Friday, August 27, 2010

The Strike Returns: What is Wrong with the Democratic Party?

Good afternoon! After a month long absence, I am back to write an entry for this blog. In the meantime, thanks to The Big Picture for his thoughtful entry on the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" which I agree with wholeheartedly.

I was intending to write today about the state of the elections this fall, but I feel like to do that, I have to provide a little context. As things stand right now, I think the Republican Party is on track to regain control of the House of Representatives, and has a reasonable chance of taking over the Senate. I base these projections on the myriad of polls I've seen from individual races, including internal polls from both parties, as well as the GOP's steady leads in the generic congressional ballot. As you can see on the sidebar, I have too many "tossup" races listed to officially project control of the House, but as things stand now, the momentum is completely on the Republican side. As for the Senate, I think the Democrats could control anything between 49-54 seats.

Political scientists will tell you that the economy largely dictates the fate of the incumbent party. I think that, of course, is true this year. But there's more to the story. It's not just that the economy is bad, and getting worse. It's that the Democratic Party is handling the economic downturn in the worst possible way.

Democrats in Congress have passed some small measures to help get the economy back on track. But they have not shown any push or urgency in getting more jobs bills through. It's not just about improving the current jobs picture (which will be difficult to do before the November elections). It's also about showing people that the government is still competent to play a role in growing the economy and restoring prosperity to the middle class. Yes, I get that Republicans have been obstructionists. But it almost seems like the Democrats aren't even trying. Have you seen any Democrat, including the President, talk at all in the past three weeks about the urgency of acting to get the economy back on track? Have you seen any Democrat, including the President, articulate at any point in the last year exactly what we need to do to get the economy on track, and why we need to do it? It's been, frankly, disgusting to me that President Obama has been golfing and vacationing in Martha's Vineyard, while not offering a peep about the constant barrage of disturbing economic data. He has also made the CRUCIAL mistake of dilly dallying on his Federal Reserve nominees. The inaction of the Federal Reserve during the recent spate of bad economic news is just as troublesome as Congress' inability to act.

It's equally disturbing that despite the economic catastrophe unfolding, Democrats didn't consider cutting short the 6 week Congressional recess to, at the very least, show that they actually care about average Americans.

It's not just their silence that's problematic. The Democratic party has completely conceded the economic policy debate to the Republicans. I have seen more Democrats in the last month call for an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich than I've seen advocate any liberal policy prescription, like a larger state-aid bill, public works projects, and cuts to the payroll tax. I've even seen many Democrats, like 10 of them, run advertisements trashing their own party while touting themselves as an "independent voice." If poll numbers show that the public prefers failed Republican policy solutions, Democrats have chosen not to articulate their position, but rather to bow to poll-crazy political consultants. Democrats across the country seem to think that they can only win by trashing their own party and succumbing to failed Republican economic policies.

This election is going to be brutal, there's little doubt about that at this point. But this is about so much more for the Democratic Party, and President Obama. When are Democrats going to realize that we can only win by fighting and advocating for the interest of the middle class? When the middle class sees that we're not out there fighting for them passionately and intelligently, they're not going to vote for us. When the middle class sees us trashing our own philosophy and ideals, they're going to think there's something serious wrong with us, and will probably never vote for our side again.

It may be too late for Democrats to change the fundamental direction of the upcoming election, but they can at least they should get their heads above water and get back to defending the core Democratic principle: doing what needs to be done to give hope, security and prosperity to working Americans.

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