Friday, May 19, 2006

Democrats and the Election

Common wisdom right now is that the Democrats will retake the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate in the next election. Polls indicate that the President is less than popular and Republicans in general are not doing much better. This is a bit misleading since the same polls show that the Democrats have their own problems. Arianna Huffington put it this way:
While 56 percent of Americans say they would prefer to see Democrats take back control of Congress, a majority of the public also said that Democrats have not offered enough of a contrast to Bush and the GOP, with just 39 percent approving of the job Congressional Democrats are doing.

In other words, if the Democrats can make 2006 a referendum on Bush, they could make significant gains. But if Republicans are able to take the focus off the president and onto the question of what the Democrats are offering as an alternative, the hopes for a 2006 Dem landside could sink faster than the box office for Poseidon.

And, from the looks of things, Democrats are playing right into the GOP's hands. Buoyed by the polls, they are already starting to sound like incumbents, and incumbents are by nature hyper-cautious. Witness Nancy Pelosi's repeated refusal to give Tim Russert a straight answer about repealing the Bush tax cuts.

This is nothing new. Polls taken months before an election usually show that the population would vote for a generic candidate but shy away from a real person. In the Spring of 1992 polls showed substantial support for a third party candidate but when Ross Perot declared that he was running this support quickly evaporated.

Currently, voters would like to see someone wise and fair running, possibly Jimmy Stewart but instead they get the same old party hacks.

It doesn't help that the Democrats have spent years refusing to define themselves. I lost count of how many times I saw a Democrat say that "We don't have to say what we would do, we just have to oppose Bush." Not an uplifting image of the loyal opposition during a time of war.

One thing that the Democrats would most certainly do is start impeachment proceedings but they are being quiet about that. Even Rep. John Conyers who held mock impeachment proceedings last year has removed any references to it from his web page.

Beyond that, what will happen? points out how split Democrats are over major issues. The most that they are likely to accomplish is stalling the President on new legislation.

This might not be all bad for the Republicans. Many conservatives feel that the party has gone mushy and needs some time out of power to regain its edge. There used to be a time when "conservative" meant "fiscal conservative" but those days are long gone. It would be nice to see the Reagan wing of the party reemerge.

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