Tuesday, November 04, 2014

American Politics - Dems Lost

President Obama got his second shellacking as Senate is lost for Democrats. Democratic ground game did not hold up and late breaking of public vote towards Republicans basically turned into GOP wave almost as good as Tea Party win 2010. When Sen. Mark Warner is in trouble and Colorado flips, we know that President Obama's unpopularity is weighing down heavily.

President Obama has been busy spending his political capital, but he never grasped the importance of carrying political popularity. Without some popular support, it is pretty difficult to enact any consequential changes. President Obama is not the party man. He never endorsed anyone of consequence before entering Oval Office nor he did effective campaigning for other candidates. He wanted to wage the politics of policy as a rebuke to Washington Politicians, but he never did an effective job of keeping a sustained and coherent agenda on national political discourse.

In absence of popularity and sustained coherent policy framework; administrative competence and execution became important in evaluating Obama Presidency in the Second Term. In that regards, there are serious mistakes which are costing Democrats lot. Lukewarm domestic economy still weighs most. Here, part of the problem is with American Public. They seem not to understand what obstructionist role GOP played as well as how wrong GOP prescription of 'austerity and tax cuts for rich' is in this context. Voters seem to have voted anything opposing Obama, regardless whether it is beneficial to them or not. 

But Obama mistakes continued on foreign front. When American forces left Iraq, Obama Administration did not make it loud and clear the dangers of Maliki's practices and dangers of falling Iraq into the current chaos. Agreed that Iraqi's did not want American residual force in Iraq, but warning on possible dangers was required. Americans see their commander-in-chief fulfilling public wish of winding down wars; but they wonder in the process if President Obama is leaving us in more dangerous world. It is a valid suspicion and ground for criticism, from which President Obama has not recovered.

Equally he made a mess of his Syrian response. Turning to Congress did not turn out any smarter and the entire process essentially exposed White House as a non-resolute power. Despite the smart and effective move of cleaning out chemical weapons in Syria; Administration squandered that victory. Same for America's Ukraine policy - it is effective and smart; but Obama Administration does not get any credit for the same.

Some other decisions are inherently more difficult; for example the case of an executive action on immigration. Clearly doing so would have helped in Colorado while dragging candidates in Southern states. In the end however everything is lost with no benefits of waiting for this decision till elections. But one can argue that in the summer of 2014, the decision of holding off executive actions on immigration looked as like a necessary step given the state of affairs at that time. What should have been avoided was building the mountain of expectations pre-maturely. Again, the impression is 'over promising and under delivering' White House. Possibly turning back on immigration execution action will be remembered as the true bad call which broke Democrats in 2014.

President Obama will pay the price of not having Democratic Senate and remaining two years of his presidency will be essentially an exercise in 'selling the liberal policy silver' piece by piece. He may choose to fight considering politics of confronting pro-rich agenda is the minimum service he can do for Democratic Party; the party which believed in him so much.

On Republican side, if a quick contender for 2016 emerges; he (yes, they all are men) should be able to 'build' on the momentum of 2014 election results. But likelihood of that happening is low. Success of 2014 will rather attract large swath of contenders, each out gunning each other. In other words, it is  possible that Republican Party will learn nothing from 2012 nomination charade. Egos and ambitions of messers Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie are large enough. Rand Paul has some policy baggage, but seems to be the smartest mind on GOP side.

For Democrats, the best bet will be Clinton-Warren ticket after Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton declare some kind of a 'policy pact' as their agenda statement considering that Clintons are cozy with Big Corp. Capitalism whereas Warren wants to fight Big Corp. Capitalism. Elizabeth Warren has said no to presidential primary and after having un-experienced politician in White House for last 8 years it is doubtful that Americans will be ready for another green shoot. That is where Clinton is expected to bring the cover. Elizabeth Warren is on the right side of policy path this country needs. She carries younger and liberal voter base and unless and until it is united with an experienced hand like Clinton; Democrats would suddenly experience a harsher electoral environment. Results of 2014 are bound to send shiver down the spine of Democrats, they are on much, much weaker wicket. 

(It will be interesting to see if ObamaCare can be saved. If GOP is smart, it will attempt to undercut the law in a protracted, relentless manner. That will be the test of President Obama in remaining two years.)

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