Obama's alleged doom was Reagan's gain | Wis.Community

Obama's alleged doom was Reagan's gain

[img_assist|nid=43830|title=Little people|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=200|height=150]So the conventional wisdom is now that Barack Obama simply cannot win reelection in 2012 if the unemployment rate doesn't drop significantly by then. His handling of the economy is poohed by two thirds of polling respondents and right now fundy Christian nutcase Rick Perry is riding high in polls as the Republican challenger apparent and a nominee who would beat Obama in the general election.

Oh, really? Well, no one could say times are good, but a key fact seems to have escaped the attention of most pundits:

Ignoring the fact that he inherited an economy on life support, the unemployment rate under Obama has dropped from around 10 percent to 9 percent. At the end of Reagan's first term, when a far less damaging recession was still causing grief, the national unemployment rate was EIGHT PERCENT. Yet Reagan won handily with his "stay the course" campaign. And Obama, unlike Reagan, is likely to face a GOP that has devolved far to the right and is turning off independents in many polls.

Of course, this time around could be different. For instance, while projected federal deficits are falling, even before mandated austerity cuts in federal spending, it's very possible tight-fisted fiscal policies and other oddities about the Great Recession could make the economy worse in the coming year. Indeed, Republicans have more or less openly hoped that will be the case, and appear to have worked legislatively (or, rather stalled in their work)  in order to encourage that outcome.

But in American politics, it's still a matter of better the devil you know than the devil you don't. While teabaggers and Republicans in general are likely to remain very sour on Obama it isn't at all clear that independents will react that way, especially given the prospect of a far right-wing GOP hegemony in Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court. All politics is local, and it's quite possible many legislators of both parties could be replaced in the 2012 elections. All the more reason why the vast swing vote of moderates in this country are more probably going to look at Obama as the devil they do know. Or as insurance against a complete wingnut takeover of the federal government they've worked so hard to wreck.

Of course it would help if Obama turns more toward populist themes that banner job creation and other needs of the average working American, a direction he does seem to be bending towards. Even more important, though, is the theme of the Democratic Party in general. Congressional Democratic candidates must come out of the gate like the party's progressive wing, in a very populist manner with clear lines in the sand.

The Democrats need to remind voters that their party and their president basically rescued the USA from the brink of a total economic collapse, and that they are continuing to work hard on the recovery despite formidable GOP intransigience. They need to list very specific steps they will take if awarded a true working majority (which, thanks to the US Senate supermajority requirement on almost every vote, Democrats do not currently have). And they need to hold Republicans acocuntable for that party's insane posturing, such as pushing hard to cut taxes for billionaires while refusing Obama's call to retain payroll tax cuts for lower and middle class working families.

The message needs to conclude by saying the recovery won't get us where we all want to be until we clear away fringe Republicans and all Republicans who want to hand over even more power to wealthy plutocrats and giant corporations. In short, they need to take the gloves off and start punching hard for the rights of the individual and the little guy over the rights of special interests and faceless puppeteers.

Published

September 4, 2011 - 2:43pm

Author

randomness