Voters went to sleep Tuesday night with the knowledge that Democrats were winning across the country and would change the face of Congress. But many woke up to the gnawing sense that not much has changed in politics – not unless the results reverse the gridlock, irrelevancy and lack of accountability that grip Washington.
``The American people are going to keep voting against government until they feel like it’s working,’’ Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., told HOTSOUP.com Wednesday, issuing a warning to his fellow Democrats. ``Voters are going to keep punishing those who are simply squabbling instead of solving problems.’’
As if to prove his point, grassroots opinion leaders who make up the issues-based HOTSOUP community expressed skepticism that politics will improve with Tuesday’s results. “I do not believe there will be much different happening Wednesday,” wrote “Gulbrand,” as Democrats seized control of the House. Republicans struggled to hold the Senate, raising the prospect of a divided Congress.
In Loops, or discussion boards at HOTSOUP, skeptical voters demanded an end to partisan gridlock. “The best we can hope for in this election … is that our government will be more accountable,” wrote Caroline. “The perfect outcome is an election that gives us less polarized government that more represents the middle or moderate person.”
Many predicted the rise of third- and even fourth-party politics in America unless Democrats and Republicans get their acts together.
“We need a third-party system which will involve all the thoughtful minds of Republican and Democrats, and those moderate, intelligent thinkers who realize that solutions must come from in-depth study and debate, not from following the party line,” wrote ladylavender.
Even Democratic partisans said a major GOP defeat may not be enough to fix a political system that doesn’t seem connected to average Americans. “Republicans will still hold the presidency,” Gulbrand said.
“The only way to get more people involved and less apathetic about politics would be to throw out the Dems and Repubs and start electing independents that actually will make a difference and effect some change,” wrote Ryan. “The system has become corrupt and self-perpetuating, (and) the only way to break the cycle would be for the public to organize and send the country a message: We will not stand for corrupt leaders anymore, not matter what party they are in.”
It was the same outside the Soup: In surveys at polling places, about three-quarters of voters said scandals mattered to them in deciding how to vote, and they were more likely to side with Democrats. The surveys were taken by The Associated Press and the networks.
“The average person is politics is thinking horizontally and talking about things right and left,” Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, told HOTSOUP. “The average American thinks vertically – what they’re interested in is not party ideology, but, ‘Are you going to lift me up or take me down?’”
Obama, who like Huckabee is HOTSOUP contributor, said Democrats now have the responsibility to address issues like Iraq, health care and education that matter to Americans.
“If we get dragged back into ideological battles with the president and Republicans, then I think we’ll see further messages sent by the American people,” Obama said. ``And they won’t be good.”