After two weeks of introspection, Democrats still do not have a clear, cohesive idea of how they will deal with the Republican shift in the House and losses in the Senate.
While asking questions such as “What should we do? Should we admit we’ve made mistakes? Should we accept our role as a villain? Should we just clear the decks and start over?” is an important process in recovering from political setbacks, employing the LeBron James technique only works to a certain point
Let’s be clear: November 2nd was not a referendum on Democratic policy.
It was the natural reaction to an economy that—while slowly recovering—has left an impression on a vast majority of Americans.
Americans are notoriously impatient when it comes to matters of the economy.
A broken legislative process and partisan bickering only fueled this impatience.
Because our system produces only two viable parties, it was inevitable that congressional seats would swing to the GOP.
Americans were not rejecting health care or a plethora of other Democratic-backed legislation.
Nor were they embracing the Republican agenda.
So what exactly were the American people thinking?
I could sit here and speculate and never even come close to the answer, but it’s important to realize that historically, power shifts between the Democrats and Republicans are cyclical.
Americans often vote for the minority party in midterms, not because they necessarily agree with the party’s platform, but because they are protesting current state of affairs.
Truman and Clinton both lost control of both the Senate and House in their midterm elections of 1946 and 1994, respectively.
Yet they both went on to win reelection in 1948 and 1996.
The current situation gives President Obama the opportunity to completely control and frame the debate.
He can be aggressive in his push for progressive and popular legislation against Republican resistance.
If they continuously reply “no,” as some have suggested, then the public is presented with a clear picture of what the Republicans stand for.
Moving to the center and yielding to the Republicans will not bode well for Democrats.
That was the fatal mistake they made for the past two years.
The progressive left base needs to be placated and rallied.
There’s nothing I can think of that would ignite the left more than a series of important progressive issues, such as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, being stopped by a Republican-controlled House.
All of this political posturing is not to say that Democrats shouldn’t be sensitive to the opinions of the center or the idea of actually getting things done in Washington, D.C.
In these times of political—but more importantly economic—hardship when we have the House to be controlled by a party with fundamentally flawed ideas on how to get out of this mess, Democrats need to be firm in their own beliefs.
If voters see passion, resilience and a thirst to effectively govern and legislate in these next two years from the Democrats, the political tides just might shift back.
But right now, Democratic politicians need to ask their Democratic constituents, “Should we be who you want us to be?”