David Hoppe

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:: In rich we trust

Those 2014 midterms

by David Hoppe

In case you missed it: Republicans cleaned up in this year’s midterm elections. They won a majority in the U.S. Senate, giving them control of both houses of Congress (three out of four, if you count the Supreme Court).

They also blew through a mess of governor’s races. Minnesota is now the only one of the Great Lakes states with a Dem in its statehouse.

An electoral map of the United States looks like the Joker’s grin: a great red gash, with a couple of blue dimples on either coast. The GOP now has the widest margin of control in both chambers since 1929. That was just before the Great Depression.

As usual, everybody’s blaming Obama for what’s happened. Never mind that the stock market’s breaking records, unemployment’s down and the cost of a gallon of gas is less than three dollars.

In another week, Republicans will probably be asking us to thank them.

Political pundits are saying voters (those that showed up — turnout hit record lows in some places, including Indiana) were angry. Or scared. Or wanting change (again).

Whatever. One thing seems clear: Americans seem to trust the rich more than whatever is left of our government. In state after state, people voted for candidates who want to lower corporate taxes, get rid of regulations, and reduce government services.

When it comes to healthcare, they might as well have voted for insurance companies. The environment? Best to let the energy firms decide how much pollution is too much. And when it comes to education, leave that to the CEOs — they’re the ones hiring.

The twitchy thing in all this is that in five states people voted either to raise or recommend an increase for the minimum wage. Then they voted for candidates who have done everything they can to either outsource jobs, or support policies favoring lower pay.

This tendency to believe that the rich know what’s best for the rest of us isn’t new. We’ve been headed in this direction in a kind of forced march ever since the Supreme Court ruled that money equals free speech and that corporations have the same rights as individuals.

But it goes back even farther than that, to the so-called “public-private partnerships” that have slapped corporate logos on an array of formerly public assets, from state university departments to parklands.

Forget Occupy Wall Street, and the widening gap between the rich and everybody else. According to the latest election results, we think that gap is a good thing. How else can Americans tell winners from losers?

If Indiana has a “been there, done that” attitude about the latest Republican onslaught, it’s because our state’s made an electoral habit of being run by the rich, for the rich — I mean job creators — for some time. This state isn’t just Red, it’s “super” Red. You see how that’s worked out.

As the man said as he fell from a window on the 13th floor: “So far, so good.”