I’m not sure if Obama is going to get to serve another term. In fact, if things keep going the way they’ve been going the past year, I’m positive Obama will be one and done.
It’s not because I cower in fear of our new Teapublican overlords after their history making, freedom loving, glory inducing, red, white and blue tour de force of Americana that pulled us from the brink of the abyss of patriotic damnation. It’s not because the will of the people spoke, nay, wielded the sword of unyeilding and uncompromising truth, honesty, and justice to slay the foes of peace, democracy, and freedom. No, I’m worried about the Democrats uncanny ability to, as the saying goes, pull defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Democrats just got slapped around. Big time. No doubt about that. That’s something we should be somewhat concerned about. But it’s not something we need to be very concerned about, provided the Democrats in power and those running the show get their sh*t together and start taking advantage of wonderful opportunity the Teapublicans just handed to us. Make that three opportunities…
1. Mandate? The Teapublicans are certain of the mandate they were just given. Unfortunately for them it really wasn’t an all powerful mandate, but that won’t diminish the bravado or self righteous power trip they’re high on. Polls are divided about whether this was even a referendum on Obama’s policies – much less a rebuke of his efforts, Teabaggers were elected in a number of races but were also crushed (as loons) in other high profile races meaning they don’t have the across-the-board appeal they think they do, the American people have been giving Congress ridiculously low approval ratings so some change had to come, the economy still isn’t good (better than it would have been, but many are still hurting) so some change had to come, Obama’s huge victory two years ago put some Democrats in power that normally wouldn’t have been in those districts so it’s natural that those seats would be in great danger, the Democrats in general have done a HORRIBLE job messaging and marketing (see Lowell’s post on the issue), the minority base is usually more motivated and was so in this case with rank-and-file Republicans showing higher enthusiasm, and so on. Point being, any rational analysis of the Teapublican victory would have to conclude that the reasons for their various victories are many, many of those reasons have nothing to do with their platform, and there is certainly no mandate.
They are going to act like they’ve just been elected run the entire Country, instead of the more modest gaining control of the House. Which means they will be trying to shove their agenda down everyone’s throat. And thanks to the influx of the Teabaggers, that agenda is even more extreme than ever before. In short, the Teapublicans are going to do their thing without hesitation or reservation, so the Democrats can make huge strides by simply making sure the American people see that agenda for what it really is. In fact, it’s so simple that I’m sure the Democrats will find a way to f*ck it up (again, I refer to Lowell’s post about messaging and marketing). Seriously, this shouldn’t be difficult given the personalities (with chips on their shoulders) who are coming to Washington.
2. Infighting. It’s going to be a bare fisted slugfest to see who can take the mantle of most extreme in the Teapublican party. While the old Republican party was VERY good at controlling their people, it’s not looking quite so good this time around. Not only can the Teabaggers sense that they are not far from toppling the old leadership, but they are also sure enough of themselves that they’d go it on their own if their agenda isn’t strictly adhered to. Neither branch of the Teapublican party is willing to compromise with the Democrats (see above for how that’s an advantage), but they’re already showing signs of not wanting to compromise ANY of their individual beliefs, which will certainly place members of the party at odds with each other. They’re even talking about it in sound bites, with the vague (and sometimes not so vague) “my way or the highway” rhetoric.
Because the Teapublicans are so dead set on their principles, there will be plenty of opportunities to drive the wedge in deeper. And the deeper it goes, the uglier the infighting will be. They’ll be on the look out for this scenario so it won’t be easy to take advantage of, but there will certainly be opportunities. Can the Democrats make the most of those opportunities? If the recent past is any indicator, the answer is no – the Democrats will probably step in and try to forge a compromise for the two sides and in process make themselves look like idiots.
3. Incompetence. Some come from the Palin school of mis-education while others will be blinded by ideology. Either way the end result will be very bad governance. Since we’re still in a time of economic crisis, and we’ve still got corporations screwing up the environment, our savings, our housing, and our credit, and we’re still fighting wars on terror and drugs, and we’ve still got immigration issues, and on and on, it should be easy to spot bad leadership. In fact, compared to Obama’s (usually) good leadership these guys should look like absolute morons.
But this all gets back to messaging and marketing (yes, see Lowell’s post again). If Faux News can convince their loyal followers that bad leadership is actually good, and then those followers make such noise that the MSM actually starts believing it (or is too scared to confront Faux and the Right), then their bad leadership will be rewarded again in two years. So again, the Teapublicans incompetence will be a golden opportunity for the Democrats, but only if they figure out how to take advantage of it. And again, history shows that the Democrats will find a way to let them off the hook.
Seriously, I’m thinking if the cards are played well, the pendulum will swing back just as far to the left in two years. But they need to be played well, not dropped on the floor – face up. So given the recent track record of the Democratic party (see yesterday’s election results if you need a refresher) I’m going to have to lean heavily toward Obama being a one-and-done President. Please don’t misunderstand – I really do hope I’m wrong. And I will be if the Dems can take advantage of the bounty of political opportunities the Teapublicans will provide. But they’ve got to nail the opportunities they’ve been missing so often.