The enthusiasm gap is killing us.
Progressives need to get their butts in gear in the next 26 days to get their friends and family out to vote. There is a tough battle on to maintain Democratic control of the House and Senate.
While the outcome of the contest for control of Congress is in doubt, it is clear that there will be fewer liberals in the next Congress than there are now. The loss of liberal strength will force progressive advocates to answer tough questions about strategy for the next two years.
The nation’s problems aren’t going away, even though many liberal members of Congress will be leaving. The problem of global warming and the need for energy reform will get worse while the oil and coal companies become more powerful. The campaign finance system has completely melted down and Republicans in Congress will resist any move to challenge the power of shady independent expenditure groups like American Crossroads.
My guess is that congressional Republicans dominated by Tea Party fanatics will overreach and lose their strength in the 2012 elections, but this country could go to hell in a handbasket while we wait for the Republicans to implode.
Even if the Tea Party, formerly known as the Republican Party, gains strength in Congress, there are rays of sunshine behind the dark clouds. If Democrats maintain their control of Congress, Nancy Pelosi will hopefully remain speaker and use her power to keep the progressive agenda on the front burner even if the GOP has more members.
My guess is that President Obama’s efforts to improve the economy will start to pay off, federal tax collections will go up, and there will be less pressure to cut the funding for important social programs. Improvements in the economy will also reduce the racial and religious tensions that are tearing apart our country. And the reduced clout that the president will have in Congress may force him to promote his progressive agenda with executive orders instead of legislative proposals.
In the meantime, liberals should plan for the worst and hope for the best.