Perhaps the Democrats will be able to avoid losing the Senate tomorrow. I hope so, because if they don’t, we are in for a terrible two years. (Although I think we will probably be in good shape for a better four years following that.)
But even if the Democrats hold on in the Senate, things don’t look good for the House, governorships, and state legislatures. What a contrast to just six years ago, and to a lesser extent even just two years ago. What happened?
I don’t always agree with President Obama, and on some things I strongly disagree with him, and in some areas I think he has been a disappointment. But I also think he has done a lot of good things. His approval numbers have been low, but I think that is mainly because of a combination of the old six-years-in-office jinx, and an economy that although better, has not greatly improved for the working and middle class. If the economy were better, his approval rating would be at least ten points higher, all other issues not-withstanding.
If the Republicans sweep tomorrow, I believe the lesson can be taught in two words:
It has long been known that the GOP determined even before Obama took the oath of office that they were not going to allow him any legislative victories, and were not going to even compromise with him, much less actually give him anything he could take credit for. In stark contrast to the conservative All-American mantras of “Do what’s best for the country” and “Support our president In times of war,” Republicans have done every single thing they can to disrespect the office of president and deny him any credibility. This started, of course, with Republican leaders giving a nod and a wink to all the baloney about Obama’s birth certificate and him not being American born and not even being eligible for the office. GOP leaders did nothing to stop the Limbaugh-Fox Machine from blatantly lying about Obama and saying the most racist, disgusting, and in the case of Michelle, sexist, things imaginable, the Office of the Presidency be damned.
And in both chambers of Congress, the GOP game plan has been clear: obstruct obstruct obstruct. Lie about legislation. Don’t allow votes. Threaten filibusters (because now you don’t actually have to pull it off) and require everything to get 60 votes to pass the Senate. Make up wild conspiracies and scandals and hold endless hearings. Put “holds” on nominations, even if you originally forwarded the name. Block nominations for sub-cabinet posts, agency directors, ambassadors, and judges, no matter how well qualified and even if it is clear they would be confirmed if allowed to come to a vote. And then when there’s a problem at the department, blame Obama’s lack of leadership.
Even in foreign affairs, criticize everything the president does. Especially when it comes to war. And even if you actually either agree with him, or don’t have the slightest idea what you would do differently. It doesn’t matter. Call him weak and incompetent anyway.
And here is the real key: Don’t ever, under any circumstances, actually propose an alternative. Forget constructive criticism. Don’t allow compromise. Moderation is evil and extremism is to be rewarded. Don’t even admit there is a problem.
The Republicans are not there to help most Americans– and certainly not the middle and working classes or the poor– or move the country ahead. They are there for the sole purpose of making government so bad, that people will get mad at government and vote for the people who say that government is the enemy. (All with the goal of protecting the upper 1% while keeping the rest of us down, of course.)
Republicans can do this because they know the mainstream media is irresponsible while cocooned in their little echo chamber, and scared of being labeled “liberal.” No matter how obvious it is that the Republicans are blocking everything and taking obstructionism to unprecedented levels, the media will continue to report that “both sides do it” and “this is typical Washington politics.”
And in the absence of hearing the truth, when the country is on the wrong track, people will blame the president, even when the president is at least trying to set it right and it is Congress that is making any progress—even compromised little steps forward—impossible.
One more thing: do not try and tell me that Democrats do this too. That is absolutely false. There is no question that the obstructionism the GOP has employed against Obama has reached unprecedented levels many orders of magnitude above anything ever done before.
From now on, in high school American government classes and college political science courses, the major lesson to be taught must be: If you want to win elections and don’t care about the country, OBSTRUCTIONISM WORKS.