This midterm election campaign and result was, although disappointing, certainly not unexpected and it was down in part to how each party based their campaigns on the performance of a politician who was not on any ballot. Republicans lacked any agenda that appealed to most voters’ concerns, so they chose to base their message on fallacy and campaign against President Obama they claimed was a disaster for the nation. Many Democrats, on the other hand, pathetically ran away and attempted to distance themselves from the President that certainly lent an air of credibility to Republican candidates’ assertions that the Obama Administration was a failure. However, despite the results of the elections, Barack Obama is still the President, and his administration’s record achievements over the past five-and-a-half years were squandered by Democratic candidates intent on appearing to be more like Republicans than Democrats affiliated with a President with a record of successes.
There was a very revealing exit-polling report from the Associated Press that revealed a majority of Americans are indeed discontent with the government, but they also support the President’s policies that many Democratic candidates were afraid to campaign on. For example, a majority of voters favor giving immigrants who are in the country illegally a path to citizenship. More than half think abortion should remain legal and is a woman’s personal health decision. Surprisingly, most of the voters considered climate change such a serious problem that the government should be taking more steps to assuage its damage.
Nearly two-thirds of voters think the U.S. economic system unfairly favors the wealthy who have taken the lion’s share of the recovery. Well over half say their own family’s financial situation has not improved over the past two years, and a fourth say it has gotten much worse. Even the people who said health care is their top issue were more likely to say the President’s Affordable Care Act did not go far enough as to say it went too far.
These are the themes that all Democratic candidates did not run boldly on and, worse, failed miserably to relate them to the President’s agenda or campaign on supporting his policies to help more Americans. Whether it was immigration reform, climate change, healthcare, women’s choice, or addressing income inequality, all important issues to voters and the President, every Democrat running for office should have embraced the President instead of running the other way toward Republicans.
What is not a surprise, is that despite voter support for the President’s agenda and position on issues important to them, Republicans won; except against Democrats who ran on either expanding on the President’s successes, or campaigning on those he championed for good of the people. In more stark terms, they ran as strong Democrats pushing Progressive, populist, issues. For example, Senators Brian Schatz, Jeff Merkley, Al Franken, and Jeanne Shaheen overcame strong challenges from Republican candidates backed by Wall Street and the Koch brothers because they led, and based their campaign messages, on issues like raising the minimum wage, expanding Social Security, and taking real action on climate change; all issues AP’s exit polling revealed are important to a majority of voters and something more Democrats should have campaigned on in support of the President and to defeat Republicans.
Indeed, across the nation, voters overwhelmingly approved myriad state ballot measures and initiatives the President advocates, many national Democrats were afraid to campaign on, and Republicans vehemently oppose. For example, voters approved every initiative to legalize or significantly reduce the penalties for marijuana; Florida’s weed initiative garnered 57% of the vote but it required 60% to pass (it is Florida). Voters also approved every initiative to raise the minimum wage in states it was on the ballot, with San Francisco and Oakland approving raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Against ardent Kock-ALEC objections and mountains of dark money, voters in Oakland and Massachusetts overwhelmingly approved more generous paid sick leave that Republicans want eliminated.
Despite the rush toward biblical theocracy and a well-funded religious right crusade, Colorado and North Dakota voters rejected yet another Vatican-inspired edict to grant a single-celled zygote (fertilized egg) full constitutional personhood rights under their criminal codes to criminalize birth control and imprison non-compliant women. Washington state voters rejected Republican and NRA gun-fanatics and approved background checks for all gun sales and transfers; including private transactions. And lastly, in a seriously righteous smack down of the Education Secretary’s anti-teacher crusade; by a wide margin conservative Missourians rejected a constitutional amendment that required teacher evaluations based on poorly-parented student’s test results and allowed them to be fired or demoted at will and without cause; an important aspect of the Administration’s Michelle Rhee and Arne Duncan school privatization agenda (much more on this in another article).
Coupled with the exit-polling revelations and the results of over a hundred state ballot initiatives and measures, it is obvious that voters support nearly everything President Obama has fought valiantly for. It is why Democrats that boldly campaigned on those issues in the face of mountains of Koch and religious right money were victorious; they are popular issues with the voters. Tragically, Democrats that shied away from the President, including the economic successes his policies have produced, were unsuccessful. Maybe it was Howard Dean who said that given a choice between a real Republican and a “Republican-lite,” voters will always opt for the real thing because any Democrat attempting to appear “Republican,” or pretend to reject their own party’s President and policies cannot be trusted; by either party’s base.
Republicans claim the Obama Administration has damaged the nation, and yet they never once even alluded to how the nation has suffered, or what their policies to mitigate the damage would be. Oh, they deftly used the appropriate dog whistles to appeal to their ignorant racist, theocratic, and corporatist base, but except for privately promising the Kochs they would eliminate most federal agencies and domestic programs the Kochs and Wall Street despise, they kept their plans close to the vest. They also covertly promised the theocracy crowd to pass personhood, gay marriage bans, and put god in government, but like their dedication to the Kochs, they kept those pledges out of the mainstream voting public’s awareness. What some Democrats failed to comprehend is that most Americans, although not the smartest people, shudder at government-by-bible as well as Koch, Wall Street, and corporate fascism as the governing authority.
It is curious why even one Democrat would fail to take advantage of the weapons the President’s achievements and policies provided them. Combined with the stark failures of Republican-led state’s experiments in pure conservatism, they were provided with a one-two punch that all but the most extreme red-state teabagger could have withstood. One understands why Republicans running against President Obama never mentioned his economic successes, but it is beyond comprehension why any Democrat did not herald the Administration’s achievements and campaign on expanding them to benefit more Americans. It is doubtless that if a Republican administration had achieved even a quarter of the successes as the Obama Administration, every GOP and teabagger candidate would have hammered Democrats mercilessly and won in a landslide.
Sadly, when Democrats had a preponderance of presidential economic achievements, including lowest spending and taxes in 60 years, falling unemployment, fastest debt and deficit reduction in decades, business profits soaring, and world-leading oil production responsible for rapidly falling gas prices, they avoided and abandoned the President like plague and played into Republicans’ hands losing the Senate in the process.
It is true that voter suppression, dark money, racism, religion, and profound voter stupidity contributed to Republican victories, but one cannot dismiss, or ever forget, that between apathetic Democratic voters, and frightened Democratic candidates, the midterm election results are as much the fault of Democrats as the Kochs, religious right, Wall Street, and lying criminal Republicans.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.