The 2010 Midterms: What If The Democrats Win?

The main stream media has once again began repeating the right wing talking points about the 2010 elections, saying that the Democrats stand to lose a lot of seats. But what if they are wrong? What if they were wrong like they were in 2006? What if their predictions are as underwhelming as they were for the Democratic gains in 2008?

Now, I’ll grant the pundits this, the historical pattern in America is for the party in the White House to lose seats during midterm elections as evident by 15 of the last 17 cycles. The last midterm comparable to this one, where a young reformer named William Jefferson Clinton was in the White House, the Democrats lost 52 House and 8 Senate seats. If the Republicans fail to pick up this many seats, it has to be considered a Democratic victory. Never the less, instead of losing seats, what if the Democrats actually gained sets in one or both chambers? What would that mean?

If the Democrats, progressives in particular manage to pull off an upset of this magnitude, it would rock the political establishment, and likely cement a definite mandate for a change in course in the country for a generation. I know, people say it can’t be done, but why? Why isn’t it possible, because the pundits say so? Because the right wing think tanks are determined to disenfranchise progressive turnout?

The Republican Playbook for 2010

Until recently, there were reasons to believe the pundits might be right. The Republicans have been using a playbook for 2010 that is virtually identical to the one they used to hamstring the last reformer president the country had: Bill Clinton.

This playbook consists of 5 distinct steps:
Step 1: Avoid Responsibility for GOP Failures
Step 2: Increase Negativity
Step 3: “Throw the Bums Out!”
Step 4: Make Formal Pledge of Grandiose Promises
Step 5: Retake Congress

Following a huge upswing in negativity back then, the number of eligible voters dwindled from 55% in 1992 to 39% in 1994. An energized conservative base managed to stifle turnout with everyone except themselves, convincing progressive reformers, moderates, and independents alike to stay home, and they swept both chambers of congress. When people vote, Republicans lose, and they know this. The end result was that there was no chance real reform could survive the legislative process, no strong bills could reach the desk of President Clinton. This pattern has actually been around since at least the 70s, whenever Democrats are in the majority, the Republicans (usually the conservative base) will do everything in their power to attack, derail, obstruct, and delay. Recall the October Surprise?

They are trying to follow that same pattern again in the hopes of hamstringing President Obama and permanently derailing the movement for change and reform in America for their corporate masters. To achieve this, the conservatives have engaged in a reckless policy of unprecedented attacks and obstruction. There has been a record number of filibusters. 31 times as many nominees for key positions have been stalled for 3 or more months as there were held up by the Democrats for Bush, nominees that were actually qualified for their jobs instead of strict party loyalists. They managed to stall a very moderate health care reform bill for 11 months, partially thanks to an actual manual on obstruction leaked a few months ago.

Further, GOP leaders have managed to infiltrate and completely take over the once libertarian Tea Party movement. They now have legions of rapid-response boots on the ground, people that obey orders from Freedomworks and regurgitate Republican talking points and propaganda from Fox News without question. They have been energized, and despite most of the rhetoric, in the end, these rabid Tea Baggers will vote Republican, regardless of how they try to claim independence right now.

Reasons for Progressive Optimism

A couple of things have changed however. Scott Brown took the US Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts. This gives a united GOP Senate 41 votes, which means they can literally block anything they want to, the Republicans now own the US Senate.

41 Senators from our 21 smallest states – just over 10% of our population – can block bills dealing with not just health care, but with global warming and hazards that threaten the whole planet.”

-New York Times

Provided Democrats continue to bring bills to the floor that demonstrate genuine change and real reform, and do it in a very public way, it will force the GOP to filibuster and obstruct over and over again, again, in a very public way. This will continue to diminish the viability of Republican/Tea Party candidates, casting them in their true light: as defenders of giant, multinational corporations instead of the American people.

Health care reform was passed. This is not the only legislative accomplishment either. The US House under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi has also passed the stimulus bill, cap and trade, and wall street reform, as well as a host of other important reforms. Despite the unprecedented obstruction, this demonstrates the willingness to change the course of the country.

There are positive indicators on the road to economic recovery as well.  If the current job growth trends continue, more jobs will be created in 2010 than during the entire Bush presidency.

Finally, the emotional scars of what the Republicans did during their time in power under Bush are still too fresh. Conservative economic philosophy under their leadership, in particular the culture of unbridled corporate greed and governmental deregulation that took place led us to the brink of collapse, causing the Great Recession and millions of jobs losses. Conservative foreign policy showed the country the Republicans will flat out lie to their faces to illegally invade a foreign country, which cost an enormous fortune, destroyed our national reputation, and made the country less safe. Conservative domestic policy brought us domestic espionage, ‘love it or leave it’, and a continual erosion of civil liberties.

So I ask again, what do we have to lose? The Republicans are skillfully maneuvering the Tea Party movement into their ranks, but ultimately they only want to double down on the failed policies of George Bush. If good people stand up and confront them on the actual positions across the board in 2010, it will become more and more apparent that the GOP candidates are the exact same as they were under Bush.

If the Democrats, and progressives in particular continue to remind folks that 2010 is a battle between the corporations and the American people, we can do something the pundits give us zero chance of…winning seats. If we can hold our own or actually pick up a few seats in Congress, we have a chance to change the course of the country for a generation.

This will not be easy, it will require donating early and generously (try for 10% if you can) to various campaigns and organizations. For instance the BoldProgressives, American Rights At Work,, the Center for American Progress, the Campaign for America’s Future, various issue-specific movements, as well as national, state, and local candidates who represent real change and reform. It will require activism both on social media sites and more importantly on the streets. It will require volunteering to knock on doors and man phone banks. It requires doing something. In the end, the only thing required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.


5 Responses to The 2010 Midterms: What If The Democrats Win?

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1Carolyn Schuk
    May 14, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    You are right and here’s another reason why: polls only reach people with conventional landline telephones — and answer them. The recent Wall St. Journal poll, 1000 respondents, included a mere 100 people whose primary phones are cell phones.

  2. Vote -1 Vote +1Marvin
    May 14, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    I agree with just about everything you’ve said…. I just don’t get how the GOP is supposed to get this big victory this November when they are to blame for all of the problems facing the country and they’ve done nothing since Obama has become President except for try to switch the blame to him and stop all progress.

    • Ole Ole Olson
      Vote -1 Vote +1Ole Ole Olson
      May 14, 2010 at 10:03 pm

      That’s how their propaganda works. They first shift the blame to ‘government’ instead of taking responsibility for their failures. Then they get as negative as possible, try to paint the reformers as the villains (their current red-scare term is ‘socialists’), then try to get even more conservative members of congress elected. It is the same trick they used in 1994 with great success (for their party, much to the detriment of the nation).

      I think if progressive Dems can remind voters of exactly what you said, they can put the conservative Republicans/Tea partiers on the defensive and at least minimize the damage.

  3. Vote -1 Vote +1Jazz
    May 14, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    First good comment from this user, if you’re willing to read it to get at the point within.

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1Coffee or Tea?
    May 15, 2010 at 6:59 am

    GOP sounds like Jim Jones and the cult. Their followers are drinking the kool-aid. LOL