It has been a week since the mid-term elections, which turned out just as many of us had predicted. Clearly the Republicans took full advantage of a favorable map. Their strategy was precise: the nation is stalled, not able to move in any direction, and the President is to blame. Every GOP campaign and campaigner had the same theme. Obama is the problem! Washington doesn’t work because the President is clueless. The roots of this disdain for the President will be the topic of a future column. The fact was ignored that nothing the President wanted to do could even get a hearing in the House.
But that was not the only cause of the debacle. The major culprit, in my opinion, was the Democratic party’s leadership and its disastrous strategy. No doubt all the stars were aligned against the President and his party. His favorable rating was 40%, and in some states even lower. The Republicans pounced on that fact — but so did the Democrats! Every Democratic candidate in sight distanced him/herself from President Obama. This was a serious miscalculation. You’ve got to dance with the one who brought you!
It was the loyal Democratic base that that secured his being elected twice. He put together a remarkable coalition that included long-time liberals, younger voters, labor, women, the left out and America’s growing minority population. In this election the party simply walked away from their President, who had generated the base. But they still expected these various groups to turn out on Election Day. And they were wrong — disastrously wrong. It was like a group of Majors who decided that the war could best be won if they ignored the General and his battle plan. It was a party without a leader and without an agenda.
The President had an agenda. It had been clear since the beginning of his second term—and even before
Protect the environment by solidifying the policies of the Federal agencies responsible.
- Develop a comprehensive immigration policy.
- Secure several million jobs by redefining corporate tax structures.
- Get us out of wars we never should have become involved in.
- Reevaluate our policies concerning the Near East.
- Keep America’s jobs in America.
- Expand trade agreements.
- Find ways to cover the medically uninsured.
- Develop avenues allowing all who want a higher education to be able to fund it.
- Repair America’s decaying infrastructure.
- Increase the minimum wage.
Here was the Obama platform. When the Democratic Party and its candidates distanced themselves from their leader, they distanced themselves from his agenda. If they were determined to ignore Obama’s policies, just what did their candidates run on? The main theme one heard throughout the campaign was: “Don’t confuse me with the President.” Any other political stance was almost totally missing.
And what was the Republican platform? Rescind Obamacare — which they can’t and won’t do — continue to destroy whatever his agenda happened to be, show the rest of the world just how militarily strong we are. It was difficult to find any other set of political or legislative priorities.
The upshot was that while billions of dollars used to buy the ubiquitous TV ads, which constantly assaulted the voters, there was an almost total lack of any debatable propositions. What we had was a campaign without any serious conversation about issues.
Had the Democrats supported the President instead of running away from him, the final result might not have been significantly different. But the Party would have held onto its solid base and found itself much better prepared for the 2016 Presidential election.
There is one more downside to the Republican takeover. Will the President and his remnant left in Congress simply cave in the name of compromise? And will that mean the Partly will abandon the policies President Obama tried to promulgate? For instance, will he now sign on to the Keystone XL, and just give up on the other critical environmental initiatives, with devastating results for the survival of human life on this the planet? If that is the direction the Administration decides to take, here will be one ex-Democrat.