Former Obama strategist extraordinaire David Axelrod appeared on the Meet the Press to criticize President Obama for saying that his policies are on the ballot for the midterms. Republicans are already on the record crowing about it, because apparently they oppose “create more jobs and grow more wages”.
There is fodder to be had here and it’s not by Republicans.
On Meet the Press, Axelrod said it was a mistake for Obama to have said, “I’m not on the ballot this fall, but make no mistake, these policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them.”
The President laid out specific policies that the Republicans have obstructed and noted that Republicans aren’t running on killing Obamacare like they said they would (because it’s working). He told voters “these policies” are on the ballot this November 4th (my bold):
I am not on the ballot this fall. Michelle’s pretty happy about that. But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them. This isn’t a political speech, and I’m not going to tell you who to vote for – even though I suppose it is kind of implied.
But I have laid out my ideas to create more jobs and grow more wages. A true opposition party should have the courage to lay out theirs. There’s a reason fewer Republicans are preaching doom on deficits – because they’re now manageable. There’s a reason fewer are running against Obamacare – because while good, affordable health care might still be a fanged threat to freedom on Fox News, it’s working pretty well in the real world.
But when push came to shove this year, and Republicans in Congress actually had to take a stand on policies that would help the middle class and working Americans – raising the minimum wage, enacting fair pay, refinancing student loans, extending insurance for the unemployed – the answer was “no.”
“These policies” seem pretty good. What’s wrong with “create more jobs and grow more wages”? Democrats should nail Republicans with this in rebuttal, because this is exactly what Republicans are pummeling them over.
Reince Priebus happily pounced on this line in order to attack Democrats on Meet the Press, saying it was bad news for Democrats if the President’s policies are on the ballot box.
This would be true, if only Obama’s policies polled badly with the people, but the policies Obama was talking about were economic policies that benefit working America, like raising the minimum wage. The President has challenged the opposition party to lay out their ideas, saying here are his ideas, now where are theirs?
These things are not bad news for Democrats. These things are why Republicans can’t talk about anything but social issues and manufactured dramas, fear-mongering, and fictional Obama boogeyman stories. These things are why Republicans are resorting to “Are you better off now?” — without mentioning that it was their party that obstructed jobs bills, raising the minimum wage, equal pay for women, and more.
The President has to walk a fine line here because if he doesn’t put these policies on the ballot to some extent, the Obama voters won’t turn out and the party needs to motivate them. The President cut a general ad for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in which he rallied the troops by telling them, “I need you to get involved…. I can’t do it alone.”
Axelrod, who is a brilliant strategist, is trying to keep the election local and avoid it being a national election about the President in order to help Democrats in peril. This is one reason the President isn’t stumping for certain candidates. But there is a huge difference between selling a policy and selling a candidate. The Obama White House has not always been great at selling their policies, even though their policies are very popular with the people.
It’s a matter of packaging the Democratic policies as populism, which should be easier to do than packaging Republican policies that benefit the top 1% as populism – a feat they continue to manage with the less informed voter.
Republicans continue to have no ideas except making Obama into a boogeyman and taking refuge in social issues they can’t defend.
This election is about who has been fighting for the average American. Who has been trying to pass policies to help the average American earn a fair wage. Who has been trying to keep America safe and raise morale. Who has been trying to protect our children from the mad hatters in the NRA who run the Republican Party.
Democrats can respond to these Republican attacks by asking which policy, more jobs or better wages, Republicans are running against?
Democrats can continue (after letting the first point sink in) by saying that while they don’t agree with the President on everything, they are shocked that Republicans do not support basic common sense like raising the minimum wage and they would love to debate “these policies” with the Republican candidate on TV.
Just because Democrats are nervous about the politics should not mean that they run away from the policies.
Ms. Jones is the Editor-in-Chief of PoliticusUSA and a Huffington Post contributor. She has covered President Barack Obama, 2016 Democratic candidate for president Hillary Clinton, VP Joe Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, First Lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including regular appearances on The Ann Walker Show With Scott Nevins for UBN Radio and KPTR 1450’s California Woman 411, The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, The Richard Dawkins Foundation and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. She graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in Latin and Psychology, including studying the psychology of organized crime, with graduate studies in the psychology of linguistics and Latin poetry.