Sunday, October 31, 2010

Why the Democrats Will Lose

With Election Day right around the corner, the attack ads are pounding the airwaves. I suspect most people do as we do, mute the TV when they come on. All the pundits agree the Democrats will lose big-time in this mid-term election, but I would like to suggest a different reason for the size of their loss from those most often proposed.

The reason the Democrats are going to get pounded this election is because they are not being honest with the voters about what they have accomplished in the last two years. Democrats came to office on the back of “making change,” and they have indeed made a large number of changes. If they had spent a good bit of their campaign energy helping the voters understand those changes, this year’s election would be about the Republican and Democratic visions of governing America. (Or maybe about the Republican, Democratic and Tea Party visions of governing America.) Instead, the Democrats have ceded the conversation with the American people to those who shout the loudest in protest.

Democrats spent much time and energy passing health care legislation and financial reform legislation. They should have trumpeted the reasons for these bills and what the actual provisions are. Voters can then decide whether they are better off or worse off with those bills. Allowing nonsense like “death panels” to misinform does everyone a disservice. These “catch-phrases” do stick in the mind, but with patient conversation about facts, most people will come to understand what the real provisions are. That does not mean they will necessarily like them, but at least they will understand them.

Almost all economists, regardless of party preference, agree the country needed the stimulus and that it helped prevent a further deterioration in the economy. Where they differ is largely on whether it was too little, not too much, and specifics on how to spend the money. Yet Democrats have allowed themselves to be negatively tagged with the stimulus and bailouts (most of which actually occurred during the Bush administration.) They should be proudly proclaiming that their actions prevented more unemployment. Admittedly, “it could have been worse,” is a weak response to criticism. What is necessary was to paint a vivid picture of what would have happened without the bailout – some reminders about the Great Depression would have been useful.

Democrats should also be telling voters how regulations have changed from the Bush to the Obama administrations. The differences are significant. Again, letting voters understand the true significance of the differences allows them to realize the two parties are not the same. We have short memories and we forget the cause of today’s troubles. The purpose of these discussions is not to convince everyone the Democratic way is better; the purpose is to inform the electorate of the differences. An educated electorate will make good decisions.

Democrats should be conversing not only with those on the “far left” but with those in the middle half of American political leanings. Instead, they have allowed the political conversation in the country to be dictated by those on the far right.

In short, Democrats are going to be creamed this election not because they are career politicians who happen to be in power. (That would have caused the normal midterm election losses.) They are going to be creamed because they have been inept politicians who have not told the people what they have accomplished and will accomplish. They have not provided a vision.

~ Jim

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