I remember the day the Democrats lost Congress in 1994. It was as if we were about to attend many funerals at once. The Democrats set up an outplacement organization at DNC headquarters, where many Congressional staff members could apply for jobs all over the country. I don't expect that this year's midterm elections will be quite the tsunami that ’94 was, but what is about to take place in 2010 symbolizes a strong lesson about power and political control.
The storm that is brewing won’t hit Democrats alone. Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer has already announced that he, too, is resigning. Many are attributing this to the Tea Party contingent within the state that believes he operates too much from a consensus middle. The majority of high school civics classes teach the concept that most politics is cyclical, and this is no exception. However, due to the 24-hour news cycle, blogs and the availability of opinion, we are seeing political mood swings from a large part of the population. Ben Franklin once said, “a week is a long time in politics,” and that was before the invention of cable news, the Internet, fax machines and cell phones!
Microphones magnify any message -- as does video on YouTube. If Connecticut Democrat Senator Chris Dodd even appears to receive VIP status on a mortgage -- whether true or false -- it gets amplified everywhere. Radio talk show hosts like Scott Hennen have been banging away day and night at Byron Dorgan on his local “Common Sense Club” show. It is hard for a Democrat in a red state to stay in office. Senator Dorgan, who just announced he will retire this year, is a perfect example.
Some Democrats, like Harry Reid, are simply victims of circumstance. After Senator Reid became Majority Leader, his state began to experience huge foreclosure problems and large unemployment figures. Due to that, it has become nearly impossible for him to look like any sort of hero. Nancy Pelosi is doing what it takes in the rough and tumble world of politics, but as a woman, she has been and will continue to be, typecast as a "shrew" by her political opponents. Speaker Pelosi would be wise to start running some ads exposing the Republicans’ lack of a plan to fix the nation’s health care system before it’s too late.
I thought I had lived through the most interesting years in politics during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. But, it’s looking increasingly likely that 2010 is going to be a wild ride. I believe the Democrats will lose roughly 23 seats in the House, and 3 or 4 more in the Senate. Losing all those House seats made Bill Clinton a much more responsive politician, and it may do the same for President Obama. America likes to be governed from the middle, and not from the outer limits of either wing.
In light of the upcoming midterms elections President Obama finds himself in a bit of a bind: He must make good on certain promises he made during his campaign, such as passing climate legislation and allowing gays to serve openly in the military. Failure to do so would create the same problem he capitalized on in 2008, which is that loyal Democrats will stay home on Election Day. On the other hand, he must find a way to appease the party moderates. Rather than moving hastily to immigration reform and more spending, he should follow health care reform by passing feel-good legislation that will ensure that Blue Dogs and the middle part of the party show up to vote for Democrats in November. That is really the only chance Democrats have of not getting blown out in 2010.
Ellen Ratner is Washington bureau chief for Talk Radio News Service and a Fox News contributor.