Two down, two to go

by Lou on November 9, 2006

This week’s election had a little something for everyone. For the Dems, it was a chance to recapture both houses of Congress, though their triumph seemed more a case of disenchantment with Bush’s policies than a ringing endorsemnt of their own.

For Republicans, it’s a chance to stand back and not have to do the heavy lifting any longer. Now that the Dems control Congress, driving the train is their job.

For Libertarians like me, this election showed weaknesses in both major parties and a lot of people who don’t want anyone telling them that they shouldn’t be playing poker on their own time and money discovered their own libertarian tendencies they might not have even realized.

But the good news in all of this, regardless of what party you support, is this: If you are a poker player, two of your least favorite members of congress won’t be around any longer, and that’s a good thing.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is leaving the Senate for a run at the Republican nomination for President. If the Republicans are smart, they’ll take note of the fact that some of their anti gaming buddies did not do as well as expected in this week’s elections, and that’s probably due to grass roots efforts aimed at striking back at the late night, no recorded vote, passage of the disingenuous Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act. If the Republicans still nominate Bill Frist, they might just as well hand the White House over to the Dems. Frist is now damaged goods.

Jim Leach was defeated. Here’s a guy who is generally a moderate Republican, but couldn’t hold his seat when he really should have been able to. I’m not sure of all the factors that led to his stunning defeat, but I’ve got to believe that his desires to ban online gaming had a lot to do with it.

Jon Kyl keeps his seat. But he won by a much smaller margin than expected. Although he was never in real trouble for reelection, the margin by which he won was a lot smaller than it probably would have been had he not been so virulently anti gambling, and so willing — if not eager — to violate the traditional Republican philosophies of small government, personal liberty, and a policy of non-intrusion into people’s personal lives. It’s actually hard for me to believe that Kyl is from Arizona, the home of Barry Goldwater. Goldwater’s book, The Conscience of a Conservative, described a brand of conservatism that is the polar opposite of the kind of “governemnt knows best” conservatism espoused by Mr. Kyl.

Bob Goodlatte is still around, and there’s not much we can do about it. His district is so very safe that he can take any position he want to, no matter how absurd it may be, and still keep his seat.

While poker players will simply have to outwait Goodlatte, the saving grace is that for the next two years there will be gridlock in Washington. With a Republican president and both houses of Congress controlled by the Democrats, nothing will get done.

That’s why the stock market rallied on the election news. The business community knows that a divided house means fewer restrictive laws passed, less regulation of the business community, and that was reflected in the overall recent market gains.

It means pretty much the same thing for poker players too. Both houses of congress will try to find some way out of the Iraq quagmire, and that will leave little time for the kind of moralistic pandering we saw for the last year or so.

The good news is that Congress might just do for the next two years what they should have done for the past six: Leave us the hell alone.

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