The tide that carried many Democrats and progressives into office in 2008 was reversed this year on November 2nd. History tells us however, that the opposing party of a sitting president usually gains Congressional seats during mid-term elections. If the Democrats maintained power it would have been a historical exception.
One blogger summarized the reason for Republican victories with three words: Fear, Vengeance and Ignorance. Conservative politicians don’t have a monopoly on pandering to fear and ignorance, but they seem to be much better at it than liberals. Republicans and Tea-Partiers managed to convince a majority of the electorate that the first two years of the Obama Administration were both a socialist takeover and an utter failure. We live in a political culture where those who yell the loudest and have the most clever sound bites win.
The biggest failing of the Obama team was their inability to adequately communicate their accomplishments. While Obama may not have been able to generate as many new jobs as Americans would have liked, his American Recovery Act saved millions of jobs and provided multiple billions in tax cuts. Many of the people who voted against the Democrats were recipients of the unemployment benefits that were extended three times. Obama may have inherited the Great Recession, but today we are on the slow road to recovery.
Obama’s Health Care Reform will extend coverage to over 30-million uninsured Americans. Young adults can now stay on their parent’s healthcare plans until they are 26 years old. On the foreign policy front, the President ended official combat operations in Iraq and has restored dignity to the United States on the national stage.
However, when the voters’ top concern is jobs, its tough to run campaigns with the slogan, “Things may not be great, but they could be much worse.” For progressives there is still reason for hope. Now Republicans have to be more than the “Party of No,” because they share responsibility of actually solving the country’s problems. And if Obama and Company learn from their mistakes, they’ll be more prepared to win in 2012.
Rod Garvin has lived in Charlotte, NC for more than 15 years. He writes about faith, politics, popular culture and entrepreneurship. He received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and his Master of Theology from Hood Theological Seminary. You can email Rod at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @rodgarvin.