After the Democratic Party took back control of congress in 2006, the 2008 presidential election emerged not just as an opportunity, but also as a test for the Democrats. The 2006 election had defeated, but more importantly, discredited, the Republicans. Had the Democrats been unable to win in 2008, it therefore would have raised the questions of whether the Democrats could ever win, and what the point of the Democratic Party was. Fortunately, Barack Obama got elected president in 2008, so these questions have been avoided.
Ironically, the Republican Party, by portraying President Obama as seeking to bring about the socialist apocalypse, and by stressing the strength of anti-Obama among voters, has spun itself into a similar corner today. Raising expectations is never wise in politics, but the Republicans have done just that in the last eighteen months. They have made this more of a problem by overstating the danger represented by the Obama presidency.
They have also raised expectations of victory in November through the constant droning of the right wing echo machine, i.e. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck.
The author here has made some very good points to ponder. He has made the case that Republicans have painted themselves into a corner again. Remember the box they put themselves in with financial reform? It is hard to justify some of their stances. I want to share his paragraph thesis statements in outline form.
1. [Raising expectations… by overstating the danger represented by the Obama presidency] has led to a context where if the Republican tsunami of 2010 fails to materialize in November, even loyal Republican voters will be forced to ask some tough questions about the relevance and future of their party.
2. Obama’s poll numbers, which fell steadily through the last half of 2009, have been reasonably steady this year. The tea party movement has not brought new energy into the Republican Party or become a new force in American politics, but it may continue to derail the Republican Party from nominating electable candidates.
3. The Republican Party has added to their problems by taking policy positions, notably their almost blind allegiance to the health insurance, finance and oil industries, which have pushed voters away and made Republican attacks on Obama easier to dismiss, particularly for those in the political center.
4. The anger and fear that many Americans feel towards the Obama administration is real. Obama, after all, very overtly campaigned on a theme of change, and change always scares some people. However, the Republican Party will remain unable to use this anger and fear to their advantage until they move away from the policies and positions which the American people have voted against in the last two elections.
The fear of Obama that the tea baggers hoped would sweep the nation like wildfire has only been a flash in the pan. Most Americans find it hard to believe that we are facing a socialist nightmare with the policy changes that Obama and Congress have implemented so far. Republicans continue to shout about Obama, but most of the noise just isn’t ringing true. Those folks who are vehemently frothing at the mouth over Obama are the 30% who would still vote for George W. Bush, and would never vote for Obama, or any other Democrat for that matter.