By J. Whyatt Mondesire
Cynicism and disillusionment trumped hope and change in last Tuesday’s midterm elections; not because Republicans promised to produce a better America but rather because they promoted an America with a smaller, weaker version of President Barack Obama.
In spite of some pretty decent statistics showing a rising stock market, lower gas prices and decreases in unemployment, Americans are angry about the state of their own lives and fearful about a future threatened by media-hyped international plagues, Middle East jihadists; and wage stagnation. In particular white Americans were looking for someone to blame for their disaffection.
Congress on the whole gets pretty dismal grades from most voters in national polls, but it is the president’s name and face whom voters see when they discuss Washington gridlock and the like. And if his administration refuses to point the finger somewhere else, as in this case, guess who gets tagged on Election Day?
There was no alternative governmental platform espoused by the GOP and its big money allies whom the New York Times says funneled as much as $300 million secretly into campaigns across the country. The 2014 election was anti-President Obama; nothing more, nothing else. How else can you explain a national electorate which supports raising the minimum wage 3-1, but then voted in Republican senators and governors in five states (Alaska, Arkansas, S. Dakota, Nebraska and Illinois) opposed to raising wage levels.
Republicans want to pretend they have achieved a mandate to govern with an agenda of repealing the Affordable Healthcare Act, tax cuts that will lead to more private sector jobs, diminished controls on energy and financial institutions and generally less government. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Campaigning on pure negativity isn’t surprising for a party that has governed that way since Obama was first sworn in. By creating an environment where every initiative is opposed and nothing gets done, the GOP burnished the president’s image as week and ineffectual. And he in turn sealed the deal with his habitual refusal to rhetorically strike back at his detractors.
Rather than act like he knows he’s in the political mud fight of his life, this head-of-state prefers to remain detached and aloof when discussing his inexorable tide of bushwhackers as though they were college debaters engaged in a Socratic colloquy.
By contrast, Democrats in Pennsylvania defeated Tom Corbett by making him the only governor in the state’s modern history not to be reelected precisely because he was targeted by name and deed. This newspaper, unions, clergy, civil rights groups, student activists and parents across the commonwealth all worked for more than two years to make sure voters knew the identity of the person who had placed public education on life support.
We knew practically nothing about his opponent, other than his funny looking old jeep and his family’s fortune from their furniture business in tiny York, Pennsylvania. He didn’t even bother to show up at most campaign events here or in the western parts of the state. The one thing we did agree on was that he was not Tom Corbett. Now, we have to wait and see if this blind faith will be rewarded.
The final lesson from this week’s debacle has to be a call for new leadership among the Democratic A-listers, namely the heads of the party congressional and senate campaigns, as well as House and Senate chamber leaders like Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid. Simply stated, they blew it and they have to be replaced by people who understand today’s fundraising mechanics, voter messaging and candidate selection. Democrats wasted millions of dollars in Kentucky, for example, attempting to unseat incumbent Mitch McConnell, with a candidate, Alison Grimes, who refused to even answer the question of whether she voted for Obama when it turns out she had been one of his convention delegates. In 2008 and 2012, President Obama had lost Kentucky by an average of 25 points.