November 07, 2006

Tonight's midterms mean danger for Democrats

DemocratsThe United States goes to the polls today to elect a new House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate. It’s a make-or-break moment for both parties, but could yield greater dangers for the Democrats.

They’re expected to take the House of Representatives, and have an outside chance of grabbing the Senate too. But such high expectations mean that anything less will be seen as a victory for George Bush’s party. And the potential pitfalls don’t end late tonight.

If the Democrats gain the House, they’ll surely use their position – which as Adam Brookes points out isn’t that powerful – to initiate inquries into everything that took place over the last 6 years under George Bush. So we’ll see inquiries into Iraq, Afghanistan, global warming and anything else Bush has cocked up (a potentially long list).

But they risk being so righteous that they make themselves unelectable. Come 2008, with a Presidential election and a real chance to take the Senate – and the Democrats might have squandered their chances by appearing universally negative and leaving little time to invent ideas of their own.

They won’t win an election by posturing and screaming at the Republicans. They need ideas – on Iraq, Afghanistan, and of course global warming – and they need to start thinking on their feet.

- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. It’s futile to guess what will happen “when”. Like most people, I read the polls and expect the Democrats to achieve gains, and perhaps to score big gains. If their performance turns out to be poor, or the Republicans score unexpectedly robust victories, there will be some very interesting analysis to be undertaken. That is all there is to be said.

    Assuming Democratic gains deliver majorities in the House and possibly the Senate; and therefore that antagonisms arising from different parties controlling different branches of government characterise everyday management of business, conduct of foreign and military policy, will depend heavily on events, over which Democrats will certainly have no more control than the President (and as we know, that is precious little).

    It is not hard to anticipate that Republicans will seek to exploit the way Democrats use their control of one opr both chambers of the national legislature. But unlike the Presidency, there is no single focus for public perceptions. Congressional Democrats will not vote as a bloc, and much will depend on divisions between them and degrees of internal cohesion or conflict – which will turn on both the political views and personalities of individuals, and the presssures and electoral calculations determined by their local constituencies. The election results will come from 50 states and 435 districts, and politics will continue to operate on that level much of the time. But quite soon the campaign for the presidency and the primaries of both parties will create new issues and elevate new personalities.

    The biggest issue in politics is always leadership. The most important effects of the 2006 mid-terms will be how the results affect individuals in the exercise of leadership and the pursuit of offices of leadership in all branches and at all levels of government. The most important outcomes might be the battles for governorships. And nobody is taking any notice of them at all!

    07 Nov 2006, 11:02

  2. I think the lack of leadership in the Democratic Party will be their biggest problem in the next 9-12 months. I’d go a bit further than you and say that because there isn’t a single focus of public perceptions, anything that a Democrat does badly in 2007 will reflect badly on the whole party, making the 2008 elections harder for them. The sooner they find leadership, the sooner they can manage their image and deal with the flak that comes their way. I think this means Nancy Pelosi (expected to be the new Speaker of the House) needs to put on a very good show, and sometimes show a little restraint in setting off the attack dogs.

    07 Nov 2006, 11:43

  3. paolo Honorificas

    No. No. No. An old argument and one that proved weak in relationship to the midterm gains. All that has to be done is to appear scandal free and willing to be receptive to reasonable proposals. Exactly the posture that Democratic leaders are taking now. The real task in preperation for 08 is a broadening and solidification of local organizational county and state infrastructures. Why does everyone seem to sound like a Fox commercial? Hearings will be held and because of them the Republicans will be condemned to the back bench for the next 20 years.

    09 Nov 2006, 01:01

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