The Labor Day holiday marks the unofficial end of summer and the might as well be official start of the fall political campaigns. All signs are pointing to this November being very cruel to Democratic prospects of retaining control of Congress and statehouses across the country.
There’s one hard and fast rule to the game of politics and that’s don’t play if you can’t stand losing. Sooner or later you’re going to and at times badly. This feels like one of those times. All the polls say it. All the experts are predicting it. The things that could save the Democrats, falling unemployment and an improving economy aren’t happening.
The Democrats are going down in November. I know it, they know it and the Republicans definitely know it. The only question is how hard and far the fall will be and if it translates into control of possibly 30 governorships and both houses of Congress. Barring some serious shifts in the prevailing trends, things are not going to get a lot better for Democrats than they are now (and right now things look pretty lousy).
But even in the bleakness of the impending carnage for the Dems there’s a possible upside. I vote Democratic out of neccessity but I’m not particularly in love with these particular Democrats. Too many of them are too moderate, too cautious and too beholding to corporations and special interests. If the Dems crash and burn as they seem to be on the verge of doing what might crawl from the wreckage is a more vigorous and committed Democratic Party. I would gladly lose control of the House and the Senate if it means getting rid of some of these cowardly “Blue Dog Democrats.” These Republicans in Democratic drag are largely responsible for the watering down of healthcare reform. Purging the party of these gutless sell-outs is a trade-off I heartily endorse.
If the GOP does as well as projected, I’m looking forward to giving my conservative colleagues a hearty “congratulations” and “welcome back” to the business of actually participating in the legislative process instead of obstructing it and trying to screw President Obama at every turn.
Not that I expect anything good to come from more Republicans and less Democrats than even more gridlock. The Republicans have made it clear once in power they intend to launch a series of investigations against the Obama Administration. It’s going to be ugly, but at least the GOP loses the “Hey, we’re out of power. Don’t blame us” excuse.
The Tea Party, even if they are successful in getting some of their candidates elected to Congress, look to be less like barbarians at the gate trying to shake up the status quo than simply an even more conservative breed of Republican trying to join the status quo. I think there is very little hope that once elected they too won’t be successfully sucked into the sphere of influence of the only permanent power center in the Beltway, the K Street lobbyists.
As the Tea Party demands ideological purity from the Republicans it also drags them further from the middle ground to the extreme. It’s already cost the GOP two incumbent senators (Robert Bennett in Utah and Sarah Palin’s nemesis, Lisa Murkowski in Alaska) and forced several supposed “moderates” such as John McCain to tack to the Right to survive a primary fight to keep his seat. McCain, hoping for a repeat of 1996, has suggested the GOP needs a second Contract On…(sorry, Freudian slip)…With America.
This close to the election, there’s no time to come up with one and as far as the GOP is concerned, not much a need to start getting specific about what exactly it is they will do differently once they’re back in control.
Oh sure, we’ll see renewed efforts in making the Bush tax cuts made permanent and maybe even some attempts at rolling back parts of health care reform, but the best thing the Republicans have going for them (and maybe the only thing) is they aren’t Democrats.
If things play out the way our friends in the GOP and Tea Party expect they will in November, we will see if they have anything in mind beyond witch hunts, score settling and turning the clock backward. If that’s all they have on the agenda (and I think it is), I can’t think of what would better re-energize Democrats and turn off independents than a sharp and hard right turn with the intention of greasing the skids for a President Palin in 2012.
The Dems are on their way to a humbling in the fall or a major blood-letting, but they could be on their way to returning to relevance if the Republicans overreach. The unpopularity of the Democrats shouldn’t be confused as a rekindled romance with the Republican Party. 2010 looks like a vote against one group of politicians and not for another.
The best hope Democrats have for a rebound in 2012 could be the Republicans reminding voters why they threw them out in the first place. The political winds that appear to be blowing the Dems out of power could just as easily shift and blow them back in if the Republicans expend their energies in bedeviling Obama instead of solving problems.