Nov 4, 2010

Election 2010 and the Aftermath. Much Will Depend on the Learning Curve of President Obama in the Next 2 Years

Probably you've heard that the GOP took control of the House in Congress in a "historic" collapse of the Dems. Nothing unusual really. In the last 80 years, in the first midterm elections the party in the White House always loses seats in Congress. Only twice there was an exception: FDR in 1934 (Great Depression), and GWB in 2002 (War time). 

The opposition is always more energized and it shows at the polls. This election was decided primarily by turnout. The economy and the perception of ineffectiveness/weak leadership were the other reasons.

Did you watch Obama's speech/analysis of this election? “We were in such a hurry to get things done that we didn’t change how things got done,” What?! No, Mr. President, the Democrats lost because:

1. The economy still sucks even though Wall Street is doing fabulously well. More importantly, you didn't explain to the public that 8 million jobs were lost before you took office; that another 3/4 of a million were lost in the first 3 months after you got into office--before your policies went into effect; that 40% of the stimulus money went to save jobs like school teachers, firefighters, and police. Needed projects to shore up our crumbling infrastructure also helped with keeping unemployment down and stimulating the economy. Same for extending unemployment benefits. Many economist have argued that your stimulus wasn't big enough.

2. That you failed to pass a health care reform bill as you had promised, because you wasted one year trying to convince Republicans to support a watered-down bill (none of them did anyway), and you gave your electoral winnings to DINOs (like Max Baucus) to gamble away. You failed to explain that even this health care bill gives coverage to millions more Americans, prevents insurance companies from capping coverage and dropping people for pre-existing conditions, and allowing students to be under their parents insurance until 27 years old. But, where's the public option? Also, most of the already insured saw their coverage premiums go up.

3. You alienated your progressive and most active political base by scorning groups that raised lots of money for you, hoped you'd end DADT, DOMA, take the country out of 2 wars and bring the troops home.  You took bad advice from people like Rahm Emanuel, who don't understand that progressives may not go to the other side but they can stay home on election day.

4. You didn't push for immigration reform. Hispanics are heavily pro-Democratic but they have to see someone fight for good, sensible, and practical reform of our broken immigration system. 

5. Do you know why you lost the independents' vote? About 20-25% of the independents are "floaters"--move from party to party within a short span of time. Some 10% can be moved by rational arguments, like reasonable people who evaluate the evidence and make a rational decision. Unfortunately, most voters aren't moved by rational arguments. They are moved by impressions, perceived results, and strong leadership.

A Different Electorate

This electorate was older, richer, and whiter. Blacks didn't come out to vote like they did in the past--their percentage in the voting public dropped precipitously. Hispanics didn't vote either in big numbers--except in Nevada! They had a reason there: Sharon Angle and her racist, xenophobic ads.

As for compromise the Dems  and the president are ready to accept, it's a dubious thing. The Repubs aren't interested; their number one priority is to make Obama one-termer! The latter already bought into their talking point: extend the Bush tax cuts. These tax cuts will go to the top 2% of Americans and will cost $1 trillion. Sure, cut the government, they say to balance the budget. First, it can't be done--enough of these deficit peacocks. Secondly, what are they going to cut? Seriously? What part of the discretionary budget will they cut? Is the defense budget on the table too? 

Compromise is part of politics. Our own political system is partly the result of a compromise. However, facts are pesky things that get in the way of an opinion. A conversation and possible compromise between rational parties should start on a factual basis. Compromising with the flat earthers by agreeing that the earth is a ..square serves no good purpose.

There are positive outcomes from this election too: The Tea Party as the spoiler to the GOP hopes of capturing the Senate. There will be a fight now between the teabaggers, their supporters and the pragmatists like Olympia Snowe (R-ME). Also, the "blue dogs" Dems were disseminated. If Obama plays it smart--like FDR did in the 1930s--he can blame the conservatives for gridlock and, more importantly, he can point out who's on whose side. Who's is promoting the interest of the people and who's promoting the interests of big business and the rich. Can't wait for another government shutdown... 

I've talked with many people who are disgusted by politics, who believe that our two corporatist parties have the same agenda and it doesn't really make a difference. I share their frustration but I don't share their conclusion. It's beyond obvious to me that elections matter. A preliminary analysis by Think Progress shows:

Here is a snapshot of the GOP Class of 2010’s extremism:


- 50% deny the existence of man-made climate change
- 86% are opposed to any climate change legislation that increases government revenue


- 39% have already declared their intention to end the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship
- 32% want to reduce legal immigration


- 91% have sworn to never allow an income tax increase on any individual or business – regardless of deficits or war
- 79% have pledged to permanently repeal the estate tax
- 48% are pushing for a balanced budget amendment

To be continued.....

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