By Don Klein
Are the Democrats really headed for a fall at this November’s midterm elections? At lot of pundits seem to think so, which makes anyone who thinks differently subject to heaps of ridicule.
I may be putting my crystal ball in mortal danger but I am going to tell you why I think Obama’s party will not only retain control of both houses of Congress, but could actually improve their numbers in one or both of them.
There are four reasons skeptics contend the Dems will falter this election:
1. The party in power traditionally loses seats in off-year elections.
2. The economy is bad, joblessness is rife and the public thinks a change in the Washington power grid will work wonders.
3. The Republicans have played a callous anti-Democratic routine from the first day of this administration thwarting many positive programs with their negative stance, especially in the Senate.
4. There is a not too subtle campaign on the part of his bottom feeding detractors to appeal to the lowest possible denominator to smear Obama with ugly racial innuendoes.
I have a slightly different take on these assumed undeniable political consequences. I think at least three of these four maxims are refutable.
To begin with, the economy is bad and lots of people are out of work but I doubt if the public is so simple-minded they hold Obama to blame for the fiasco. Everyone who votes this November was around during the 2001-2009 period when the country was handed over to the big money people.
It was during the Bush administration that Wall Street was given an unregulated hand in doing whatever it pleased to make a profit no matter what it cost the rest of us. They took the regulatory policeman off the beat during that time and, in doing so, induced the horrendous financial meltdown with which we are still suffering.
By the same token I doubt if the majority if Americans are satisfied with the disreputable behavior of the GOP in the Senate by threatening endless filibusters on every piece of corrective legislation offered. The Democratic majority was ineffective in overcoming the maneuver requiring 60 to pass anything in the Senate as long as every Republican stood shoulder-by-shoulder shaking their heads "No."
It is clear the Republicans, also known now as the "Party of No," wished to sabotage every measure designed to improve circumstances for ordinary people during this period of strife. Despite that the majority party passed a health care bill and put badly behaving Wall Street under stricter financial regulations.
With a few exceptions the Party of No put a crimp in numerous bills designed to help ordinary Americans while at the same time announced they are determined to keep alive the preposterous Bush tax cuts for the two percent of the wealthiest in the nation.
They blocked the extension of unemployment checks to those who have been out of work so long their payments had expired. They supported the Arizona immigration laws and even proposed rescinding that the 14th Amendment to the Constitutional guaranteeing citizenship to anyone born within American borders.
In those two acts alone they have antagonized two large blocs of American voters – the 25 million who either are out of work or are employed at reduced hours and the 40 million Latino population. They also ticked off that large number of first responders to the World Trade Center attacks by denying them necessary extended health coverage.
But the worst damage the Republicans have done, was to cannibalize its own. It used to be that the Democrats were such a rebellious assemblage of independent minded people that they ate their own. Now it is the GOP that seems determined to devour all Republicans who stand this side of Ivan the Terrible.
The vicious internal battle to purge all moderate Republicans (non Tea Party types) and at the same time to paint Obama as some kind of Black tyrant in charge of a "gangster" socialist government is bound to backfire. The best polls give the Tea Party bunch only 25 percent of the Republican mass. Obama’s national popularity will take care of the ugly smears. You cannot win elections with only a smidgen of your base behind you.
Also you cannot win elections by always being against something. You need a positive plan and most of all you need an acceptable leader. The GOP has neither, unless you consider Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck as standard bearers. We have yet to hear a single notable Republican reject any of the grotesque off-the-wall comments made by these two Right Wing gargoyles.
Finally the Dems can point with pride to the passage of the first Health Care bill in history, the avoidance of a serious depression by massive bailouts, the salvaging of the automobile industry and the enactment of legislation to control Wall Street from onerous behavior. All with little help from Republicans.
The Republicans by their deliberate action (or inaction) have made the first two years of the Obama Administration a one party show. They can claim no victories. They did nothing for the public. Anything positive that occurred was accomplished by Democrats.
With all this, the acclaimed political factor that the party in power always takes a hit during the first mid-term election is the only thing that stands in the way of a solid Democratic victory this year. But thanks to Republican intransigence on so many important issues, even that principle may go by the boards. We will see soon enough.