It’s been a few days, and the counting will soon be done – completed, and then disputed, and recounted, and at least one will be decided by a run-off election.
Some well-regarded veterans got retired, some fools got elected, and for the most part, people who had done a great job for their electorate got re-elected.
Media and candidates who lost won’t give up until the public is fed-up, so don’t hold your breath just yet – there is more, plus a run-off election in Georgia.
Hand-wringing is well underway in Alberta (we had only one by-election, albeit an important one for Premier Smith to win a seat – her lack of stellar results are being sifted like tea leaves), and the U.S. had mid-term elections for national and state posts.
As I finish this column Saturday afternoon, counting continues with several key races too close to call. For Canadians, too close has a different meaning because we are joined with them at the 49th parallel, and our historical experience has been that when America sneezes, Canadians get a cold …
Parties controlling the house and senate in the U.S. are shaping up closer than expected, with a shift to red/Republican control muted from what was expected by pundits, parties and political purists/strategists.
It seems everyone got it more than a little bit wrong.
It is tempting to discuss what everyone could have done differently in any election campaign – but for most of us who don’t spend our careers running or running the people who are running, we watch the before, the during, and the dragged-out-aftermath regurgitation of headlines, talking-heads and sound-bytes after the media circus moves on to some alternate news for a while before they launch into their coverage of the next cycle – next May (maybe) in Alberta, and two years away for the American presidential primaries, conventions and campaigns. It’s surreality television …
Meanwhile, digesting recent events and coverage to glean understanding is like Monday morning quarterbacking to give comments after an election – and in the U.S. elections, their dust has yet to settle, so pundits will read tea leaves for weeks to come. In Alberta, only one race was run, which had an expected outcome, a win for newly anointed Premier Danielle Smith. She got 54.5% of the vote (compared to 53% in her party leadership win) in a riding won by the UCP candidate last time by 10,000 votes.
The U.S. elections will/have been swung by hate politics, polarized differences in regions of the country, abortion, the economy and election deniers. Those who said democracy was on trial were, I believe, proven generally wrong – and while the women-force vote on abortion tipped races what would have gone more Republican, the best quote to describe the overall results and voter sentiment goes to Bill Clinton in 1992 when he said, “It’s the economy, stupid” … and yet, post-election results will be, a democratic President with a Republican House and Senate still too close to call, with at least one run-off election in December, which leaves their government in lame-duck mode for a few weeks, during which COP27, inflation, central bankers and climate change hand-wringers will get back to nail-biting and watching the world happening to them instead of them happening to the world.
If U.S. election watching, as we do in Canada, carefully and up close, we will see little changes, but nothing of earthshaking magnitude, a reminder that beyond media, think tanks and smoke-filled political rooms, people all over the world are too focused on their self-interest to go lemming-like in any particular direction.
And, what we’ll all be watching because it will be fed to us daily via media, is two years (or, yikes, six possibly) more of Trump in the news cycle, cycle, cycle … filled with rage-fomenting lies and large crowds (one must wonder how far removed that is from the Hitler in 1939 when a small-minded man wanted to use crowd-swaying lies and hatred to make himself larger than any human out to be)
As for Smith and Alberta, people are speaking, and 54.5% is telling. Fortunately, those who are doing well are doing well, and those who are failing or falling through the cracks are doing better than they would if the economy wasn’t strong and commodity prices were high. The roller-coaster ride is continuing in Alberta and is predicted by most economically wise guys/gals to be stronger here than in any other province and most countries in 2023. That’s a great spot to be in, so for our premier to win only 54.5% of the vote in a ‘hard to lose safe seat’ is telling us that the political mix and pitting rural v. urban is not the same calculus as it was a generation ago.
I often joke with fellow politics watchers that most Albertans weren’t Albertans or alive when Peter Lougheed left office. The loyalty people feel toward any party or leader is mixed up compared with historical norms we’ve not seen before in this province. Yet it remains the best province in Canada to be free and to see opportunity in every day, on every corner, so that part of the landscape is reliable. As for party landscapes, that is changing.
And, woven throughout everything in every country – trends and despots come and go, big things take many people doing coordinated difficult work over a long timeframe made change happen (overturning Roe v. Wade was the product of 30+ years of Republicans pushing away at judge appointments at every level – the tipped more than the balance in the Supreme Court, they tipped justice on its ear and tipping back cannot be done in a single election cycle, or two or three).