Demos' Chances Looking Bleak, Especially on the Lone Prairie
"Oh, bury me not on the lone prairie, where the coyotes howl and the wind blows free."
That is a line from an old Western song sometimes known as "The Cowboy's Lament."
(Shameless promotion: The song is among those included at the Golf Capital Chorus' 30th annual show, "Barbershop Goes to the Movies." Also featured will be "Crossroads," 2009 Barbershop Harmony Society International Champions.
The show is at Pinecrest High School auditorium on Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available from any member or at the door.)
What brings that song to mind, apart from the fact that I have been singing it regularly for several months, is how neatly, albeit inadvertently, it sums up the Democrats' dilemma in the coming election.
It is indeed on the lone prairie, and surrounding territories, where the Democrats are likely to be buried. While the Republicans are far more competitive than usual in the Northeast and on the West Coast, and will probably pick up a number of national and local offices there, it is out in the heartland that the biggest changes are likely to occur.
Six Democratic House seats are at serious risk in Ohio, and Republican John Kasich is leading the polls for the -governor's race. Longtime Sen. Russ Feingold is in deep trouble in reliably liberal Wisconsin. Republican Roy Blunt is leading Robin Carnahan in the Missouri governor's race between two longtime political dynasties. Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln is far behind in the polls in Arkansas. Illinois and Colorado are leaning right.
Pundits are predicting that, whatever happens in Congress, Republicans will capture a -significant majority of statehouses and will make large gains in state legislatures. This is very important for the future, in that these legislatures will redistrict their states based on the 2010 census. Unless gerrymandering becomes a lost art, this will bode well for Republicans in the future.
It is normal for the controlling party to lose seats at midterm, but this election looks to be extraordinary in its potential turnover. Hard-core coastal liberals may cling to the Democrats, but the middle of the country, both geographic and political, is swinging to the right.
That people should resist the dramatic changes emanating from Washington is no great surprise. What is surprising is that they should turn to a party that, at least in some polls, is less popular than the one in power. It is a sad comment on both our national state of mind and our political system that they have nowhere else to go.
We can hope that, if the Democrats are buried in this election, they will be sufficiently chastened to deal rationally with Republicans in the legislature. This new mindset must likewise apply to the president. Good luck.
We must also hope that the Republicans will not gloat over their victory and simply bring government to a standstill for the next two years. That would only result in another reversal of parties in Congress and the re-election of Mr. Obama.
Americans clearly believe that most governments at most levels are functioning badly and are frustrated with the choices being offered at the ballot box.
They are turning to the party out of power because it is the only choice they have. Anyone elected to any office this year should assume that he is there by default - that his future is just as insecure as the person he replaced.
A line further on in that -cowboy song goes: "We paid no heed to his dying plea and buried him there on the lone prairie." It seems likely that that will be the fate of Democrats next month. But Republicans should not be too gleeful.
There's plenty of room on that prairie.
Fred Wolferman lives in Southern Pines. Contact him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story