Thursday, January 30, 2014

Democrats Are Taking A Knife To A Gun Fight in 2014

This year is an election year, and a crucial one.  The 2014 election will determine the Congress for Barack Obama's last years in office, and gains by Democrats could help break the logjam of Republican obstruction.  Despite this fact, the Democrats don't seem to be doing much collectively to win.  The president's state of the union address this week was a case in point, since he greatly dialed back his vision, pulling away from gun control and income inequality.  It was not a speech that rallied his base.

Contrast that with the Republicans.  While that party is having some internal convulsions (just witness the four separate responses to the state of the union speech) it is working hard to lay the groundwork for  victory.  As conservatives discovered in 2010, low turnout in mid-term elections means having a motivated base is hard to beat.  The GOP rode the Tea Party wave into major gains that year, and since then have put Capitol Hill in a filibustered lock-down.  This year they are playing the same strategy by emphasizing abortion to get conservative Christians to the polls.  The wave of voter suppression laws around the country will also heavily dilute Democratic turnout, absolutely essential when fewer voters in total will be casting ballots.  Add to that the post-Citizens' United money train flowing from the Koch brothers and the like, and the Democrats could very well be roadkill.

Of course, the Dems did better in 2012, but that's because a presidential election brings out a broader spectrum of voters, and with the Republican obsession with ideological purity, swing voters were not as willing to trust them.  Many of those voters will be staying home this year.  The Democrats have also been saved by the Republicans' manifest dysfunction.  They nominated candidates like Todd Akin, forcing them to lose Senate seats that they should have locked up.  Essentially, the Democrats have been lucky, and still seem so passive that they are just hoping the other side tears itself to pieces rather than rallying their own base or making major moves to capture the attention of other voters.

The Democrats have been a truly spineless party of late.  For evidence, just look at L'Affaire Chrisie.  The governor had been engaging in all kinds of well-known shenanigans, but many Democrats were willing to play ball with him for their own power and gain.  (Just look into the whole Belleville senior citizens' center scandal.)  During last year's election I was flabbergasted at the number of Democrats who would so willingly support a man from the opposing party, much less a man who had attacked important Democratic constituencies with his policies.  Now that the reality of Christie's corruption is being uncovered, these folks are suddenly coming out against him.  Had the bridge scandal not erupted, many of those same Democrats would still be kissing Christie's ass right now.

I am glad that the president showed some fire in his speech and is committed to using executive powers to further his policies, but he does not seem to be offering those on the Left much succor.  He has expended the most energy recently defending a health care law that progressives thought was inadequate and defending domestic spying that his base and many of his opponents are incensed about.

If Democrats don't get annihilated this fall, it won't be because of their efforts, but because of the insanity of their opponents.  The Republicans seem to be getting smarter about this, but might have an intraparty civil war on their hands over taming the Tea Party.  If that civil war doesn't break out, expect Democrats to get buried under a landslide come November.

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