Can the Democrats recover before November? - Macleans.ca
 

Can the Democrats recover before November?

With the economy mired in a slow recovery, the Republicans are on ideal ground—voters are angry and pessimistic


 

Can the Democrats recover before November?Some Democrats are growing increasingly inclined to concede the House to the GOP, as the edge in enthusiasm for the Republicans has seemed to widen since last week’s primaries. Clearly, the Republicans are on a roll and talk of a wave election has now become the norm. But wave elections rarely occur 70 days before the vote.

The Republicans deserve credit for doing what any opposition party wanting to recover from a devastating defeat has to do: they must be on the attack against the governing party, do little to cooperate, and exploit the mood if it favours them. With the economy mired in a slow recovery, the Republicans are on ideal ground—voters are angry and pessimistic.

Meantime, the Democrats continue to blame the Bush administration and are essentially running the campaigns of 2006 and 2008. This strategy can be effective, but its effectiveness is limited by the fact voters still do not feel the economic recovery in their daily lives. Moreover, the political climate has changed. The Democrats are at the mercy of the problems they inherited, especially since voters haven’t seen or felt noticeable change, especially on the employment front.

It’s true the Republicans have not warmed to bipartisanship along the way. They opposed the stimulus, shifting gears to criticize it as “big government,” with some going as far as calling Obama a “socialist.” They knew all along that Obama’s promise of a new politics of dialogue and bipartisanship would be impossible without their cooperation. From my years of experience with the British parliamentary system in Quebec and Canada, I was not surprised to see GOP strategists take a page out of that playbook, where party line and party discipline are sacred. Some moderate Republicans who strayed from the pack ended up being challenged by Tea Party candidates.

This being said, the moroseness of some Democrats will turn their pessimism into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Listening to the cable news shows, you can easily get the impression that some Democrats have thrown in the towel. Unless the Democrats begin to fight for what they believe in, defend what they have done in power, and offer a compelling vision of why they want to stay in power, they will suffer a crushing setback come November.

Mid-term elections usually have a lot to do with local issues, but most would agree the economy will be the dominant factor this November. Between now and then, Obama should stay on the theme of “jobs, jobs, jobs,” concede there is no quick fix, and avoid the Pollyanna rhetoric. He must also show his commitment to fiscal responsibility and do what has to be done to protect the economic security of U.S. citizens. Above all, his message will have to be focused. It may not be enough to rejuvenate the base, but it will offer a coherent message that could ultimately resonate in November. After all, voters rejected Republican economic policies less than two years.

Most observers will agree that this is a very activist administration and Congress, so Democrats have achievements they can go out and sell. They may not fit the Republican agenda, but that was not the reason for their victories in the first place in 2006 and 2008. They won because voters wanted change and they knew what it was they were voting for.

To their credit, Republicans seem to have a plan for victory and have stayed on message. For the Democrats to recover, they will have to be proud and vocal about their accomplishments in healthcare, education, the economy, financial regulation, the revival of the domestic car industry, foreign policy, and more. This is a much more attractive message than just attacking Bush’s policies. Otherwise, November could be when the unraveling of the Democratic agenda begins in earnest. That prospect, in itself, should be enough to wake up the Democrats.


 

Can the Democrats recover before November?

  1. 'It took nearly a decade to dig the hole that we're in.'

    Barack Obama at a recent press conference.

    And so the whining continues. It just makes him look impotent and petulant.

    The dems would do well to take Parisella's advice.

    • Hey, I agree!

  2. First midterms are a referendum on the President. Democrats may as well say "bye-bye" to the House.

    • First midterms are a referendum on the economy.

      • Not just the economy, rather the President's handling of the economy among other issues (Health care for example).

        • Every president since Nixon lost a large amount of seats in the house on their first mid-term. Not surprising. Certainly no death knell for Obama as some right wingers would hope.

  3. Does it matter?

    No.

    • it sure does Emily . A defeat here could be the beginning of the end for Obama. Means Palin could run.

      • Nah, I meant without a party system it doesn't matter who's there. 'Blue dog Democrats' gave Obama more trouble than Repubs.

        Plus, whichever party is in the WH, the US is still going down. It won't matter who's left without a chair when the music stops.

        Palin won't get in, won't even run. She's made over $12M this year doing nothing. And there are far too many ambitious men in the background for her to get through anyway.

        • not sure you understand politics,Emily. This woman scares me And stop being so pessimistic onthe USA.

          • I've been in office, so be scared on your own.

            I'm a realist TJ…flag-waving doesn't pay the bills.

          • Dogcatcher?

          • Trust you to think in American terms.

          • Emily ,Understand jarrid . He may have a point . You are too anti American and fail to see the Palin threat .

          • Only at the top of his head.

            Being 'anti- or pro American' has nothing to do with seeing non-existent threats.

          • TJ, I agree with you, she is a scary person, the female version of Dick Cheney, but even if she runs, she won't be the republican nominee.

  4. The question is this – should Obama suffer a significant setback, does he pull a Clinton and move to the right? Clinton's "triangulation" post 1994 saved his Presidency, but he was a Southern Democrat who was comfortable moving to the right. Obama is a much more orthodox northern Democrat who is already under pressure from the party base.

  5. Dems are afraid to talk about the health care law because it's just as unpopular as when they passed it, even more so according to some polls. The stimulus has an equally negative perception, with Americans worried about massive deficits and accumulating debt.

    Therefore, that leaves them the tactic of repeating the 2006/2008 campaigns and blaiming Bush, which does not hold much promise. You cannot run against an opponent that was defeated two years ago, and in fact the Republicans lost the house a full four years ago.

    The Dems have nothing to run on.

    • they should not be afraid to run on heathcare .Over 30million were uninsured and many refused because of pre existing conditions.s_c_f is attacking without facts.

        • It is called 'principle' ,something conservatives know little about .

          • It's called 'losing the upcoming election'.

  6. "With the economy mired in a slow recovery, the Republicans are on ideal ground—voters are angry and pessimistic."

    GOP policies are the reason why the US is in this economic mess and it is the GOP that stands to regain power?

    You have to wonder about the stupidity of people sometimes. I spent two hours arguing with a group of Americans because they firmly believe that it was Obama who enacted the big bailout of banks and insurance companies under TARP, and not Bush.

    Ignorance and stupidity are the reason why the GOP will regain control of the House (and maybe even the Senate) in a few months.

    • i completely agree poljunkie.. but all this stuff i hear on the news about the dems bloodbath in nov dont seem to correspond with what i hear around me. Maybe its cause i live in upstate ny but I really dont believe the american people are that stupid to reelect idiots to office. The stimulus package for example is going to make obama a hero in 10 years after I read what it was doing to our economy by transforming it!!

      • "Maybe its cause i live in upstate ny but I really dont believe the american people are that stupid to reelect idiots to office."

        We are talking about the same people who re-elected Bush when it was clear as day that he had lied about the WMDs in Iraq and Saddam's involvement in 9/11? The same people who are reported to believe Obama to be muslim?

      • Well, I hope noit. It is absolutely astounding to me that the US would elect the Bush Regime, even though he is not there, they are the same old people in Congress., aren't they?

        • Yes, they are. A lot of them are very scary people to have in a position of power, they are mini Dick Cheney's.

          • You make so much sense , Claudia. Emily fails to understand the threat of Republicans taking over Congress.

          • Agreed!

  7. "Otherwise, November could be when the unraveling of the Democratic agenda begins in earnest."

    can't wait.

    • kerry is not the sharpest knife in the drawer . The Republicans created the mess . Tax cuts under Reagan ,the Bushes create deficits . Wars underfinanced create deficits . Kerry can't wait to go back to this . See what I mean -NOT SMART !!

      • Yup, nothing to do with giving mortgages to people who absolutely could not afford them. By the way, that's what the democrats did. Unfortunately for Bush it happened on his watch, but it was a problem started by liberals and their "belief" that everyone "should have housing," neverminding the reality of reality.

        • Unfortunately you are only telling one side of the story.

          The idea behind expanding mortgages had less to do with actual "housing for all" (property arrangements notwithstanding), and more to do with an ideological premise that increased home ownership would be good for society and the economy in general because home owners would be more responsible, would provide better neighbourhood security, etc. Home ownership became the de facto qualification for being middle class. Government policy and spending to encourage home ownership goes back in earnest to post war suburban development.

          You can focus in on the Clinton administration, but just as much blame goes around to Reagan and Thatcher's brand of 'property owning democracy'. Never mind the fact that ownership was a mirage of debt. The point is that the history of F Mae and F Mac is complicated., and hardly reducible to party politics or a generic left / right divide.

  8. Oh really, and just what are the repukelikans going to do when they get the house back or the presidency for that matter?

  9. How can democrats fight for what they believe in, when what they believe in is the failed ideology of liberalism? It's understandable they are where they are; defending the indefensible is never easy.

    • failed ideology ?conservatives opposed every civil rights law , lied about Iraq,deregulated the financial industry , widened the gap between rich and poor , exaggerated the culture , created HUGE deficits under Bush and Reagan . That is what they want America to go back to. That IS FAILURE !

      • I'm talking about real conservative values, like the ones espoused by the Tea Party. Not people who claim to be "conservative" and then spend like a liberal. It's about keeping spending in check, not going into wild deficits (like Obama is now, far worse than Bush did). Flat taxes, where everyone is taxed a certain percentage completely regardless of their income, is just one example of the truest freedoms civilized society can provide.

        The ideology of liberalism, which is to tax and spend, is the ideology of those in power. The only way to be free from their clutches is to not let the only possible tool get it's claws into our lives, which is the power of the government. We need a humble leader that understands government cannot be the solution to every problem and remains humble enough to follow through.

        • you avoid the question . Conservatives want to reduce taxes and still spend. And to restrict freedoms of individuals . Why is it that their rhetoric feels like a return to good ol' days and good ol'boys?Name one project that promotes civil rigts and gay rights coming from conservative ideology.

          • I don't know what you're talking about, real conservatives don't want to spend your money on any socialist pet projects, we want people to simply be able to live their lives as they wish without government telling them do this do that. If a "conservative" borrows and spends, that is not a conservative action.

            As for your rights? Well, how about the right for everyone to keep what they earn? In a truly free society founded on a strong constitution, you don't need any more "rights" than what is enshrined in the constitution. When you start increasing "rights" beyond that, you're simply forcing government to get involved more in people's lives.

          • the top 2% got some great tax breaks ,better than anyone . And kept millions in their pockets . Look at Blankfein at goldman's. What you fail to address is human and civil rights . Here the conservative record including Gitmo is shameful . At least , liberals figt for those civil and human rights .

      • Bush was not a conservative fiscally, only socially. He was a statist. No different than the big gov dems only opposite on the social spectrum. What the US needs is a real Republican; small government, capitalist, free marketer. Historically it was the Republicans that were voted in to end wars the Democrats started…

        Ron Paul for Prez!

    • 'Conservatives against rent seeking' would have a lot more plausibility if it was grounded in actual practice.

  10. the republicans are shameless, hypocritical bigots who got USA in the mess they are in .
    What ARE THEY PROPOSING TO MAKE THINGS BETTER ? NOTHING . They do not care about the country . Just beating Obama .

    • And don't forget it; it IS the Tea Party that is driving this election. Not the Democrats, not the Republicans, but the PEOPLE of the Tea Party. They are the source of all the momentum. They do not any longer trust the liberal media, they don't care about half-truths or political correctness. They only care about the reality, which can only be truly judged by what you're allowed to keep in your wallet. The more the government opens up your wallet, the less freedom you have. That's all it boils down to and the people, who sprang up this Tea Party Revolution, are going to show America who the government truly works for.

      • I have attended Tea Party rallies ,Ryan . They are angry ,frustrated people with no solutions. they may be driving this election but where is America going to go ? They have no leaders , they are supported financially by bigoted billionaires. they call Obama a socialist. What is the defintion of socialism ? Giving 32 million new customers to the private sector,cutting taxes on 95% of the people? You guys only want freedom for individual rich people. Bush was losing 700000 jobs a month. Obama has created as many jobs in 1 year than Bush did in 8. Compare the lies of Bush in Iraq with yesterday's speech by Obama. You NEVER answer about how conservatives oppose civil rights ,produce deficits during Bush years . WHAT THEIR SOLUTIONS ' Ryan? Give me onethat will improve the economy . I challenge you .

  11. " They won because voters wanted change and they knew what it was they were voting for."

    Your kidding right?

    • It is spelt 'You're' not 'Your' . You were saying ?