Here are three things you need to know before you watch the results of the midterm elections:
1. If the GOP gets a big win, it WON'T be about the economy. All the polls say that the economy remains the No. 1 issue for American voters. But that's a misleading statistic, because it's been the No. 1 issue for a very long time. What swings elections, especially midterm elections that are dominated by the most hardened partisan voters, are new swing issues that influence just enough independent and undecided voters to go to the polls.
Economic anger wasn't enough to give the GOP the Senate in 2010 or 2012, and it won't be enough to do it now. But what could mean victory for the Republicans tonight is the sudden spike in voter concern over security and leadership issues from ISIS, to Ebola to the Southern U.S. border. Voters who are highly interested in those issues are leaning strongly for GOP candidates and they could make the difference when the final votes are all counted.
2. "Gridlock" is a LIE. All the experts keep telling us that just about every possible election result tonight will result in what they call "continuing legislative gridlock" in Washington, D.C.
Okay, I get the fact that not too many bills have been passed since the Republicans took the House in 2010. But the conventional wisdom about nothing getting done is flat out ridiculous.
For example, in the just-completed fiscal year, the federal government took in a record $3 trillion-plus of our tax dollars. At the same time, it spent $4 trillion-plus dollars. I would say that's 7 trillion things getting done right there.
The size and scope of the government continues to increase, gridlock or no gridlock. The government in America has become a living organism that neither Democrats nor Republicans can tame, even when they supposedly want to or are working together.
So don't fret about voting for someone today and worrying that he or she won't be able to make much difference. The fact is quite the contrary as you will sending someone to join a small group of just 535 people overseeing a $4 trillion annual Leviathan with a $17 trillion debt.
3. The free market won! You can't turn on a news program or click on a political story these days without hearing someone bemoan the terrible increase in campaign spending. They have some big numbers on their side, as this election is breaking all midterm spending records by crossing the $4 billion mark.
But the doomsayers who say this proves that the big money interests are going to dominate our government thanks to relaxed finance rules are getting it all wrong.
As usual, a little economic literacy could have helped them out in this case. That's because there was so much money coming into these elections from ALL SIDES that any one group or party had no chance to dominate anything.
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A truly free market always serves to level the playing field where the best product, or in this case the best message, wins. Many legal experts predicted this would happen when the Supreme Court handed down its controversial Citizens United decision in 2010. Some even correctly said that the conservatives on the court were deliberately trying to create a more open market for campaign finance, not a smaller or more exclusive one.
The result is the unions on the Left and the corporate and wealthier interests on the Right have basically matched each other's arms race in campaign spending. The market is crowded and thus, better. Econ 101.
And, as I've written before, the millions of dollars campaign contributors spend to get access to trillions of dollars' worth of government spending is a very good investment.
And if you despise the money being spent on campaigns, your ire is misdirected. You should focus on all the money being spent by the government. After all, campaign spending is just a means to a much more lucrative end.