What the 2010 Midterm Actually Said
Previously published on Nov 12, 2010
Although the Democrats certainly took a major thumping in the 2010 Midterm Election, it may well help them in 2012. Clearly, frustration and anger have been building throughout the Country as the Great Recession continues to hit Main Street hard. In such an environment, the ruling Party would have had to do something extraordinary and unexpected to maintain full control of government. Given the Democrat's effort to tackle Healthcare Reform and other controversial, yet significant, policy necessities, which can only loosely be connected to our current economic woes, Republicans had a sure thing. On the other hand, polls oddly suggest Americans continue to distrust and disapprove of the GOP. As such, voters are saying far more than their choices suggest to partisan commentators.
Quit clearly, no one can doubt the number one political issue in the United States of America is jobs. What Americans want is the economy fixed. Republicans and Democrats can spar over their "principles" and the specifics of policies, but most Americans plainly do not care. Although there are divisions within our democratic republic that hold firm to Republican and Democratic principles on economic policy, Americans as a whole just want the economy fixed. Frankly, we do not care how it gets done, so long as enough well paying jobs to satiate our frustration are created. In voting against Democrats, voters were saying they needed to see once again if Republican ideas could work; however, that does not mean they are fully rejecting Democratic ideas. The message is just fix the economy.
In regards to voter sentiment over ending the "liberal agenda," voters clearly were saying something to the Democratic leadership. For a Midterm, 2010 saw a surprising turnout by conservative voters who were fairly lethargic in 2008. From a stimulus package painted as nothing but wasteful spending to a massive healthcare overall costing somewhere in the tune of one trillion dollars, spending seemed to be all the Democrats wanted to do. Coupled with government takeovers and renewed regulatory oversight, plus Obama's efforts to be transparent by reconciling the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with the National Deficit as well as promises to spend more on more simulative efforts, a tax and spend liberal agenda was all voters could see for the rest of the Obama Administration.
On the flip side, voters were not necessary saying we want to embrace the right-wing Republican agenda. Certainly, there was a large block of voters saying just that. The Tea Party is a bold example, yet it is important to remember just two years ago and four years ago, most voters were rejecting such policies. At the time, it was the belief of many Republican leaders that voters were simply angry at Republicans for temporary setbacks. In fact, this is likely the reason why before day one of the Obama Administration they blamed his policies for the Great Recession and used the extended fallout, which should have already been expected, as proof positive. Consequently, Republicans solely saw themselves as victims of circumstances; a view many Democrats now appear to be embracing.
Furthermore, there is also something to be said about the number of voters who did not show up to the polls. For Democrats, the 2010 Midterm Election turnout was that of a normal midterm with somewhere around 29 million 2008 Obama voters failing to show up at the polls. Unfortunately for Democrats, many of these voters may not show up in the 2012 Presidential Election, if Democrats cannot rally all supporters. The energy lost from 2008 was not just a result of it being a midterm year, but rather, these voters were sending Obama and Congressional Democrats a clear message. That is, we do not feel you are worthy of an effort to vote nor do we find a compelling reason to have faith in the process. Consequently, Democrats need to step up their game in order to rekindle the passion in these key voters who cannot be counted on.
Meanwhile, it is also important to address the question of repealing the Healthcare Reform Law. There are conservative voters who want to see all the significant legislative efforts of the Democrats defanged and dismantled; however, there are also plenty of moderates and liberals who want to see these policies improved upon and implemented effectively. The truth is that the majority of people did not outright oppose initiatives like Healthcare Reform. Most Americans started to oppose Healthcare Reform efforts once opponents tried to vilify proto-legislation with dirty politics and fear mongering. The Democratic leadership then decided they could let politics kill the bill or use it to force something through, thus poisoning the legislation and the process. It would probably be more correct to say Americans felt the Democrat's big reform efforts both undermined the legislature and distracted legislators from fixing the economy.
Fixing the economy is the primary policy objective of the American people for the next few election cycles, but there is also an undertone that must not be ignored. Americans are tired of the underhanded political theater and backstabbing that goes on in Washington when we need our leaders to do their jobs and run our Country effectively, especially when it comes to looming issues like the National Debt and proper regulatory oversight. Certainly, the energy came from the right wing in the 2010 Midterm election, but the anger is real on both sides. Quite frankly, the current political dynamic is still in play and another washout may well be in the cards. On the other hand, 2010 can either be a precursor to a Republican 2012 as the Democratic 2006 was for 2008 or it can be a wave of referendum on the GOP. What happens in 2012 will depend upon whether or not the Democratic Party, and the GOP, gets the message.