On Thursday, The Atlantic posted an article written by Ted Van Dyk, a Democrat campaign strategist who once worked for Hubert Humphrey. The article examines what the current Democrat party needs to do to maintain its power in the 2016 election. He is obviously not happy with the direction his party is currently taking.
He points out that the Barack Obama that is President today is very different than the Barack Obama that campaigned in 2008. (Actually, I disagree with that statement–Barack Obama has not changed–he has just behaved the way a community organizer would behave. Barack Obama had no administrative experience. Some Americans understood that–many Americans ignored that fact.)
Mr. Van Dyk notes:
Before 2008, Obama looked like a liberal of moderate temperament. He had the bad luck to take office at a time of financial and economic crises overshadowing everything else. He has said since that he underestimated at the time the depth of the crises. That no doubt led him, before growth and stability had been restored, to undertake in 2009 a remake of the entire health sector. Both his stimulus package and healthcare proposal were mainly designed by House Democratic leaders and the interest groups that supported his 2008 campaign. There was no serious attempt, in formulating either program, to draw Republicans into participation, as LBJ had done in 1965. Provisions allowing the sale of health-insurance products across state lines, and providing for meaningful tort reform, could have done that without forfeiting Democratic support. Trial lawyers would have objected but not jeopardized the bill’s passage.
This is spin. The depth of the crisis had nothing to do with ObamaCare. ObamaCare was the result of lack of leadership on the part of the President–he didn’t write it, and I doubt that he has read it–he simply let the old Democrat guard in Congress put together their dream package for special interests–that is why there are so many Democrat supporters excluded from many of the regulations, e.g. union plans that are grandfathered in.
Mr. Van Dyk further notes:
Obama’s 2012 reelection is little comfort for Democrats. His total vote was smaller than in 2008, and it did not constitute a mandate for any particular agenda. It instead depended on two things: first, an unprecedentedly skillful identification and mobilization of key Obama voter groups that had grown in importance over the previous four years; and second, highly effective scare campaigns designed to convince those groups that Mitt Romney and Republicans were heartless plutocrats, servants of wealth, and enemies of women, Latinos, African Americans, and the middle class.
Demonizing his opponent worked for President Obama. The Republicans, hopefully, have learned from that experience and will not let it happen again. The demonization began during the Republican primaries and was not answered by the Republicans at the time. By the time the charges were answered, the moment had passed and the conversation had moved on. The foundation for some of the demonization of Mitt Romney began with the question by George Stephanopoulos to Mitt Romney on birth control. That was not a ridiculous question–it paved the way for the charges that the Republicans were waging a ‘war on women.’
Mr. Van Dyk concludes:
Wedge politics and tailored political messaging can bring a campaign or even a presidency short-term success. But, for the longer run, most Americans feel they are in it together and badly want bipartisan action to keep the economy stable and growing, to keep the country safe here and abroad, and to keep American society open and fair. Americans want from Democrats what Obama promised in his 2008 campaign. Financial and economic crises diverted him, he opted for partisanship with his first-term initiatives, and the resulting gridlock leaves Democrats with three years to consider their future path.
By 2016, this veteran hopes, party leaders will conclude that the big things should be tackled first and that, because of their difficulty, they must be addressed on a bipartisan basis. May they also conclude that there is more to gain by uniting all Americans than by treating them separately as political subgroups.
I agree that bipartisanship is the solution, but I am not sure it is possible. Washington has become a snake pit of one-upmanship rather than a place where people actually work together to solve America’s problems. I suspect the only solution to that situation is to remove anyone from office who has been there for more than one term.