Don't be too quick to count out the Democrats in November

Final pre-election visit by Barack Obama to Iowa.

Image by IowaPolitics.com via Flickr

When Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown came from nowhere to win the state’s special U.S. Senate election, pundits pronounced health care dead.  That’s worth keeping in mind when you read the dire pronouncements and predictions by pundits and political analysts alike about the prospects for the Democratic Party come November.

Yes, political polls today show a furious public, eroding support for the president and the promise of a serious “throw the bums out” vote in the midterm elections. All bode badly for Democrats. Add to that a still sputtering economy, unemployment stuck in the mud above 9 percent, state and local governments continuing to cut budgets (and jobs), foreclosures continuing to rise and no clear path out of this mess, and the picture starts to look even more ominous.

Except:

1. The Republican Party has yet to offer any cogent alternatives to a mess that — keep in mind — it got us into.  No, Barack Obama can no longer blame George W. Bush or the Republicans for this administration’s lack of traction in turning around the country. But he can occasionally remind us who got us stuck neck deep in the mud. Even Americans don’t forget everything that quickly.

2. Ever since Scott Brown’s election, Barack Obama has emerged as a more forceful and confident president. As Republicans begin to buckle in opposing financial regulation, it’s clear that Obama — not Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele or Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — is in the driver’s seat. He and the Democratic leadership are showing a new found willingness to challenge Republicans rather than plead for their nonexistent bipartisanship.  That toughness may bolster Democrats in the battle over a new Supreme Court nominee and future legislation. As Obama defines himself as a president of action, the Republicans’ party of “no” will look that much more like the emperor pronouncing a need for new fashions in government even as it parades around with no clothes on.

3. The Tea Party movement is pushing the Republican Party further and further to the right and may, in some places, fracture it. For John McCain to announce, “I never considered myself a maverick,” is so preposterous, it deserve more a snort than a chuckle. Florida’s centrist and popular governor, Charlie Christ, is being forced from his party even as some polls show him to be the leading candidate in a three-way race for the U.S. Senate.  He may well end up running as an independent. And people like  Tea Party Express Chairman Mark Williams regularly undercut that movement’s claim to be merely anti-tax and pro-smaller government by vilifying the president as an anti-American muslim or worse (who, by the way, they disagree with on policy only, not because he’s black).

Notes The Boston Globe of Williams, “his incendiary remarks, which include long-discredited assertions, have alienated some Republicans and Tea Party members, and raised fears that such extreme rhetoric will marginalize the movement and undercut its momentum.” (On his blog, The Globe reports, Williams has called the president “an Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug.” That, it strikes me, is just one small reason, along with the litany of “Barack HUSSEIN Obama’s” from the podium and racist taunts against Congressmen during the health care vote, why all those signs proclaiming “I am not a racist”  at the recent Boston Tea Party rally rang  rather hollow.)

4. In the end, the Obama administration may turn out to have played the expectations game deftly when it warned recently that unemployment actually might creep upward as more people come back into the workforce. In Massachusetts last month, it ticked downward .2 percent from 9.5 to 9.3.   And the International Monetary Fund reported this week that the international economy is recovering at a faster rate than expected, though it warned that mounting debt could hinder advanced economies.

Come November, James Carville’s dictum in the 1992 presidential campaign likely will still hold true: “It’s the economy, stupid.”  Still, my personal guess is that if the administration can coax unemployment below 8 percent by election day, it will be able to mount a credible case that the country is headed in the right direction.

Admittedly that remains a big “if.”  And even then, barring a remarkable and unforseen economic turnaround, Democrats will lose seats in the House and Senate come November as is typical of the party of the president in midterm elections. But I’ll lay odds those losses will be something considerably less than the Armageddon Republicans are dreaming about.

Republicans may well succeed in ousting Harry Reid in Nevada and four or five other senators. They may take over a couple of dozen House seats.  But I don’t believe they’ll succeed in intimidating the president, or taking control of either house of Congress.  And unless Republicans as a party start offering up something other than hate and opposition, their support will erode even faster with a frustrated and angry citizenry than it’s managed to rebound since the 2008 election.

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About jerrylanson

I teach, write, coach and sing, though you're not required to listen to the latter. I'm a journalism professor at Emerson College in Boston. My third book, "Writing for Others, Writing for Ourselves," was published in November by Rowman & Littlefield Publishing. You can read a sample chapter at www.jerrylanson.com. My passions are politics (generally liberal in outlook), music, mountains, golden retrievers and my grandchildren, though not in that order. Please stop by and mix it up with me. I always answer those who post.
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6 Responses to Don't be too quick to count out the Democrats in November

  1. leonkelly says:

    Good advice for the GOP. Keep in mind that the real threat to America is aimed at us like a loaded double-barreled shotgun. Both parties are whores to big corporations, banksters, and their legions of lobbyist pimps in Washington.

  2. andylevinson says:

    No doubt the millions of people Obama has caused to lose their jobs and homes will be rushing to the polls to vote for democrats……all the democrats have to do is come up with some niffty catch phrase like :hope and change

    How do you say hope and change spanish

    • victormata says:

      …because the GOP has nothing to offer but fear and hate. And making bigoted remarks kinda cements that claim.

      “Esperanza y cambio,” by the way.

    • Jerry Lanson says:

      The job LOSS, I suspect, had zero to do with Obama. It results from reckless loan policies that have left the wreckage of home foreclosures and, under that last fellow in the White House, brought us to the brink of depression during the campaign. But it’s convenient for the Republican Party to forget that. Obama perhaps can be blamed for not getting out of the recession faster. I agree with Paul Krugman, myself, that we should have invested much more in really needed work rebuilding he country’s infrastructure. That, of course, would have meant a bigger stimulus package, which would have meant a tougher fight for a new president. I believe that’s been Obama’s major failure to date but suspect you’d disagree.

  3. Pingback: Incumbents, beware: And that means Republicans, too - Jerry Lanson - News Prints - True/Slant

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