Monday, May 30, 2011

The Coming Democratic Party Landslide of 2012?

First off, let me state the obvious--US presidential campaigns are interminable. Only diehard political junkies like myself seem to keep up with these "who's in--who out" matters at this point.   But its clear that the Republicans are sweating a bit already at what looks like a weak field heading into the next Presidential race. 

The November 2012 general election, according to CNN and anybody else with a calender is 531 days off.  And its more and more clear to me that what matters most is not just who is governing but what kind of influence from lobbying groups and campaign money generate in the leaders and Representatives we do elect.   But at the same time the success the GOP enjoyed in 2010 has led to a cavalier  attitude toward restructuring Federal programs that is not borne out by popular feeling.  As one critic put it, "Americans voted for the Republicans in 2010 because they thought the house of state  needed to be redecorated. The GOP appears to think they are commissioned to tear the whole house down to start over."


Therein lies Obama and the Democrats' opportunity.  

But we may at least have seen the "Hezbollah Wing"/tea party wing of the Republican Party alienate the mainstream American independent voter with their threats to try and default  on the national debt in the name of further tax cuts for millionaires and draconian schemes like the abolition of the Medicare Program.  Medicare is one domestic  government program that  retains popularity because of the high prices of  the medical establishment. 


The Republican obsession to deregulate and privatize everything in sight  might work on some industries, and people can be fooled over issues like banking regulation because their is so much manipulation and smoke and mirrors there.  But things like Medicare, Social Security and unemployment  insurance for the laid off worker are matters that hit home, literally.

Let's look where the public stands on Medicare Reform, to take just one example, from a recent Associated Press Poll published last week:


"In the poll, 54 percent said it's possible to balance the budget without cutting spending for Medicare, and 59 percent said the same about Social Security.

"Taking both programs together, 48 percent said the government could balance the budget without cutting either one. Democrats and political independents were far more likely than Republicans to say that neither program will have to be cut.

"The recession cost millions their jobs and sent retirement savings accounts into a nosedive. It may also have underscored the value of government programs. Social Security kept sending monthly benefits to 55 million recipients, like clockwork; Medicare went on paying for everything from wheelchairs to heart operations.

"Overall, 70 percent in the poll said Social Security is "extremely" or "very" important to their financial security in retirement, and 72 percent said so for Medicare. Sixty-two percent said that both programs are extremely or very important."

Not good news for the newest class of Republicans, those who bliindly have followed House Budget Chairman  and Ayn Rand acolyte Paul Ryan in a crazy plan to gut Medicare, with crazier plans for Social Security waiting in the wings to justify further tax cuts for the top one or two percent of income earners and/or receivers.    

Bernard Goldberg, a disgruntled former CBS on-camera news reader who turned into a Fox News contributor a few years back, gave some analysis recently about Obama's  chances. He recalled that the election might be shaping up the way the 1936 Presidential Election did in some ways. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was re-elected not because he had ended all economic ills in the country, but because the public recognized that with all the the ups and downs of New Deal experimentation, his leadership was moving the nation in the right direction.  Plus its hard to deny a sitting President a second term.    

  Goldberg writes: "After all, sitting presidents usually win re-election. Since 1936, 11 incumbent presidents have run for a second term and only three were defeated – Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush.

"And, like FDR, Barack Obama has something else going for him – an intangible that may compensate for bad economic news: likability -- an essential characteristic for anyone hoping to do well in politics.Except for his enemies – and that’s not too strong a word if you’ve ever listened to his most passionate detractors -- Americans generally like Barack Obama, even when they disagree with him on matters of policy.

"They like his smile, they like the way he talks, they like the way he dresses and carries himself, and yes, they like the fact that he is the first black man elected president of the United States of America. In some ways, it is a source of national pride."


Is some of this superficial? Yes, it is.  But politics is more visceral then rock-hard scientific theories. How else to explain the enormous success of Ronald Reagan, a man elected seemingly because of his style over his illogical "voodoo economics" which even leaders in his own party thought daft?  If Reagan could carry 49 states in 1984, what might prevent Obama from taking 35-40 and walking away with the election.  


Who are the Republicans  in the race now?  Who else is likely to get in? Sarah Palin?  Here's how a Public Policy Institute estimate shows what would happen in a Obama-Palin Race:



Well, what if some GOP types get cold feet about Palin.  So they nominate some governor with low national public identity?  Yes, dark horses have won the Presidency, but can a candidate for the Republicans win and appeal to the hard right tea baggers and the independent voters who just plain like Obama?  I doubt it. And another big Obama victory will certainly eat away at the GOP majority in the House. (Less likely in the Senate, though, where the Democrats have to defend 23 seats to the GOP's 10.


So maybe Barack Obama should take a page from FDR's 1936 playbook.  That's not an original idea of mine as this clip from the MSNBC cable network shows.




  1. Wonderful and hopeful post! And I really like the Olbermann video. It is re post material.

  2. Thanks Mary Ellen. We've got problems but I think we also have people who "get it". The problem is getting them to speak out and be heard and get then to the polls.

  3. I see you are undecided in the next presidential campaign.

  4. LOL! I guess I'm just contributing my bit to the ongoing dialogue, Fred.

    It seems to me the GOP has gone further right than I can ever remember. The moderate Republicans I used to respect on many issues like Mark Hatfield of Oregon, John McCain (back when he was a Maverick), and Howard Baker of Tennessee are not any part of the GOP party's legacy anymore. It's like what happened to the Democrats in the early 70's when they became a party more interested in ideological purity than the pragmatic side of governing.

    We only have two political parties. If the leadership of one flat-out loses the ability to work with the other party on how to combine cuts to reduce the deficit with a tax structure that isn't geared to extend permanent cuts to the upper 2 percent of our citizens, for instance, then its hard to maintain even a pretense of objectivity.

    We had a better economy in the 1990's than now. We also had higher tax rates for the very rich. (39 percent versus 35 percent, and higher rates on dividends than the 15 percent we have now.) Those breaks aren't counting all the big companies like General Electric who pay no taxes at all and the oil companies who are subsidized by us taxpayers while Exxon-Mobil had record profits this year and we pay through the nose at the gas pumps.

    The idea that tax cuts create greater wealth and more revenue for matters of "guns and butter" (i.e., the Federal budget) all through some "trickle-down effect" doesn't work anymore if it ever really did. And a nation in deep public debt cannot afford to live under these illusions IMHO.

    Class warfare isn't pretty, even if it comes top-down from those who fly first-class to Hawaii instead of down-top from those taking the bus across town. We have a big deficit problem in this nation and to solve it we need more than just domestic cuts directed against those with the least amount of money to put in campaign contributions. We need those who have influence over the political class through their big money contributions to sacrifice some as well.

    And make no mistake, for me to see the Bush/Cheney tax cuts of 2001 and 2002-3 made permanent (when they were never intended to be when they were passed by Congress) is nothing less than putting the middle class and the elderly in a vise of bankruptcy if they lose their jobs or get sick. I'm tired of reading about hard -working people losing their homes.

    This is not the America I grew up, or came of age in. And I cannot simply say "both parties are just the same" as some of my indifferent off-line friends I come into contact with say. History shows there are differences, hence my comparison to the last time we were in this kind of mess, in the 1930's.
    Understand I'm not blaming anyone personally on Multiply. But, frankly, I don't think many of our Congresspeople and Senators are anything but an extension of the K Street multi-national banking and corporate lobbyists. These folks on Wall Street where bailed out by us when they were in trouble. Nice if they could return the favor I think.

    And no, I'm not just talking about Republicans here my friend. But these current largely GOP Reps in Washington are part of a main culture that seems to want to protect the top 1 or 2 percent at the expense of the rest. Some income inequality is natural in an advanced society but we are less and less like our European and East Asian peer nations and more like Brazil and parts of Latin America! Not the way I want to see the USA go.

  5. Doug for the life of me when I saw Sarah ride in on a motorbike for the memorial to then meeting within Donald to have pizza there are no comparable I believe that Sarah and Donald believe they can run but they are in no manner considerable. The way I see Sarah is one that is thriving on sensationalism and if that is not obvious to the average person. Then I am missing the picture within all of this as it's a circus. I think Obama still does have merit. And on the republic side there are two now that have said they will run for the presidency from the Republican side. That I think is within favor of them. Sarah I like she is zesty, she has character but I myself don't see her within the realm of a president within the making. Maybe she might consider seeing where she sits on the "biker polls". Time shall tell. Look forward to a movie supposedly which she has coming out I ponder if Trump financed it while being in it..Just my 2 cents.

    I see a man which is working his behind off - while another is enjoying the fruites of doing nothing but self promotion at any cost Doug.

  6. Yes, Jack, I agree Palin is strictly a sensationalist--which doesn't rule out her running, unlike Trump who was likely never seriously in the game.

    The Republicans do have a couple serious candidates--the thing is, except for Mitt Romney, they aren't exciting the likely voters at all. The media seems agog over Palin and her motorcycle stunts or going to see the Statue of Liberty or whatever. That whole jive I cannot understand.

  7. She is definitely taking advantage of her 15 minutes of fame. For someone who has not really done anything she sure is popular

  8. You're right there Fred! She seems to be getting the full 30 minutes.

  9. Romney, he is one that seems to be on the making Doug. The entire jive I can't understand and it's disappointing to how it does appear however I sort of think that Obama and Romney are likely the two who shall be cohesive candidates.

  10. There is no doubt she is likeable yet I was reading one blog on why the person liked Sarah. But if she comes to be president. Then american politics have not raised the bar, it's been lowered in my opinion. It's different to say the least within these last two years.

  11. I think the Romney-Obama race is the most likely on Jack in 2012---but, given the odd behavior sometimes seen among hard-core activists in state primaries I'm not sure if Romney will clear all the hurdles and pander up enough for an increasingly extremist far-right base in many states. We shall see.

  12. I agree. She is what is wrong with politics. She does not tell us how to fix things just what is wrong with us. I can teach my 14 year old to point fingers. It is much harder to fix the problems as they have been identified.

  13. The question for me is does it really matter Doug? I personally can't see any connection between the current consensus government and that of FDR at a time when there was still something left of American politics before it was abolished by the advertising industry after WWII.
    One can't help but believe that America will continue to be the global neighbour from hell whoever is elected to the White House, because from here all the main contenders look exactly the same to me.

    I liked the description of the Tea Party as the "Hezbollah Wing" wing of the Republican Party Doug, except it does rather insult the intelligence of Hezbollah I think.

  14. That's a major minus for Palin--she channels anger among certain groups very well, but there is a sense that she is strictly a figurehead. As you say, Fred, a bright high school boy or girl knows we have problems in the country and people in charge of this and that need to do better.

    Diagnosis is easy when it comes to politics; practical real-world solutions?...that 's another matter.

  15. You raise an important point, AA. I cannot say it would make a large difference in the sphere of foreign policy--every President in my lifetime seems to have followed a course to counteract real or hyped threats from abroad. Would the Vietnam War, for instance, have happened for example if Republican Barry Goldwater had been elected instead of Lyndon Johnson? I think so. Perhaps without George W Bush in the White House we would not have pulled into the Iraq War, but that is strictly a hypothetical and people of good will can disagree on that one.

    To the domestic and economic sphere, however, I think it very much does matter. The institutions that ordinary people once relied on to have their voices heard in the USA (unions especially) are almost non-existent in today's marketplace. As I've said earlier, the Republicans are more and more beholden to an extremist wing of their party, which mixes faux populism with lower and lower tax rates for the rich, zero taxes for corporation, and lax regulation of banks who get bailed out because they are "too big to fail". Now that they have been bailed out they want to extend the tax cuts and pay for them on the backs of the elderly and the working and middle class homeowners by nixing, for example, the most basic type of affordable medical reform and doing nothing to stop people removed from their homes and laid off from jobs by smash-and-grab speculators, some of whom should be in jail.

    Is Obama the ideal panacea? Not by a long shot. But before we can restore America to some semblance of a better balance between financial/big corporate interests and a true commonwealth of citizens, this long 30-year hard-Right drift must be checked. To do this I feel independent voters must do their best to elect people who stem that tide until more and more of the adult public can--with my sincere prayers--see through this charade and elect better candidates in an overhaul of both parties back closer in spirit to the creed of civil fairness and as Thomas Jefferson put it in the Declaration of Independence, "a healthy respect for the opinions of mankind."

    The "Hezbollah Wing" of the GOP I took frankly from another blogger. Really should have made a note of that to ensure proper credit where its due. :-)

  16. I think the Republicans are making it quite clear who they represent. And I can't see it serving them well.