Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Are Democrats Doomed?

Jennifer Rubin undertakes a scathing criticism in pointing the doomed future of Democrats. She unfairly lays blame for 'under whelming' economic growth to President Obama while ignoring how GOP managed to bring 'uncertainty' in economic recovery by playing 'Debt Ceiling' hostage game. That President Obama finally brought it to the end should be at least one reason to cheer this President on the occasion of President's day. Further, Rubin and critics like her would conveniently ignore how the original stimulus helped to stem devastating blows of 2008 recession. (White House did not do politically smart in touting its own report instead of referring to an external, credible report.)

The problem for Democrats have been:
- they could never expose successfully the GOP game of willfully bringing economic misery to Americans whether it is via political games on Debt Ceiling, or government shutdown or by not extending unemployment (and now GOP has become wiser here);
- Democrats could never highlight how GOP has been reluctant to improve upon ObamaCare but hell bend in bringing it down (registration by more Americans in ObamaCare for 2014 coverage will go a long way in blunting this handicap).

Truth is Tea Party propaganda, misinformation and active deception all have captivated sizable population of this country. Failure of Democrats to lay stark these games of Tea Party; that is the real nemesis of Democrats in coming days. President Obama, with all his vaunted communication abilities, essentially could not go over the partisan Congress to tell Americans convincingly what has been happening and how his course has been at least in the right direction compared to GOP.

As many have noted, whatever President Obama has achieved in these 5 years - tepid economic recovery while increasing federal tax collection, auto-bailout, stimulus and ObamaCare - all these are fragile achievements in some sense. As Rubin rightly points, Democrats do not have any leader apart from Hillary to protect and build on these achievements. If for whatever reasons Hillary Clinton cannot be the president in 2016; all these fragile achievements will be essentially destroyed by a Republican President. That is given. So apart from failing to decisively win the argument of Government Intervention (that lousy ObamaCare roll out, Dems will continue to pay for generations....); the second problem for Dems on hand is near lack of a visible leadership apart from Hillary Clinton on the national stage. If no Hillary, Democrats essentially concede the White House to Republicans - Rubin is right to contend that and at that point Obama's meager domestic achievements wash out.

The reason 'inequality' would not help Democrats is because Democrats do not have 'politically salable' answers to address this inequality. That GOP with its Tax Cuts for everything, protect rich guys at all costs and punish poor as much as possible; is no solution to the problem of 'inequality' is unlikely to bring votes to Democrats because they are yet to convince most Americans that 'inequality' is the true elephant in the room to address. Why would GOP talk about 'inequality' when they can get away with not bothering it? 

When President Obama's reaction to GOP opposition to unionization in Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga is "they are more worried about German Shareholders than America Workers"; it seems that Democrats still have not found a winning formula here. Why is that President did not say - "if protecting interests of German Shareholders is priority, then how about making American Workers as shareholders as well?". Sane minds in Democratic camp have been arguing for such inclusive policies as the remedy; but President Obama is not showing any intellectual dexterity in formulating the whole 'inequality' argument in this new and innovative framework so as his successors would get a winning hand to run with it.

Someone in Democratic circles need to do this job on a campaign trail. Just Paul Krugman Op-Eds with no support on 'hustings' will essentially mean Republicans win here. And that someone in Democratic circles need not to be only Hillary Clinton. Sensing the loop sided nature of Democratic aspirants in 2016; Congressional Democratic Leadership has an important responsibility to:
- keep highlighting more national level Democrats and
- speak in united manner to articulate a cogent, practical and effective policy framework to address the scrooge of 'inequality' brought on this society.

Meanwhile critics like Rubin would conveniently like to forget that Demographics are still the in the favor of Democrats and will be so for some time to come. Immigration is one issue where Democrats are on the right side of the History and they will forget to wage that political battle at their own peril.

Update - Actually Paul Krugman delivered most devastating Liberal Criticism of President Obama; basically saying that President Obama failed to realize the historical damage of 'half-hearted' policies. Now, that is some scathing criticism, much more naked but truthful criticism of President Obama than Jennifer Rubin. Yeah, this is all tragic. 

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