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Sunday, December 11, 2011

2010 - Why the Democrats lost the House


The Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 election for a number of reasons. The most obvious reason, and the essential reason why either party loses a congressional election, is related to the state of the economy. The Democrats had controlled the House since 2006 and the Democratic nominee for President, Barack Obama, had been elected in 2008 which meant that the Democrats were viewed as responsible for the economic stagnation in 2010. This impression was exacerbated by the fact that the Democratic controlled White House and Congress had expanded spending and had increased the deficit. It was assumed that the agenda of the Obama Administration and Democratic Congress was to continue to expand spending further into the future.

Obama’s first major initiative as president was to submit to Congress an enormous spending bill, one that he called the “stimulus” package which he sold to the American people as spending that would stimulate the economy and create jobs. By 2010, the economy had not noticeably improved and unemployment had entered into the double digits. To add insult to injury, Obama and the Democrats called for rescinding the “Bush” tax cuts. The electorate, outside of the shrinking numbers of ultra-liberals, understood that this meant a tax increase. The American people were in no mood for more taxes at a time of economic contraction and expanding deficits. By giving the de-facto tax increase the name “Bush”, Obama and the Democrats were betting that most Americans shared their anti-Bush derangement but most Americans saw through the ploy. It didn’t help matters that George Bush himself briefly came out of retirement with a best selling book and high polling numbers.

Obama, and tangentially the Democratic Congress, were responsible for ramming through the unpopular health care bill that has become known as ObamaCare. Obama and the congressional democrats accomplished this through a series of unsavory maneuvers. This gave the endeavor an unethical patina at a time when trust in government was at an all time low. It had become obvious that ObamaCare would not reduce the cost of healthcare and stories such as Medicare restricting certain coverage and the US Preventative Service Task Force recommending that women under 50 not be covered for mammograms and pap smears. These stories and others enforced the suspicion, not entirely groundless, that ObamaCare would lead to rationing as similar national plans have done elsewhere. These stories also re-enforced Sarah Palin’s contention that ObamaCare would lead to “death councils.”

Finally there was the issue of national security and the war against terrorism, an issue that had been effectively used by Scott Brown in Massachusetts against his liberal Democratic opponent Martha Coakley in the special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by the death of liberal lion Senator Ted Kennedy. The Democrats were perceived to be soft on the war on terrorism particularly after President Obama had come out against the enhanced interrogation tactics that had saved countless lives, had pushed moving the Guantanamo prison camp to suburban Chicago and to try the detainees in lower Manhattan. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolatano didn’t help the image of weakness when she insisted that the “system worked like clockwork” when a terrorist with a bomb in his underwear almost blew up a passenger plane on Christmas, 2009.

As the election of 2010 approached, there was an enormous desire on the part of the electorate for hope and change.

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