05 November 2010

Politics, Part (-isan) 1

In my previous post, I looked at Tuesday's election in structural governmental, or Constitutional terms, concluding: the most significant, and long-lasting, power shift tokened by this election was not the change of party majority in the House of Representatives, it was the re-ascendance of the Legislative branch of government after eight years of the imperious, if not imperial, Executive under the Bush/Cheney administration. I've still seen no one who grasps this very important LIBERAL principle.

This may mean added oversight and even, if the new House Republican majority gets too full of themselves, impeachment. That's a political fight. And the R's are much better at it than the D's who could not muster the courage to challenge that mighty 'War President' whose abuses of power and potential war crimes and crimes against humanity, inter alia, drove his popularity down into the low to mid twenty percent range by the end of his term. That doesn't mean that such a structural shift isn't a good one. It is good for democracy. Presidents should not be allowed to rule by fiat.

Today, I want to look at why the Democratic Party failed so spectacularly Tuesday. After his party gained majority status in 2006, President Obama swept to power in 2008 against a preposterous opposition (Palin/McCain). The ground for this was laid by the DNC's and, specifically, Howard Dean's 50-state strategy. They ran a consistent campaign and put up serious candidates practically everywhere; they energized the base and the youth vote and raised funds dollar-by-dollar from sources previously untapped—the internet, small contributors, etc. Once Obama became the titular head of the party, Dean was ousted and the campaign strategy changed. As a result, the D's were out-gunned by money, message, and enthusiasm in this last election.

The R's tapped unprecedented sources of money in the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. This is where their "tidal wave" lay. It had nothing to do with their policies. In fact, their two major policy principles (besides, of course, ousting President Obama in 2012) contain a contradiction so glaring that even the most obtuse media pundit should be able to drive a high-speed rail line through it. Principle 1: Extend the Bush tax cuts permanently; Principle 2: Balance the budget/cut the deficit. Can you spot the inconsistency?

The R's won because they were better organized and raised way more money. It's as simple as that. They had so much money, they nearly split wide open trying to get their hands on it—an issue I plan to address in my next post on this topic. And if the D's plan on retaining the Senate and the Presidency in 2012, they better start last year raising enough money so they can start some serious fundraising, getting their precinct leadership in order, recruiting good candidates EVERYWHERE, crafting their message, preparing their legislative strategy to exploit the contradictions and conflicts in their opponent's ranks, etc.

This, of course, is just the politics of it. More importantly, of course, for the good of the country, President Obama needs to focus on creating jobs and improving the economy, and he needs to get his party behind him. As the party of good governance, I think the D's can do it. But they shouldn't expect the electorate to reward them merely for a job well done; the Republicans are much better campaigners. The Democrats, if they want to keep their jobs, need to demonstrate how much they really want them. They need to bring the passion.

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