Last Tuesday’s midterm elections demonstrated a clear break from the Obama fervor of 2008, illustrating the American public’s dissatisfaction with the current administration and its policies. Taking at least 60 seats in the House, Republicans made Congressional gains that no party has seen since 1948. With control of the House, Conservatives will be able to call ethics investigations, hold hearings and withhold funding of key government programs, like national health care. Republicans made a big dent in the Democrat’s Senate majority, with a net gain of six seats, and now have control of over 30 governorships.
What’s striking is that California did not follow the nation’s general trend of Conservatism.
Jerry Brown defeated Republican challenger, Meg Whitman, by a significant margin, securing California as a Democratic stronghold amidst a wave of Republican victories. Barbara Boxer returned to a Washington that is becoming increasingly opposed to her progressive ideology. Despite our worries about her positions on economic policies, Lois Capps easily overcame her Republican challenger, Tom Watson, who made fiscal conservatism the centerpiece of his campaign. Even seasoned moderate Republican Mike Stoker was bested by an inexperienced, yet bold environmentalist, Das Williams. California stands as a political island unto itself, attempting to preserve the Obama agenda in a national climate that hungers for its repeal.
The interests of California’s youth were moderately represented in the state’s propositions. Proposition 23 was defeated handily, safeguarding California’s landmark global warming legislation. The power of redistricting has been placed in the hands of citizens via Prop 20, preventing our inert state representatives from drawing corrupt district lines. Unfortunately, a combination of special interests and traditionalist mindsets prevented a historic expansion of liberty. Prop 19 failed to pass despite the social and fiscal incentives of decriminalization.
But the disconnect between our values and the views of the nation is disconcerting.
As students, we’re scared. We’re scared about the economy, which has failed to recover despite far reaching efforts to stimulate growth and regulate greedy opportunism. We’re scared about the prospect of political gridlock in Washington — partisan politics that will prevent the implementation of crucial reform. We’re scared about the ideological drift of the nation toward polarization and political radicalism. As the next generation, we are witnessing a growing divide between our priorities and that of political elites. And we will inherit the burdens of our elected officials and the mistakes of the generation currently acting on our behalf.
Our individual actions no longer define the culture we desire to live in, but are being manufactured by traditional and political forces. The economic climate that we will graduate into will be produced by a political perfect storm that has been brewing over the last decade and is now culminating in an historic battle for the nation’s identity.
We’re a generation caught in the crossfire, and we’re hoping to survive unscathed.