The dreaded PEST is back with a vengeance.
Post-Election Stress Trauma emerged in the U.S. in 2004 after President Bush won reelection. The symptoms included feelings of sadness, frustration, isolation, bitterness, moodiness and fear. In severe cases it elicited irrational impulses to emigrate to Canada or even France.
PEST in 2010 has mutated into the insidious TEAPEST, which stands for Tea Party Endorsement Stress Trauma. It hit Republicans in the primaries first, but that’s a tempest in a teapot compared to what Democrats face.
Whether motivated by noblesse oblige, devotion to a cause or personal aggrandizement, political candidates submit themselves to a gauntlet of public scrutiny. Overwrought with disappointment, losing candidates still manage to deliver gracious concession speeches which sooth distraught supporters and help facilitate a smooth transition of power. Magnanimity prevails, PEST has been restrained.
That’s mostly the way it used to be — politicians and supporters are more tempestuous these days.
Tea Party-endorsed candidates upset establishment Republicans in seven Senate primary races, and some of the deposed are in the throes of TEAPEST. Former Delaware governor Mike Castle, beaten by an arguably less electable Christine O’Donnell, was ungracious in refusing to congratulate or support her.
Incumbent Lisa Murkowski was ousted by Joe Miller in Alaska. She is currently wallowing in the denial phase of TEAPEST but her severe case is characterized by delusions. She actually thinks the voters of Alaska didn’t mean it so she’s pursuing an ill-fated independent write-in candidacy. Not since 1954 has someone won a write-in; besides, as required by law her name has to be spelt perfectly on the ballot. In writing this I had to check her name twice
While TEAPEST has traumatized some Republicans, it may wreak havoc upon Democrats in the general election. There is an anti-incumbent, anti-Obama tsunami cascading towards the nation’s Capitol building that will likely sweep Republicans into each chamber and flush Reid and Pelosi out of power like so much rotten flotsam.
Why? Well, with Democrats in control of Congress and the White House this election-cycle is a referendum on their policies. The election is taking a national tone and since 70% of voters say they support the Tea Party’s platform, Democrats are vulnerable to TEAPEST. In race after race Democrats are manifesting symptoms like anger and frustration by trying to divert attention from their voting records and vilifying their opponents.
Need more evidence of Democratic susceptibility? More Republicans voted in the primaries than Democrats for the fist time since the Great Depression. A poll by Gallup shows that voters who identify themselves as conservatives increased from 37% in 2008 to 42% in 2010; liberals went from 22% to 20%. 58% of working-class whites, so-called Reagan Democrats, support Republican candidates compared to 36% for Democrats. The shift in Independents toward Republicans is equally dramatic.
No wonder Democrats are experiencing cognitive distortions associated with the onset of TEAPEST. Their only defense is to distort their voting records because polls show that a wide majority of voters support the main issues the Tea Party has raised — lower taxes, less government spending and less government regulation.
A recent Fox News poll finds that 41 percent of voters will use their vote this year to express opposition to Obama’s policies, compared to 34 percent who describe their vote as expressing support. TEAPEST could be particularly virulent in the increasing number of states where president Obama’s approval rating is below 50% for he can’t immunize Democrats. According to Gallup, Obama’s average job approval rating in September 2010 was 45%.
Many Democratic candidates are desperately seeking protection from TEAPEST by concealing their original support for the ineffective stimulus bill, Obamacare and Cap and Trade. Indeed, many are running away from their leadership as much as against Republicans. Not surprising considering The Hill/ANGA poll showing that 56% of all voters want to repeal the health care law compared to only 23% of Democrats. They can run, but resistance is futile; Democrats like Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway are already succumbing to emotional confusion wrought by TEAPEST.
TEAPEST may again transmute, jeopardizing Republicans in 2012 if they fail to deliver on their “Pledge to America.” For now, the Tea Party has remained under the Republican umbrella – over 70 tea party candidates are on ballots this year.
Incumbent Democrats are bitter at being tea-pestered. After election night sadness will engulf many of them, some may seek professional help. I can think of no better antidote to TEAPEST than a trip to namby-pamby land escorted by the energetic “Drill Sergeant Therapist” from the Geico commercials. That should knock some fiscal sense into them; besides, it has to be better than emigrating to France.