Being back home in the Midwest is always grounding. The most classic moment was a conversation in a restaurant with someone who was expressing anger at all incumbents and both parties who said to me "nobody is on our side."
That was the theme of yesterday's big day of political news. Three more establishment candidates in both parties were either beaten outright or forced into a runoff. More incumbents going down. Insurgents on the rise everywhere.
And speaking of being everywhere, the irony patrol must be utterly exhausted. While incumbents and establishment politicians are being slaughtered in every region and both parties, in conventions and primaries, politicians continue to make fools of themselves. What was Richard Blumenthal thinking? What was Mark Souder thinking? Oh, wait, thinking wasn't involved. Having an affair with a staffer who works with you on promoting abstinence-only videos is like something out of an Elmore Leonard novel, except funnier. But the irony award for the day doesn't even go to Souder, as tempting as that is: it goes to Mitch McConnell. As his hand-picked protégé was going down in flames to anti-establishment, anti-TARP bailout tea partier Rand Paul, McConnell was leading the Republicans in a desperate attempt to keep the financial reform bill from doing anything worse to his poor pathetic friends on Wall Street, all the while crying a river about how Elena Kagan wanted to hurt the free speech rights of big corporations. Politics doesn't get any better than this.
The tea partiers are wreaking their revenge at McConnell because he has deserted them in order to help Wall Street and other big corporations, just as Democratic primary voters are showing their disdain at incumbents at the same time. The bottom line is that voters are asking the age-old question "which side are you on" and finding that to their outrage, none of the politicians seem like they are on the side of angry voters. In order to have a prayer this fall, Democrats have to show the voters -- both their base voters in the Rising American Electorate, and the swing voters in the working class who still don't have good jobs -- that they are fighting for regular people, not the elite. When the Wall Street bailouts did not produce jobs as promised, voters' attitudes got set at the outrage level, and they still haven't been reset. It is time for Democrats to show which side they are on.
One friend of mine said to me this morning that "it's like most of our Democrats can't seem to read a poll." The New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial elections. The Massachusetts special election. The Utah Republican party conventions. The Mollohan party upset in West Virginia. Yesterday's results. How many wake-up calls do politicians need?
Cross-posted at my home blog, OpenLeft.com, where you can read all of my writing.