Today marks a special day in the US. Unless you pay attention to nothing and live under a rock, you know that today is the day Americans are selecting a large contingent of politicians for representation in a wide array of offices, but most closely followed are races for the US Senate and US House of Representatives. The race when there is no election for President available, has been designated by media as the “midterm” elections. The term shows how much power the US has granted to its executive office. So much so that this election season is just a little less important in the minds of most Americans.
So, there is all sorts of speculation about the impact of today’s voting and what it will represent for at least the next two years. The media loves this, as it gives them news stories that a majority of Americans think are enormously important and creates a lot of viewership with big media that they don’t normally have. But, it also creates a massive influx of advertising dollars for the news outlets that determines their profitability for the next two years. It’s bigger advertising money than the Super Bowl. Local retailers don’t even try right now. All the advertising spots on television are filled with political nastiness. The amount of money spent on advertising and campaigning is likely the biggest impact these elections will have. It’s good for business, because it circulates a lot of money, but it’s bad for people who get sick of the advertising while they watch their favorite programming.
The economy might gain a temporary benefit from campaign spending while the power of government is on full display as people spend millions of dollars to capture offices that pay probably 1/10 or less of what they spend. But, ultimately, will today’s election bring about real change for the next two years? Probably not. Ultimately, there’s likely to be very little impact, regardless of which side gains more seats.
If you examine the last 80 years or so of the makeup of US national government, things are not all that different from either Democrats or Republicans being in power, in terms of spending. In a benefit to Democrats, I’m excluding the era of creation of entitlements and military spending that forever changed the landscape of American government expenditures, because Republicans seemed to fall in love with them and never really made any substantial changes. Even with the advantage I’ve given to Democrats in the statistics, on average, that particular party has grown annual expenditures at a rate of somewhere close to 8%, while Republicans have grown annual expenditures at somewhere close to 6% when they were in power. That’s not a whole lot of difference, especially for the GOP, which attempts to lay claim to being the party of smaller government.
What about the expansion of government involvement into social freedoms? Well, choose your favorite flavor of dislike for individual rights. Each side has their favorite freedoms and dislike of certain natural rights. Democrats love free speech (so long as it’s speech with which they agree), and they desire to keep people from being wealthy (and their claims of how they define wealth seem to be arbitrary and dubious). Republicans want to legislate morality, which for the time being might be what the majority find good and decent behavior (but what government pendulum goes one way can always also go the other), and they tend toward controlling what some people do and how they choose to associate. There are plenty of other examples and both sides, but both sides have their own ideas of government controlled behaviors.
Over the past couple of decades, much of foreign policy has been usurped away from Congress and into the hands of the executive branch, but if you’re a resident of a foreign nation wondering how the midterm elections will affect you, probably still not that much. While war is most typically brought about by executive action these days, both parties seem to be as much inclined to declare war against you. Both parties happily fund black projects and military installations around the world. Both parties have their designs on manipulating the governments around the world into what they think might be more favorable policy toward the US. And, when it comes to trade wars and tariffs, both parties seem to have a love for them, unless, of course, it was introduced by the other side, then they will take those away and institute their own.
Understand that I am writing this blindly before the results of today’s election, and I am making no predictions as to which party will gain the most seats. I will leave that to the people who can profit from such predictions. I personally don’t see the point, because my prediction is that for the next two years until the next major elections, things will be pretty much the same. It’s an interesting news cycle, and a nice boon for campaign spending, but that’s about it. Ultimately, when we wake up tomorrow, the debt will continue to expand at an unnatural pace, government will continue to spend more, individual freedoms will decrease at roughly the same pace, and the US and world really wouldn’t have changed all that much.
Featured image: Donkey Hotey, flickr
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