Wednesday, November 03, 2010

What To Think About The Midterms

2010 Midterms

A somewhat larger than usual mid-term adjustment. That will be the conventional wisdom.

In 2008, the conventional wisdom was “paradigm shift,,” “transformative,” etc. In hindsight, the conventional wisdom seems to have missed the mark – widely.

What to think about 2010? First, I suspect that a year from now, the President will be under siege from the various investigations and impeachment hearings that will be launched in the House. The repeal of DADT will be a bitter pipe-dream. The government will be forced to cease any number of critical services, from food inspection to financial regulation. Veterans will be under attack from the government they were once part of. Cap-and-trade will be the Topic That Must Not Be Named, Let Alone Discussed.

Pretty much partisan politics as usual.

Two things worry me the most. The first is that the Dems continue to struggle with leadership. They are focused on good policy (which is why I like them), but they do not believe that leading the people is part of their job. They are tragically wrong. The GOP understands that many voters want someone who seems certain, even passionate, about their beliefs. They further understand that all the passion in the world won’t matter unless a voter feels it, so they shout and bang the table and make outlandish accusations, etc., all of which is loud enough to get through to persuadable voters.

The Dems sound like a round-table discussion on NPR. Their passion is no doubt real, but that authenticity lulls them into thinking that they just need to be themselves for voters to understand how committed they are.

False. Too many voters’ take-away from the Dems is “politics as usual,” a certain sense of entitlement, and a lack of commitment to what matters most.

There’s no doubt that the Dems suffer from a kind of patronizing attitude, and that this attitude is extremely off-putting. Dems also don’t understand the basics of mass communication, often choosing worthy candidates in terms of their positions, work ethic, etc., but who are not telegenic or likable. Nor do they understand basic negotiating techniques, like starting with a position more extreme than what they would ultimately accept. The GOP uses their base for this purpose very effectively, while the Dems seem ashamed of their base. The Dems will need to address these concerns before they can expect a wide embrace of their platform.

Besides the continuing failure of the Dems to understand the need to be seen as fighters, the other concern coming out of 2010 is the impact of corporate cash. For Karl Rove & Co., this was a warm-up. And the experiment is continuing – to qualify for their tax-free status, more than half their funds are supposed to be spent on non-electoral activity, which means they are planning a big ad blitz in the coming months to overturn health care reform and financial regulation. In terms of 2012, Rove will have a compelling argument that investing with him will return good dividends, and I’d be surprised if the GOP didn’t have more or less unlimited money in 2012.

We are on the verge of a new, corporate era of politics. The rules for 2012 will be different. And the corporate interests now believe (correctly) that their ability to spend will bring them subservient pols.

My guess is that the GOP will increase their edge in the House, take the Senate, and almost get the White House in 2012, provided they are running against Obama. If he has been forced from office (or, God forbid, worse), the GOP will likely have no trouble with either Biden or whoever the Dems end up fielding.

It is always disturbing to see otherwise sensible people falling for the Big Con that is today’s GOP. I don’t see any reason to think this basic dynamic is going to be changing any time soon. The march of the United States of America towards third world status will continue with renewed vigor. And the shame is those most responsible will be cheered as deficit-cutting, tax-cutting heroes, and not as simply sadistic bastards, which is what far too many of them really are.

No comments: