The stunning upset in Massachusetts should send shock waves through the Democratic Party nationwide. The people have spoken, yet again, with the election of Republican Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate and as such, have soundly rejected the leadership of the president and the Democratically-controlled Congress.
The elections in Virginia and New Jersey this past November should have been a wake-up call for Democrats. Democratic candidates were defeated because the people thought the candidates, like the leadership of the Democratic Party, were out of touch with the needs of the citizenry. While Republicans focused on the economy, job creation, deficit reduction and responsibility, Democrats were bogged down -- almost exclusively -- on health care, blaming Bush and defending their failed economic policies.
What a difference a year makes. In January of 2009, Obama supporters and many in the media thought they were witnessing a messianic politician’s ascent to the presidency. The Democrats in January of 2009 thought they would rule for 40 years. They took the election of 2008 as a “mandate” to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. Then reality set in.
The Democrats set forth an agenda that was 180 degrees opposite of what needed to be done and what the American people wanted to see done.
The Democrats manufactured a “crisis” on health care, when we have an honest to goodness economic crisis and recession -- the worst since the Great Depression. The American people kept asking themselves the following question: “what good is ‘affordable’ health care if you do not have a job to pay for it?”
I honestly do not believe Democrats can recover in 2010 from the tremendous damage that has been done to their ability to govern, or lack there of, due to their own arrogance and abuse of power.
The American people are more than disappointed with the “change” they got this past year and are worried about their future and the condition of the economy. But it’s not over, the people will continue to let their frustration be known this coming November in the midterm elections.
In light of the Democrats sudden reversal in fortunes, we will see Democratic incumbents, (acting on an instinct for self- preservation) start to distance themselves from the president as well as from Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. In the coming days and weeks, I believe you will also see more forced retirements of incumbents and more intra-party primary challenges to the status quo. In short, the Democrats are in big trouble and are in disarray.
Republicans must be ready to capitalize on the opportunity that they are being given by the Democrat’s incompetence in leadership and governance.
As for the GOP? Here’s my advice for my fellow Republicans: Don’t get too full of yourselves and think 2010 will be a cakewalk. Field the best candidates you can find, hone your message, unite the party under a common theme of fiscal responsibility, job creation, debt reduction, security, and compassion and raise as much money as you possibly can and do it as quickly as possible.
The success of the GOP in 2010 lies in the economy and the Party’s ability to restore it. The American people want to feel confident again. They are scared about their economic future and the future of their children. The GOP needs to restore hope and confidence to the people and let them know help is on the way.
What has become crystal clear is that, just like the emperor in the old fairy tale, the president has “no clothes” when it comes to governing but not only that, he also has squandered his promise, prestige and power and thus, has “no coattails” either.
Bradley A. Blakeman served in the administration of President George W. Bush from 2001-4. He currently teaches public policy at Georgetown University. He is a frequent contributor to the Fox Forum.
Former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush