The dust has settled in the struggle between conservatives and liberals and we are beginning to see the changes in our political landscape. Yesterday, the Republicans Party picked up the governor’s office in Virginia and New Jersey, even though President Barack Obama had campaigned a bit for both of those state’s Democratic nominee. Yesterday’s results may call attention to the fact that Mr. Obama is not able to overcome the rest of the Democratic Party’s inability to appeal to their Democratic base. This should be a warning to all the Democratic politicians facing reelection next year, two years into Mr. Obama’s administration, at all levels of the government from the local to the national.
It is a safe assumption that most of the Democrats have safe seats. But a good percentage will face strong competition from Republican or conservative challengers. Over the next year, these politicians will have to decide how closely they want to align themselves with Mr. Obama’s agenda and the rest of the party leadership. Their constituents are watching their choices and actions very closely.
But it isn’t all roses for the conservatives. Republican Party politicians suffered their own share of setbacks. An upstate New York district that the Republicans have controlled for more than a century went to Democrat Bill Owens won a special election after conservative activists went public with their political bickering. Staunch conservatives pressured the Republican nominee to quit the race and supported a third party candidate. Indeed, every incumbent should take note that the voting public is ready for change, any change in the political climate, if they feel their representatives, regardless of party affiliation, aren’t working for the public’s benefits. The voting public is more cynical now than ever. People want tangible, real solutions to the problems facing the country and not just hard line dogma that does nothing but inspire people to dig their heals in.
What all of us should have learned from yesterday’s elections is that issues can trump ideology. Issues like the three Gs, god, guns, and gays, take a back seat when the entire country is in a recession. In polling-place surveys, the overwhelming majority in Virginia and New Jersey said they were worried about the economy. And even though there are signs of economic recovery, good jobs have not returned just yet, and trouble looms if people are still not seeing some kind of improvement in their bottom line by the next time they go to the polls.
Yes people were ready for change last year when they elected Mr. Obama. But people are still waiting for that change and if the Democrats that were so overwhelmingly elected last year aren’t able to produce the change they promised then maybe they need a reminder that they only have so much time to dither in their political roles before they too will be replaced. It isn’t so much that Republicans can win as Democrats can lose and they can lose big. The biggest advantage the Democratic Party had in previous elections was the record of former President George W. Bush. But Mr. Bush wasn’t going to stay the albatross around the conservative’s neck forever. And as much as people might like Mr. Obama as a person, he alone does not a party make.
Today the airwaves were thick with conservative politicians and analyst and political pundits and party leaders bragging about their party’s political victories. The blue state and red state numbers aren’t really going to change that much. Numbers wise, there should be little impact to the legislative agenda. But from an incumbent who should want to stay in his or her job’s perspective the impact can be earth shattering. In order to appeal to a broader political base, Democratic contenders might try to move more to the center and abandoning their own political base. Such a move is bound to deflate their core constituents and no matter how much a Democratic candidate might try to look conservative, the Democratic can’t out conserve a conservative.
The truth of the matter is that this should be a wakeup call for both Democrats and Republicans to do more to work together for the benefit of the people. It might sound like a common sense concept. Every politician promises to work across the aisle for the benefit of the American people. But in practice, the politician that is ready to do what is best for the people is truly a novel concept. There will always be a tendency for the politician to do only that which protects the politician’s job. Sincere change for the better will always be hard when half the people in politics can benefit more by gumming up the works and keeping the status quo. Every year we hear how the people want change and the political spectrum changes because people want the bums out. This year is no different. Next year will just be more of the same.