Monday, November 10, 2014
Assessing the Republican Victory
Two years ago, I bragged about Obama's win. I called it the last high-water mark for Republicans.
I was wrong. There was one more high point to achieve.
In my defense, I did say that the only thing the Republicans would win from now on is a mid-term election or two. That's exactly what this was. Still, it was a solid loss for Democrats, no doubt about it.
But before the neo-cons get too braggadocious, before the liberals wallow away their sorrow by drinking loads of Irish coffee and binging on gluten-free pop-tarts, let's all take a deep breath and really assess what's been won by Republicans and lost by Democrats, because neither is all that substantial in the long run. And by the long run, I mean two years from now.
Here's what the Republicans have won: Control of the Senate. This means controlling which bills come up for a vote in the other congressional house. That means that the gridlock we had in Congress now extends to the Senate as well. Why? Because they still don't have the Presidency. As long as that remains the case, the veto pen will be the only thing that will rule. There will be no end to the gridlock. It's now been made even griddier-lockier.
What else have they won? Well, a bunch of governors races, none of which really make much difference with Democrat-controlled representatives. They've gained more seats in the House, which also changes nothing. In the final analysis, this is not the "tidal wave" that pundits pretend it to be.
They've certainly won the center stage, though. Which sets things up splendidly for infighting and internal squabbles. No clear Republican front-runner is apparent in the prospective 2016 presidential race, and that means that there's going to be as much grandstanding as there will be backstabbing. Had Democrats retained control of the Senate, Republicans could have put on a fresh-face by 2016 and made an appeal to the center. But that option is now gone. Republicans will not be able to say that Democrats have been running the show for eight years and that it's time for a change. No, they will have been running the entire congress for two years, and will have demonstrated the comedy of errors we all know they are prone to when they get this many of their own number together in one place.
Here's a prediction: Under the Democrats, the Senate very nearly exercised a nuclear option to change Senate rules to prevent the absurd number of filibusters from taking place. They came to the brink of this option, and then, when their opponents were solidly under-foot, they let them go! That decision will now come back to haunt Democrats as they will, undoubtedly, be the ones filibustering everything. And you can bet your ass that Republicans will not hesitate to curtail the filibustering they so frequently resorted to! I say, that's just as well. The rule should have been changed in the first place. And lack of filibustering will simply make the Republicans look worse.
This was not a victory. This was the opposition running up the score in 4th quarter "garbage time." Which is an apt analogy, seeing as how the Dems played a prevent-defense during the entire campaign.
Which brings me to my next point: If Democrats lost for any one reason, it was because they abandoned their biggest asset: Our Trophy President, Barack Obama. I mean, unemployment is low, the stock market is high, 200,000 or more jobs have been added every month over the last six years, and Obamacare is working. And Obama has done all this in spite of relentless and hateful opposition! This was not a president to run away from! But every Democratic candidate did, to the point of not even speaking Obama's name on the campaign trail, or refusing to acknowledge that they even voted for him in the last election!
Yes, Barack's approval rating was only 42%. But you know what? The reason that number was so low was largely due to the Democratic strategy of running away from Obama in the first place! When voters see candidates refusing to have anything to do with Our Trophy President, they simply assume that he's been that abysmal a failure. 'I mean, his own people are abandoning him, so he must be a screw-up, right?' Wrong! The poor numbers were a reflection of the mistaken Democratic strategy, which then became a self-fulfilling prophecy! After all, treat a man like a skunk, and people will assume he smells bad, even if he smells like a rose. What madness! No, we still have the greatest president I can remember having in my lifetime. And I would like to be the first to call for the head of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and every other Democratic Party "strategist" who ran this campaign. Fire them all!
The smart thing to do was to shift tactics when they saw that Obamacare was working. They could have rallied around Our Trophy President, driven up his approval rating dramatically, and cruised to the finish line. If they didn't achieve outright victory, at least they could have avoided total defeat! But when Obamacare's initial rollout resulted in numerous website difficulties and initial sign-ups for the program appeared low, the strategy was drawn up to avoid the President and Obamacare. And damn it all if they didn't stick to that game plan even when the playing field dramatically shifted, and it was obvious that it was harming their campaigns! They lost because they hitched their wagons to a falling star.
And yet, even though it would have been a good move not to abandon Obama and campaign on economic issues stemming from his resounding success in that field, let's face it: it's difficult for Democrats to make the economy a central point of their campaigns, because doing so means championing the things we know will work, such as combating income inequality and making sure that those at the top pay their fair share. But that's almost impossible to discuss in a post-Citizens' United political world. Nearly all the money comes from big corporations now, and any candidate who speaks up about getting more money away from those who need it least and into the hands of those who need it most will find themselves losing out on getting any money themselves. The need for funds gags the message. This is yet one more reason why this absurd ruling must be overturned as quickly as possible!
Still, there is hope. America IS changing! The majority of states now recognize same-sex marriage. Progressives are now smoking the marijuana they have managed to legalize in two more states and the District of Columbia. One of those two states is, surprisingly, hyper-conservative Alaska! And one more thing: The average age of the typical Republican is 69, meaning that the decrepit and rusty ball and chain will soon fall off of the nation's ankle.
So the old farts had one more blast left in their colons. So what? We still have the White House, and they're still a Clown College. The stage is now set for a Republican collapse the likes of which hasn't been seen in quite a while. I'm not sure if it means that Democrats gain back a super-majority in the Senate, but it will certainly be enough to turn things around.
I predict so, anyway.