Election 2009: Rejecting the Big Boys, Again

Maybe I'm crazy, or just jealous, but my favorite—and I think most emblematic—contest this Election Day was the mayor's race in New York City. Billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, despite spending more than $100 million of his own money, ended up in the race of his life against a relative unknown named William Thompson.

What does that have to do with Republican victories in the governor's race in Virginia and New Jersey? Well, everything. Americans (and certainly those few who voted in this off year) are still mad at the Big Boys, whether they are in Washington or on Wall Street, or, in the case of New York City, down at City Hall. Voters see the Big Boys getting their bonuses again, or getting their gold-plated health care, or spending the voters' tax money like it’s rainwater in the rainforest, and they are angry at the System—as angry as they were when they plucked a skinny guy named Obama out of obscurity and made him the exalted 44th president of the United States.

Those who argue that there is no national significance in these election results are right in one sense: they don't necessarily presage what is going to happen in 2010, let alone 2012. If Obama and his advisers are smart, they will go to school on this disaster and figure out how to avoid it next year. But this is a warning to the president: you better shake things up—give us real reform—or your presidency may go from coronation to condemnation. It simply won't do for Obama to run a "bowling with bundlers" White House. People wanted something different—a real reformation.