Following eight years of the George W. Bush administration, which included two wars (including one pre-emptive war of choice), the failures of FEMA to give aid for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, the crash of the housing market, the nation’s second-largest stock market crash, the bailout of the nation’s largest banks, soaring debt, thousands of home foreclosures and skyrocketing unemployment, the general public was understandably outraged. The Democratic Party stood a good chance of tapping into that outrage thereby ensuring its dominance for generations.
Not only did it fail to do so, it allowed the Tea Party to capture the voters’ anger and help the GOP seize the House of Representatives in 2010.
Was that outcome the result of astute planning and insightful strategies by Republicans? No, it was the result of the stupidity, timidity and outright cowardice of Democrats! Instead of charging Bush officials for the war crimes they committed, Democrats allowed them to profit from the speaker’s circuit and to rewrite history with their inevitable memoirs. Instead of pursuing criminal charges against the banksters who defrauded ordinary Americans, the Department of Treasury and the Justice Department allowed them to give each other six and seven-figure bonuses for their misdeeds. Instead of rewriting the tax code to prevent corporations and individuals from avoiding taxes by stashing profits in off-shore accounts, they bowed to Teapublicans making the Bush tax cuts permanent.
By 2010, the populist outrage created by Teapublican policies was re-directed toward Democrats – not so much for what they had done, but for what they had NOT done. They have not established a brand, making their core values clearly understood. They have not embraced those who joined the Occupy movement and the 99 percent. Too few have stood up against big money and big business. They have not fought hard enough for what they claim to believe in. And, instead of staying focused on solutions to our nation’s problems, they have too often and too easily buckled to criticism.
Now we are heading toward yet another seminal moment in politics and the analysts are suggesting that the Teapublicans will not only hold onto the House. They are likely to take over the Senate! In other words, voters are likely to reward the party that blocked the regulation of financial institutions; the party that panders to large corporations and billionaires while demeaning and dismissing nearly half our population; the party whose policies have hollowed out the middle class and transferred trillions of dollars of wealth upward to those who least need it; the party that took us to war based on a series of lies; the party that has repeatedly tried to cut Social Security and Medicare; the party that refused to allow the duly-elected majority to legislate through a record number of filibusters; the party that prioritized the profits of large corporations over jobs; the party that ignores the needs of small businesses; the party that has destroyed labor unions; the party that underfunds Veterans Affairs then howls when it can’t meet demand; the party that believes that climate change and environmental conservation are based on flawed science.
If you’re a small business owner, a white collar worker, a blue collar laborer, a woman, a retiree, or anyone who wants to breathe clean air and drink clean water, the GOP has made it abundantly clear that they don’t care about you. By the same token, many in the Democratic Party have shown an unwillingness to fight for you. And their election strategy seems to consist of, “A Republican said (or did) something stupid, send us money.” Maybe that explains why so few Democratic voters show up at the polls during midterm elections.
Indeed, the two parties can best be summed up by two quotes. In the HBO series The Newsroom, Jeff Daniels’ character stated, “You know why people don’t like liberals?…cause they lose. If liberals are so f***ing smart, why do they lose so goddam always?” And conservative author P. J. O’Rourke famously wrote, “Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work, and then they get elected and prove it.”
Unfortunately, I believe they are both right.