Are we Democrats turning into Chicken Little--“the sky is falling, the sky is falling!” Yeah, maybe more than we care to think.
Democrats are well aware that the average loss for a party in power in the off year is 26 House seats. We are well aware that our losses in governorships and state legislatures could be horrendous, just before redistricting. We know that some independent analysts found 60 House seats in play and 55 of them are ours. We don’t like the fact that it takes 60 votes to rename a post office in our current U.S. Senate and that we will be lucky to have three to five fewer senators than we have now.
The voters were scared and angry and upset and wanted change in 2008. It is 2010, and they are still scared and angry and want change. The trouble is George Bush’s legacy remains, but he is gone and quiet as a church mouse in Texas. And Dick Cheney is still trying to justify himself, working on his memoirs and ranting whenever he is provided a chance. Both are effectively off voters’ radar and Democrats are front and center. [Check out our editorial cartoons on Dick Cheney.]
We need to learn some lessons here. First and foremost, as angry as we are at being left the mess of the past eight years, voters don’t want to hear about it. They get it but they don’t care. It is up to us to fix it.
Second, they also understand that the Republicans are the party of “NO”--that they are standing in the doorway of progress. They don’t much like Republicans right now (Republicans’ positive is 30 percent, Democrats’ 35 percent, according to a June NBC/Wall Street Journal poll). They don’t much trust the Republicans to “care about them” or fight for their interests.
Voters don’t exactly find Republicans John Boehner and Mitch McConnell the fountains of new, enlightening ideas and the answer to their economic problems.
[See who donated the most to McConnell.]
Right now, however, this upcoming election is much more about “us” than it is about “them.”
Third, and very important, Republicans are making mistake after mistake opposing reform of Wall Street. And Democrats are doing a relatively lousy job of calling them on it. By 71-20 percent voters believe Republicans represent the interests of large corporations, not the interests of average Americans. And voters believe by 55-38 percent that Congress is not doing enough to protect consumers, over going too far and limiting investment opportunities, according to a May NBC/WSJ poll.
[See a slide show on 5 key issues in the 2010 elections.]
Whether it is the filibuster of the financial reform bill, the “drill baby drill” mantra over big oil, their tax breaks for large corporations instead of small businesses, the Republicans are very vulnerable to a Main Street-Wall Street message. This confirms 100 years of history of who they fight for, who they vote for and--very important--it is of great concern to voters right now.
In November, a year when jobs and our economy will be front and center, the party that is battling for middle class families and consumers over the bankers, the mortgage giants, the Park Avenue crowd, will win the day. Those who support the big four mega-banks that control half of the market for mortgages and two-thirds of the market for credit cards will lose. Right now, the Republicans who are holding up real financial reform and consumer protection should be on the hot seat.
It is up to Democrats--our leadership and the White House--to make it crystal clear that it is the Republicans who can’t help themselves and continue to cozy up to Wall Street.