First off, congratulations to Scott Brown, the newly elected Senator from Massachusetts. Proof positive that campaigning is important and taking people for granted is a big no no in a state known for starting revolutions against authority. [And for heavens sake, don't call a Red Sox hero a Yankees fan, even if he is sometimes a bit of a jerk.]
So now what? The requisite finger pointing and even the mea culpas seem to have (mostly) flared and subsided already. Frankly, that’s pretty good, only one day after the election. The Republicans will crow a bit longer still, but if they are smart (and the jury is still out on that), they will keep it to a minimum. Of course the pundit class will go on analyzing, reanalyzing, and otherwise convincing themselves that everything they say is accurate and important (hint, it isn’t). And since this is a mid-term election year, which usually means losses for the party in power anyway, the pundits will be blathering from now until November. (Here’s another hint, the Democrats will lose lots of seats no matter what happens between now and then, and the pundits will remind everyone that they were right and ignore everything they said that was wrong)
And hopefully behind the scenes the political strategists will be figuring out what went wrong (for the Democrats) and what could go wrong (for the Republicans). They will say “the people are angry,” “the independents are frustrated,” and “the tea partiers are engergized.” All of which are true. But if they are smart (and the jury is still out on that one too), they won’t miss the one most important factor in the Massachusetts election, and even the Virginia and New Jersey Gubernatorial elections. And that is:
Voters have zero memory!
Yep, that’s what it comes down to. Voters forgot that they wanted change because, well, because change is hard and no one actually wants to do anything hard. They forgot that the current downturn in the economy started at least a year before Obama was elected. They forgot that the first stimulus happened under Bush and the second stimulus, by all economists’ accounts, likely saved us from a massive depression. They forgot that the stock market, which tanked big time several months before election day in 2008, has been recovering since Obama took office. They forgot all these things, and more.
So how to deal with this? Well, the Republican challenge is to continue to use the “tyranny of the minority” in which 41 Senators can keep 59 Senators from passing any substantive legislation (hey, only in America). And the Republicans must learn to harness the energy of the tea partiers (and their non-self-labeled angry and amnesiac compadres) without totally screwing it up (which they are in danger of doing because of lobbyist misappropriation and astroturfing). Not a small task these two things, but certainly easier than what the Democrats have to deal with.
The Democrats have to figure out a way to get something done without looking like they are doing anything other than creating jobs. Sure, fixing health care will save jobs in the long run, but realities don’t seem to mean much versus the professional misinformation campaigns (case in point, how many people still believe there were “death panels” in the legislation). And sure, switching to sustainable energy will create new jobs, help resolve environmental degradation and climate change, and put us in the drivers seat for our own national security. But again, no one notices the future. Even though Obama has been talking about jobs from the beginning, when the unemployment rate is 10% talk doesn’t get you reelected.
So expect the Democratic plan between now and November to be focused on highlighting jobs. They can start with showing a nice graph that shows the millions of jobs lost during the last 2 years of the Bush presidency, and how each month since Obama took office the number of lost jobs has decreased. Someone explain to me why this graph wasn’t on the WH web page front and center. They can then show another nice graph (use lots of colors people, we like seeing pretty graphs with lots of colors that are easy to figure out)…oh sorry, okay, show another graph that shows the recovery of the stock market. Nice big huge deep V shape where it was running along with reasonable gains until the summer of 2008 when it tanked down to about a 50% loss. But guess what, shortly after Obama took office the stock market started climbing and not long ago it reached full recovery to beyond where it was about 18 months ago. Show the graph!!! People need visuals to trigger the memory neurons.
There are a few other things that the Democrats should do, but I think I’ll wait until they call me and offer to pay for my advice. Better yet, skip the Democrats and Republicans and just get all the Independents together. After all, it is us Independents that won VA, NJ, and MA for the Republicans this election cycle, and won it for Obama and the Democrats in 2008. Seems to me we hold the cards in our hands right now.
Now there is an idea worth pursuing!!! See you at the polls.