A Hopeful Prophecy


Animal Nuz #194 (detail)

Round and round in circles; when do we get to breathe clean, fresh air? The carousel is vicious; each pass brings greater distress.

I don’t know, is that too dramatic?

The problem, of course, is simply that life is unpredictable. Heh. Simply. Unpredictable.

Yet, for all the things that are genuinely predictable, something about politics is problematic. Setting aside the cyclical examinations of what went wrong, both in the internal and public polling, the nature of politics seems to openly and proudly defy the punditry.

Animal Nuz #194 (detail)On election night, 2012, Team Romney did not recognize the possibility of losing until they the returns from Florida showed the president as too strong. Indeed, some would suspect, from subsequent reports, that the former Massachusetts governor had no idea he was about to lose until it happened. To the other, Team Obama was rumored to have known what was about to happen down to the ZIP+4.

There are plenty who might think that the minimum wage is a winner for Democrats, but there were also plenty who thought unemployment numbers would sink President Obama. Conventional wisdom is hardly wisdom; it is better thought of according to the adjective conventional—people decide this is right, therefore it is right regardless of the facts.

The 2014 midterm is hard to predict. Many factors seem to favor Republicans, from the structural (who’s up for re-election) to the economy, to the question of a year-six election. Then again, Republicans have blown the last two year-six elections, once as the majority and once as the opposition.

Democrats, meanwhile, are coming off a long, tense fret over Obamacare. While few have managed to run with the PPACA as a plus, and even fewer proclaiming outright triumph, the enrollment success of Obamacare should be a minor issue. To the other, Republicans have invested much in their denunciation of health reform, despite the individual mandate originally being a conservative idea introduced to Congress by the GOP.

Indeed, the minimum wage is a winner, with three quarters of Americans responding affirmatively in polls. But the problem for Democrats is that these numbers do not translate to electoral outcomes. Part of this is simply that the Democrats, on their best days, are both benign and incompetent. But another is that the crossover vote will not be as effective; those who support the minimum wage but also think that abortion is murder will vote for Republicans. So will those who have problems with homosexuals, blacks, Muslims, or other non-white, non-Christian, non-male groups.

And pollsters know this. As much as one might wish to think that the minimum wage issue will carry Democrats to victory in November, this is merely wishful thinking. The nation owes Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election to Mitt Romney’s dishonesty and an inexplicable surge of misogyny among downticket Republican candidates.

Then again … misogyny? Check. Homophobia? Racism? Religious supremacism? Check, check, and check. The GOP has chosen a difficult path, and while one might find romantic merit in standing for a waning voice under siege, the romance evaporates when one comes to terms with the fact of such visceral hatred. Democrats are in better shape than they should be, thanks in no small part to the statistical successes of the PPACA that they hid from. Still, though, nothing can erase from their minds what happened in 2000. Regardless of the conspiracy theories, had Democrats run better races, they wouldn’t have lost. Indeed, had they run a better presidential race, Florida would never have had a chance to so embarrass itself before the nation and world.

You know, just a few things to keep in mind as the election season heats up.

____________________

Lewis, Eric. Animal Nuz #194. Daily Kos. April 5, 2014.

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