The consensus seems to be that the elections were primarily about a poor economy and the need to restore jobs. The Republicans pandered to this fear but I have looked hard and wide to find what it is that was either practical or substantive they have offered to correct the reality this fear is based on. Inferring that more tax and spending cuts will somehow “restore or country” is a hollow offering. You can’t restore jobs by keeping the Bush tax cuts in place and despite what Libertarians and most Conservatives politicians tell you, federal spending does indeed create jobs at this critical point in time.
Yet the Republicans pulled this election off in their favor NOT for what they can do to make things better but by frequently and loudly calling Obama and Pelosi “bad people” and insisting that those who voted for their agenda just two years ago made a serious mistake. Clearly there were enough of these poorly informed, nervous fickle voters who bought into this.
But the die has been cast and now the Republicans must produce results that reveal they have a clue on how to cure what ills this nation’s economic woes. I wonder if those who cast their votes for them this year will give them more time than they gave Obama and the Democrats to turn this train wreck around. Let there be no denying either that the actions taken by the Democrats have indeed averted an economic crisis that would have more closely resembled that which the economy faced following the stock market crash of 1929.
It took ten plus years for the effects of the Great Depression to disappear. Why people today are oblivious of this history and are expecting a turnaround in less than 22 months following the inauguration of Barack Obama is perhaps due to our failed education system. “What you don’t know can’t hurt you” is a saying that simply doesn’t apply here however.
But the education system isn’t the primary cause. Too many of the voters that came out this time were older voters; many who were touched by the 25% unemployment rate eighty years ago. Their recollection of history I suspect was offset by the misinformation of the Right and the poor messaging of the President and members of his Party regarding their real accomplishments. How else can you explain why most of these changed votes would cast a ballot that weighs against their own interests?
It would also take a large amount of apathy for voters to disregard the reality that the Republicans had dug their heels in and blocked every significant piece of legislation that would have created jobs and offset many economic woes from those who did lose their jobs are whose job was threatened. The stimulus bill not only kept a lot of teachers, firemen and cops at their jobs but it created work in the private sector with infrastructure work and creating new 21st century jobs in the renewable energy fields. But regaining the 14 million jobs lost under Bush/Cheney and what carried over into the Obama administration from the failed policies of Republicans hasn’t come quick enough for Main Street to feel the recovery as Wall Street has.
This failure to see better results can partially be laid at the feet of the President and many reluctant Democratic congressional representatives. Their lack of boldness to pursue a greater range with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act may have contributed to this probability. “Mr. Obama’s problem wasn’t lack of focus; it was lack of audacity”, Paul Krugman noted in his most recent Op-Ed piece. “At the start of his administration he settled for an economic plan that was far too weak. He compounded this original sin both by pretending that everything was on track and by adopting the rhetoric of his enemies” stated the Pulitzer prize-winning economist.
So now the American public and the rest of the world must watch over the next two years to see what decisions the Republicans gains in Congress will achieve to restore our economy. Hopefully voters will pay more attention this time because a lot of what the Democrats started will gain fruition over this time. The recent jobs report two days after the elections shows some 151,000 new private sector jobs, an increase for the 5th straight quarter. If this trend continues it will inspire confidence with other employers and people will begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Will they overlook the obstructionist tactics of the Republicans during the early rough going of this turn around, allowing the GOP to take credit for a recovery they in large part created conditions that necessitated such a recovery? It’s highly likely considering what just transpired..
So will the Democrats and those of us who have backed Obama and Pelosi’s efforts stay focused on message this time before 2012 rolls around and keep the narrative away from the Right? Will what remains of congressional Democrats and the President act more boldly and not kow-tow to some notion of partisanship where they give and receive nothing in return from Republicans? One can only hope, as we did when we sent Barack Obama to the White House two years ago.