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Saturday, November 11, 2006 

Election Aftermath

[I've waited to finish this post until the major results were all final. In living with so much Republican control for so long, I've learned not to take things for granted. However, it appears now that we really have done what we thought we'd done. Thank God. - NSP]

"The times they are a-changin'"
- Bob Dylan

So...we won. It's odd to be able to say that, but we won. We won nationally and we won at the state level. Congress will be returning to Washington in January to a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate, and the Legislature will be returning to St. Paul to large DFL majorities in both the House and the Senate as well. With the sad exception of the governor's office, we will also have Democrats in the constitutional offices. Despite an embarrassing loss in the 6th, we will be sending a majority DFL delegation to Washington. We won, and it's going to mean a brighter future for our state, our country, and just possibly our whole world.

A lot of my fellow bloggers have already written a lot on the results at the state and national levels. As this post is up almost four days after Election Day, I don't see the point in my doing the same. The Big E has some Hatch/Ellison comparison, MNCR has some analysis of polling accuracy, Mintellect has returned for a little post-election rundown, and of course Kos is a great source for information at the national level. Lots of other bloggers and media folks have posted enormous amounts of analysis already; it's there for the finding.

Both Congress and the Legislature are now controlled by Democrats, but we still face relatively strong Republican executives. One of the keys to our success will be to neutralize them early by passing overwhelmingly popular legislation that they are likely to veto to protect the interests their extremely conservative bases. Stem cell legislation, minimum wage legislation, and legislation to allow direct negotiation with pharmaceutical companies are examples of this. Framing the next two (national) and four (Minnesota) years is important, and if we can force Republican leaders to veto centrist, mainstream pieces of legislation, it can quickly become clear to the public that their priorities are our priorities and the Republican executives stand against them. It will be pretty hard for Pres. Bush to lose any more support, but weakening Gov. Pawlenty can only be a good thing. Having the public on our side will allow us to be successful with our other, potentially more divisive priorities.

One of the things I've been thinking about most since Tuesday is how we treat Republicans now that we control three chambers that we didn't before. Particularly in the U.S. House, Democrats have been pretty mistreated for quite a long time, and I'm sure the same is true in the U.S. Senate and MN House, though I doubt that it has been as bad. Matt Stoller at MyDD wrote a little bit about this a month ago. While Republicans are obviously not due any of the advantages of the majority, I believe that to treat their caucus as second-class would be to sink to their level, a level unbecoming of the Democratic Party; as nice as it would be to turn the GOP's behavior around on them, such turnabout accomplishes nothing. Though we're still riding high on our victory on Tuesday, it's impossible to say how 2008 or 2010 will treat us, and were we to abuse the Republican caucuses things would likely be worse the next time they retake a majority. In the interest of real bipartisanship, I hope that we are fair - but tough. We can run all over our opposition in a lot of ways without being unfair or nasty. For the sake of our democratic system I deeply fear that nastiness becoming permanent in St. Paul and D.C., and I wish it weren't the burden of Democrats to turn it around, but it is. Let's take this opportunity to show once again why we're the better party.

All that said, it will be intriguing to see how the GOP handles being the minority party again. With all their talk about a "permanent Republican majority" it may be that some of them really believed that they would never lose again. It's tough to lose so much so fast, but it's no more than the remaining members deserve. Don't be surprised to see a number of Republican retirements or possibly even party switches over the next two years.

By the way, to those faithful few who are still around to read this: I'm still embarrassed about the state of this blog over the past months, but I intend to increase my time commitment to it and blog consistently and frequently in the future. You can expect quite a bit more NSP from now on.

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