Democratic pundits are setting the party up for defeat by mouthing Republican talking points, and making 2014 all about Obamacare.
E.J. Dionne wrote, “Despite the large strides in the health-care Web site’s performance and despite Obama’s efforts to regain the initiative with executive action, Republicans remain on offense. Executive actions — even helpful ones like last week’s aimed at keeping workers from losing overtime pay by being falsely reclassified as supervisory — cannot transform the political agenda or mobilize a movement. The most telling fact about the Democrats’ defeat in Florida’s special House election last week was the party’s failure to get its voters to the polls. This owed to many factors, but one of them is disaffection in Democratic ranks.”
Bob Shrum has a more logical approach, “Democrats have to stop allowing Republicans to define the election as an up or down vote on an abstraction called Obamacare. Instead of running away from health reform, they have to run on it — in the right way. The key is to denominate the choice in terms of specific provisions of the law, which are overwhelmingly popular in survey after survey.”
Marc Ambinder wrote, “But beyond these forces, there are a number of others that are blowing in the face of Democrats, some of them quite strongly. They are unique to this moment in politics and history. As Cook notes, President Obama’s relative unpopularity all but makes it certain that the Democratic base is unlikely to find themselves enthusiastic. A few other conventional metrics work to the Democrats’ favor. The economy is getting better, slowly, and personal incomes are rising. But I’d wager that the status in Washington has cast so big a shadow over perceptions about which party is doing more to help the economy that people think the country is kind of on auto-pilot.”
All of these pundits are in their own way, wrong. Dionne is wrong for buying the Republican spin that the Florida special election means that this is an anti-ACA year. Alex Sink lost because the district is 11% more Republican, not because of Obamacare.
Shrum is also wrong. Instead of trying to figure out how they should be running on Obamacare, Democrats need to ask themselves if they should be running on the ACA at all.
When Democrats run on Obamacare, they are playing on Republican turf. If Democrats choose to ignore the economy, jobs, and the woeful lack of ideas that the Republican Party is offering, they are setting themselves up for defeat.
Make Republicans talk about something else. Don’t play their game. 2014 doesn’t have to be 2010 again. The problem is not what to do with Obamacare. It is that Democrats are letting themselves be tricked into replaying the last successful Republican election.
Democrats have a chance to knock off Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, and capture a former Republican senate seat in Georgia — things aren’t as bad as the media’s Obamacare hysteria makes it seem. Democrats will have to fight on a state by state basis to keep the Senate, but it can be done if they don’t get suckered into the Obamacare trap.