Sunday, July 23, 2006

Donkey won't do it this year.

There I’ve said it. I’ve made my political prediction for the November 2006 Congressional elections. Four months out I’m feeling uneasy about Democratic chances of capturing either houses of Congress. I just don’t get the impression that the Democrats have it together enough to defeat the most cohesive and integrated political machine of the last forty years. The GOP is showing some fraying and even some splitting, but they still have party unity in a way that the Democrats can’t touch. In the end I think the Republicans will be able to muster enough support to keep power.

There have been a lot of comparisons between this election and the mid-term elections of 1994 when the Republicans tapped public dissatisfaction and took both houses in a sweep. To my mind things are far more screwed up now than they ever were that year: The war in Iraq is very unpopular; there is a general understanding that this ivory tower President is deeply flawed (at least among people who aren’t wearing biblical blinders), certain sectors of the economy are slowing; we’re facing significant competitive pressures from abroad with no cohesive policy for addressing them, and the GOP leadership continues to embarrass itself by trotting out half dead nags like gay marriage and flag burning when the voters seem all too aware that there are truly pressing issues that Congress should be addressing. In short, they are not doing a good job. This year should be a perfect storm for the Democrats

However, in order to win this year the Democrats would need to pick up six seats in the Senate and at least 30 in the House. That would need to be six and thirty wins and NO losses. That is a tall order. Numerically it certainly seems to be attainable in the Senate, but there are retiring Democratic Senators in southern states and those seats will be tough for the party to hang on to.

There are a few bright spots, but I don’t think they are either large enough or mature enough to tip the balance.

Santorum is going to lose here in Pennsylvania. I believe he’s just worn out his welcome and all of the Feel-Good Ricky TV ads aren’t going to change the fact that he’s spent the last twelve years pandering to a national Christian base rather than to a statewide Pennsylvanian one. He is running ads touting his record right now, but when the Democrats join the fray they are going to run clips of him uttering some of his more outré comments and they’ll hang him with his own words. Unfortunately, one man does not the Senate make. I will savor his defeat though.

Also, despite the best efforts of the President to draw Hispanic voters into the GOP, reactionary conservatives in Congress calling for mass deportations have – in as little as six months – driven that constituency to the Democratic Party for the next forty years: something that will prove to be politically disastrous for the Republicans as the face of the country continues to change. In the process of executing this astounding blunder, the GOP has managed to motivate a potentially vast, and until recently, politically disorganized voting bloc against themselves. It remains to be seen whether this year’s massive organized rallies will translate to real voting power in this election, but as Hispanic voters continue to gain strength the long-term impact for the GOP will be negative.

Even so, I don’t think the Democrats are there yet. I don’t think their rebuilt political apparatus has the depth and maturity needed to attain and keep power in this election and I don’t think they’ve found a unifying message to run on yet. “We’re not Republicans” is not going to be enough. They have to come out and say what they stand for the way Newt Gingrich did with the Contract for America. Until then they are only running as an undefined alternative and that won’t get the job done.

It’s unfortunate that we are going to suffer an additional two years of GOP rule. They will have every opportunity to make things worse for all of us. But the final outcome – and I am predicting for 2008 here – will be massive and final on a scale similar to Roosevelt’s victory in 1932. The GOP is simply going to flame out under the weight of its own incompetence, corruption and failures of leadership. When it does come the political shift will be a spectacular.

It just won’t be this year.


Post a Comment

<< Home