A right old election
A clear shift in power occurred in the midterm elections when Republicans seized control of the House and made major inroads into the Senate. This outcome is a harsh and dramatic "red flag" to the Obama presidency. However, The Golden State of California stood out as one of the two states that remained staunchly Democrat, with some significant legislative decisions being made. The race for the governor was a highly publicized and theatrical event. Republican Meg Whitman pumped approximately $160 million into her campaign – to no avail. She was defeated by Democrat Jerry Brown who served as California governor 28 years ago.
"So the journey is ending, but our mission is not," said Whitman after her loss. "We did not achieve the victory we worked so hard for. But that is not a reason to give up on what's most important. I believe if we all work together to demand change from Sacramento, a new California will rise."
Barbara Boxer, a fellow Democrat, was re-elected and will begin her fourth six-year term. She defeated Carly Fiorina, her Republican counterpart and former Hewlett-Packard CEO.
Among California's decisions was the eco-friendly statement made by rejecting Proposition 23, which would have stalled the progress of the environmental regulations set by AB 32. AB 32 put the reduction of green house gases into law in 2006.
California continued the prohibition of marijuana by rejecting Proposition 19. Had it passed it would have permitted the growth and consumption of marijuana for anyone 21 or above.
The future of this forbidden crop is not entirely cloudy. Nine California cities passed proposals for the taxation of the plant for medicinal purposes.
In addition, the possession of marijuana will be the equivalent to a traffic ticket in California thanks to SB 1449, which was signed Oct.1 by lame duck governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. This law will take effect Jan. 1 and less than an ounce will be a $100 fine with no court appearance or arrest record.
The rest of the country witnessed a dramatic swing right as the political mood of the country became clear. In the Senate, Democrats lost six seats to the Republicans – a change that narrowed the gap between the parties but meant that Democrats still maintained control.
Democrats lost 60 seats in the House of Representatives with Republican claiming overall control. Republicans now have the task of choosing a speaker for the House, with Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner fully expected to assume this position.
Nancy Pelosi is expected to remain on – but as speaker for the House minority. However, there appears to be a growing insurgency among Democrats to see Pelosi removed from this position.
"Following the loss of our majority, we should fully understand the causes of our historic losses before we begin the process of rebuilding. If we do not learn from our losses we will remain in the minority until we do learn," Democratic Representatives Marcy Katpur of Ohio and Peter DeFazio of Oregon wrote to colleagues.
This further polarization between the parties will be a serious impediment to Obama when he hopes to pass through the House his next round of bills, with Republicans and Tea Partiers sure to railroad any measures that even hint at expanding the already broad reach of the government.
After 16 months of Obama's presidency, many see the latest elections as more of a referendum on his effectiveness as president. How he reacts is sure to have the country and world on tender hooks.