already a state health care system. What has upset the Waltham voter and made it stay home is that what really matters for them, job security, economic growth, obscene bail outs, had to wait until Barack and Nancy pushed through an expensive package which was not a priority for them.
Why did Obama misread so much the mood of the country and his own election implications? For reasons that always blind politicians who prefer to believe that people voted for them and their ideas rather than against the other side. A little bit like Chavez believing Venezuelans voted in 2006 for his socialism just to be disowned one year later in the referendum. People had reelected Chavez for his handouts, not for his ideas and that is why Chavez has been sinking slowly ever since.
And yet I do not think that this marks an end to Obama, not at all. After all, after a post election learning curve I consider his foreign policy to be globally on the right track. At least for Latin America from his studied avoidance of Latin American viper's nest while managing to undo the Honduras entanglement satisfactorily.
Maybe Obama did not feel as confident about Foreign Policy, he listened to his advisers, took experience into account and his prudence paid off. If this is the case then his approach to US policies was overconfident and he let himself be seduced by the left of the Democratic Congress who whispered sweet nothings to his ear. Thus the solution for Obama could be very simple: listen to ALL Democrats (and some Republicans). That way the damage can repaired enough that by November you will retain Congress. Maybe a weaker Congress but still a Democratic one (I do not see how Democrats can lose the Senate but I can see Nancy out of a job).
PS: the problem viewed from here is that I do not see now how Obama will get the nerve to try to pass the much needed FTA with Colombia. And yet it is more needed than ever, something that Pelosi should wake up to, the easiest way for her to prove that she is more than just a knee jerk Liberal, that she is also a stateswoman.