The midterm elections on November 2nd is being framed as a tidal wave of Republican wins that has seemingly never happened before. But if you look at the election of conservative icon, Ronald Reagan, you’ll see that while his party gained a majority in the Senate and picked up quite a few seats in the House in 1980, Republicans lost House seats in 1982, but held on to the Senate. We won’t know what will happen on Tuesday until it Tuesday night/ Wednesday morning, but even if the House changes over from D to R, it doesn’t mean that it’s a huge loss for Obama (as it’s being framed). Granted the political culture since Ronald Reagan has coarsened considerably, but if Obama’s administration has learned anything in the last two years it’s this: there is no compromising with Republicans. And with the Teabaggers most likely coming to power, his job will become even harder in terms of getting legislation through Congress.
But he still has the bully pulpit, and he should use it as much as he can. Forget the old adage of “Campaigning in poetry and governing in prose.” It’s all poetry now, and because it is (and that’s what people respond to), Obama is going to have to summon all the poetic touches he honed on the campaign trail to get his base really fired up about his agenda. How do you do this? Focus almost solely on pocketbook issues. That means jobs, jobs, jobs. Keep hammering home that it’s patriotic duty for those in the government to get Americans working again.
2% GDP isn’t going to do anything to boost hiring. Companies are keeping their staffs lean, outsourcing where they can, and automating other tasks. The combination is driving wages down, keeping unemployment up, but boosting corporate profits. How do you get people back to work? What incentives do you give companies to hire more staff ? Those are the billion and trillion dollar questions that we elect people to go to Washington to solve.
Republicans are going in with austerity measures for the middle class. The tax cuts that were enacted by Obama during the stimulus will probably not be renewed, while the Bush tax cuts will be made permanent. Tax cuts increase the deficit and the debt. So where’s the austerity? It’s going to have to come out of popular programs like Medicare and Social Security — because Republicans will never ever cut military spending. And when they go after these popular programs, you’re going to see the fickle American public get pissed off. All those Teabaggers who get their free electric wheelchairs through Medicare or get Social Security payments will be affected. But will they embrace ideological purity over the reality of government assistance that helps them in the month to month struggle to make ends meet? We’ll see.
For Obama, in order not to become a one termer, he’s going to have to get his groove back and explain to Americans (much like he did on the campaign trail) what he’s trying to accomplish and get those millions who voted for him in 2008 to keep working with him to, as he puts it, move America forward.