What Democrats Must Do to Twat Republican Intentions at the November Mid-Terms
You probably have heard repeated references by pundits and pollsters or perhaps seen the headlines proclaiming the doom that they claim most certainly awaits the Democrats at the November mid-terms. Using colorful imagery, some have even foresworn the kind of electoral thrashing that only an uncontrolled, catastrophic natural force, like a mighty tsunami or a Category 4 hurricane, could unleash.
Almost always, these experts anchor their assertion with the portentous trifecta of 1) an energized and highly enthusiastic GOP base, 2) the perceptible glumness of the populace about the country’s direction, and 3) the growing general dissatisfaction with the Obama presidency.
Recent polls unanimously signify that Republicans have between an 8 to 20-point advantage over Democrats among respondents categorized either as likely voters or those perceived as expressing a heightened degree of interest in the fast-approaching elections.
A newly released CNN/Opinion Research Corporation telephone survey of 1,024 citizens revealed that 46 percent of Americans (compared to 43 percent for Congressional Democrats) feel that Republicans in Congress would do a better job handling the economy. Although the GOP's three-point edge is within the poll's sampling error, it is quite remarkable especially given that approximately a year prior, Democrats held a 52 to 39 percent advantage.
Besides, conventional wisdom contends that the party in power typically fare unfavorably at mid-term elections particularly at inclement economic times as the ones we find ourselves in these days.
But what is really going on here; why the sudden reversal of fortunes? How could this possibly be the case? How is it probable that the party that irrefutably ran this economy into a ditch and caused a near global economic meltdown could achieve such meteoric rehabilitation at the same time that it is unashamedly espousing the same very bankrupt fiscal policies that precipitated the crisis in the first place?
Is the American citizenry that dippy or memory-challenged? Or is the current state of affairs a direct consequence of that all-too-familiar streak of desultory spinelessness on the part of Democrats?
It is my position that it is more the latter than the former. Democrats appear to have most puzzlingly done a royal job of squandering or mismanaging every opportunity to make a spirited run for the contested offices during this election cycle. Where an effort has been made, it was either lack-luster or in reaction to the discourse as zealously framed by the domineering conservative media machine.
Granted that like most people, I think that, in many instances, the Obama administration frankly did not go far enough in pursuing their legislative agenda as originally conceived, quite a bit has been accomplished in a relatively short amount of time, and amidst stiff GOP opposition.
It is incontrovertible that the American economy was on free fall back in January 2009 when Obama rode into town. Mood-wise, the nation was in an acute, depressive state---key captains of industry were on the ropes, consumer confidence was in epileptic seizures and unemployment was widespread and unbridled (with the reported monthly job loss figures registering in the hundreds of thousands for months at a time).
The young administration got right down to work and quickly dispensed a cocktail of monetary/fiscal policies that the Right-wingers fervidly claimed would exacerbate the national economy and attract cost overruns that would be too injurious to the interests of future generations of Americans.
But interestingly, most economists today credit the bailout program (which at the point of inception, was easily the most discredited) with saving both the automotive industry and the entire financial sector of the economy. Almost all of the companies that benefited from this program have not only paid the money back with interest but are slowly emerging from insolvency; some have even reported record profits!
As commonly known, the stock market responded positively; stocks rebounded, gaining nearly 4,000 points in 15 months to cross the 10,000 threshold again.
Relative to the employment status of the nation, while the percentage of Americans able and willing to work but continually unemployed remain unacceptable, we have since verifiably gone from what obtained18 months ago when we were losing hundreds of thousands of jobs every month to the current situation where there has actually been a fairly consistent positive monthly job gain in the tens of thousands. Additionally, amid recurring Republican opposition, Democrats fought to extend unemployment compensation benefits to hundreds of thousands of Americans on the brink of being cut summarily.
Then there is that impressive string of legislative programmatic successes that are now impacting the lives of millions of ordinary Americans in real, direct and immediate ways---the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Actof 2009 (which expanded the rights of workers to sue employers over wage discrimination claims); the SCHIP--- State Children's Health Insurance Program---expansion Bill of2009 (which extended coverage to 4 million more lower-income children); the Credit Card Reform Bill of 2009 (which instituted the most sweeping changes the industry had seen in 40 years by adding restrictions on interest rate increases and fees and restricting the marketing of credit cards to college students); the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 (which, for the first time, gave the U.S. Food & Drug Administration the authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing, and sale of tobacco); the Health Care and Educational Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010 (which among other things, prohibits insurance companies from cutting someone off when he or she gets sick or denying coverage to a person because of pre-existing conditions, extends the cut-off age for young adults to continue to be covered by their parents' health insurance to age 27, eliminated lifetime caps on the amount of insurance an individual can have, grants seniors a rebate to fill the so-called "donut hole" in Medicare drug coverage and allows tax credits of up to 50% of employee premiums to businesses with fewer than 50 employees); the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 (which sought to infuse accountability and transparency into the financial system, to end "too big to fail," protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts, and protect consumers from abusive financial services practices).
We also witnessed the confirmation and subsequent swearing-in of Sonia Sotomayer (the first Hispanic nominee to achieve such distinction), in August 2009, and Elena Kegan (former Harvard Law Dean), in August 2010, as associate justices of the US Supreme Court.
On the international arena, with the departure in August 2010 of the last batch of US combat troops (the 14,000-member 4th Stryker Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division) from Iraq, President Obama ended Bush’s inglorious “Operation Iraqi Freedom” as promised, weeks ahead of the stipulated August 31 deadline.
Considering that the November elections are barely two months away, the Democratic Leadership must find a way to coherently and most resolutely connect with the American people on the foregoing record. The choice seems quite clear: either we allow Obama’s charge to proceed uninterruptedly by returning Democratic candidates to Washington or hitch our tent with the odd cast of Republican-Tea Party characters intent on the worst forms of subterfuge and sworn to not only reverting the country to the derided Bush years but ending civil society as we know it!