So the bloodbath is over. I remember waking up the day after Bush won reelection in 2004 and had a similar feeling, only we didn't hold the White House. It's been discussed on this blog and others what we thought the mistakes were since 2008, so I won't go into it all of it again. A good result was that the Blue Dogs lost almost fifty percent of their caucus while the CPC held onto almost ninety five percent. The Third Way idiots are going to beat their chests, but their way leads only to more disaster for Democrats, so ignore Harold Ford, please.
The question is: Will either side draw the right lessons from this midterm election?
Mr. Obama, and his party, have to do a far better job of explaining their vision and their policies. Mr. Obama needs to break his habits of neglecting his base voters and of sitting on the sidelines and allowing others to shape the debate. He needs to do a much better job of stiffening the spines of his own party’s leaders.
He has made it far too easy for his opponents to spin and distort what Americans should see as genuine progress in very tough times: a historic health care reform, a stimulus that headed off an even deeper recession, financial reform to avoid another meltdown.
Mr. Obama has a lot of difficult work ahead of him. The politics in Washington will likely get even nastier. Before he can hope to build the minimal bipartisan consensus needed to move ahead, Mr. Obama will have to rally more Americans to the logic of his policies.
The question for the Republicans now is whether they are going to bask in triumphalism or get down to the real work of governing. It is one thing to pander and obstruct when you are out of power. With a divided government, it won’t take long for voters to demand that they explain their plans.
The DFH's will be blamed for many things after this election loss because that's what the Beltway demands, but the Obama administration has a lot to answer for as well. Now it's time for the President to stop the bipartisan calls from the Beltway, because what the Cryin' Boehners mean when they say "bipartisanship" is that they get what they want or nothing happens. They've already said it, both last night and today. Obama has to keep fighting to create jobs as Paul Krugman writes and get the base back into the game. Protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Make conservatives explain to Americans why they insist on trying to privatize Social Security. What Republicans did well was target elderly voters with all the nonsense about death panels to scare theme to vote for them.
The right understood they'd lost the youth vote, the ethnic and racial minority vote and usually the female vote. The only demographic vote they had going for them was the elderly. And they've done a masterful job of making seniors feel like they're doing something for their grandkids by denying them health care and ensuring that there will be no safety net for them when they get old. You have to give them credit for that.
And you have to blame the Democrats for failing to see that was a huge part of the Republican strategy going into the mid-terms in which the voting demographic always skews older.
So, here we are. People keep asking me what this means for the progressive movement and I reply --- nothing. Progressives are in this for the long haul. And anyone with any experience knows that the country is polarized between the right and the left, with a bunch of people in between who don't know what to think. All we can do is keep trying out different ways to persuade them that their best bet is to go with the progressive philosophy and require our elected politicians to figure out how to turn that philosophy into governance. It's a long term battle that has periods of intense confrontation and calm conciliation, but it never really ends.
Messaging has to actually start happening. There was a time when America knew that conservatives had destroyed the country, heck, a lot of the "independents" voting in 2008 were actually embarrassed republican voters, but nothing came out of the White House to bolster that truth. Democrat need people to speak up and stand for their values as a party that supports the working class and not the Wall Streeters.
Wouldn't it be nice to see Howard Dean back at the helm of the DNC? Tim Kaine is a disaster.
This isn't about throwing a bone to the base to make them happy, it's about doing the right thing for America -- fight for jobs, fight for opportunity, fight for equality under the law. Democrats believe that government can make people's lives better, so embrace and fight for that belief. If Democrats are in it to protect Goldman Sachs, they might as well flip to the other team.
The administration needs to stop pretending they're going to woo the Right, and start looking at their reelection battle the way Bush saw his -- as a time to mobilize the base and get them engaged in an epic war. Luckily, they won't have to deal with the Beltway Blowhards screaming about "bipartisanship", since that's no longer operative in a GOP-led House. The media only cares about bipartisanship when the Democrats have both the White House and Congress.
The decimation of the Blue Dogs means that our own internal war will be quick and easy. It's kind of hard to argue that Dems should move Right, when the Blue Dog caucus went from 54 members to 26 literally overnight. So sure, we'll have to deal with Third Way's corporatist bullshit, but aside from that, we can focus on the important thing -- and that's beating back the Boehner House and the crazed teabaggers that have taken over the GOP.
Fox News was another big winner and I'm not talking about ratings. They helped form an opposition party to fight against a newly elected Democratic President and that's never happened before as Neiwert pointed out earlier:
This clearly was The Fox Election. This was a political victory entirely engineered by a fake "news network" that in reality is a relentless and powerful right-wing propaganda machine. Democrats need to wake up and figure out how they're going to beat it.
The "liberal elite" media and the MSM need to understand this too instead of being defended by other journalists.
Blue America fought hard this last cycle and will continue to do so with your help, and you were magnificent. It's time to move forward. It will not be easy, but I think we are all up for the challenge. Bring it on.