On November 4th, the night of the 2014 Mid-Term Elections, the Democratic Party took a really tough loss. And as much as the Democrats took it on the chin last night, the President took it on the chin even worse. Key allies like Mark Pryor and Kay Hagen lost re-election and potential newcomers Allison Lundergan Grimes and Michelle Nunn lost as well. On the Congressional level, overly experienced candidates like Suzanne Patrick in Virginia’s 2nd lost just as bad as novice popular celebrity candidates like Clay Aiken. Even the Democrats who survived, no matter how powerful, skirted by the barest of margins. Dan Malloy, the Governor of the extremely liberal Connecticut barely escaped an embarrassing defeat. Virginia’s Mark Warner, who is so popular he probably could walk across the Chesapeake Bay, has not won his re-election yet. So yeah, all across the country if you had a “D” next to your name you were in for a VERY long night and equally painful Wednesday-Morning Quarterbacking. The inevitable finger-pointing, second-guessing and questioning of campaigns, “What went wrong.” “What you should have done.” “What you did not do.” “Who’s to blame.” And through the night and into the next, the one person the Democrats sought to blame is the one person Republicans blamed for the entire election: President Barack Obama.
And now, with the elections over and the Republicans in control of the House as well as the Senate, the one person left behind to deal with it all is none other than Barack Obama. Not only does Barack Obama have to deal with a bunch that were never interested in helping him govern from the start(and now are interested in governing all of sudden) but he also has to deal with a Party that did everything they could to turn away from him and in doing so, turn away from every bit of success this nation has enjoyed for the last six years. NEWSFLASH: Barack Obama was never the problem. He won BOTH of his elections in a COMPLETELY toxic environment. How soon we forget who we elected in the first place. Let’s examine what else we’ve forgotten:
55 Consecutive Months of Private Sector Job Growth – Over 10 million jobs have been created during this period. When President Obama came into office we had just lost nearly 800,000 jobs in one month. By the end of his first year in office, we stopped losing jobs.
Ended the Great Recession – Not to harp on a dead horse, but when President Bush left office, we weren’t doing too well as a nation. We were looking about as good as the Democrats looked yesterday. A Housing Market in crisis coupled with failing American institutions in the auto and banking industries hit us really hard. Not to mention two wars that weren’t properly funded. It crippled us. But you know what? We recovered.
The Affordable Care Act – As much as the nation divided itself over it’s passage and implementation, the Affordable Care Act has done wonders to do exactly what it was designed to do: reduce the number of uninsured and slowed the growth of healthcare cost overall. For over a year now, millions across the nation have been receiving monthly discounts on health insurance ranging from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars. There isn’t a single Republican in their right mind that will tell those millions of people, “I’m sorry, but now I’m going to increase your health insurance cost now” and then hope to ever win another election.
Deficit Reduction – Under President Barack Obama, the deficit that was responsible for nearly 10% of the overall GDP has been cut in half. In 2009, Obama’s first year in office, the deficit topped $1.4 trillion. By the end of this year, the deficit will have been cut by one trillion dollars. You don’t have to be a deficit hawk to do math.
Unemployment Rate – At it’s highest during the Recession, the Unemployment rate hit 10%. Now, it’s 5.9% and will likely go lower by the end of the week. In comparison, it was at 5.7% at the start of President Bush’s second term. We definitely were not in a recession then.
Osama Bin Laden – DEAD! The most wanted man in the history of the world is now a memory. Probably one of our greatest military achievements in 70 years. In the eyes of many, that alone should canonize the man.
All of that is barely scratching the surface. The housing market is saved. The financial industry is saved. The auto industry is saved. The Stock Market is raised. Minimum Wage was raised, which is exactly what you can’t say about gas prices. Oh by the way, this was all done with a Congress that committed themselves to making him a one-term president as their number one goal. Speaking of that Congress, the Republicans took control of the House in 2010 with as much gusto, gumption and guile as they did with the Senate this year. And in the four years since what have they accomplished? The two most unproductive Congresses in the history of the United States. The 112th Congress(2010-2012) passed 283 laws, while the 113th Congress has managed to only pass about 100 less laws than that so far. And these are the guys we expect to be able to govern now? Yes, his job approval ratings are in the 40s, but it’s consistently three times higher than Congress’s approval rating, which is about as high as Ebola’s approval rating. You know what else has approval three times that of congress? Obamacare. Yeah. The one thing they all campaigned against and assured us they don’t want. My opinion? It isn’t the discounted and accessible healthcare that people don’t want…
Now, am I saying that if Democrats ran in stride with President Obama that we’d be running a victory lap right now? Probably not. But at the same time, what I am saying is that of everything that went wrong on Election Day, Barack Obama was not one of them. Democratic candidates did not have to run with him, but they certainly did not have to run away from him. Which they did. If that’s how you want to win elections, then perhaps this was exactly what we needed. Just to see how bad of an idea it was. As if we didn’t know. We saw what happened in 2010. In the wake of a vastly unpopular passage of the Affordable Care Act, Republican dog-catchers everywhere were just lining up to get in Congress and they did. With such a wave of success and a President had not a friend in the world, Barack Obama was definitely a dead man walking in 2012, right? Wrong. He kicked ass. Not only did he kick ass, but he arguably did better than he did with his historic first victory. But that wasn’t good enough. Despite healthcare reform being a success, the recession ended and economy sailing, Barack Obama was again targeted as the problem. As if we actually think Democrats win with swing voters in Mid-Term elections. Without base voters, Democrats had no chance of winning. As is such, you know if Barack Obama said he was coming to your neighborhood tomorrow, you know good and well that everyone and their mother would break their necks to get there. That’s how it’s been for the last seven years and it has showed no signs of stopping. He is the energy that the Democratic base thrives on.
So my question is, with a platform that ANYONE would kill to run on and a President that is STILL ridiculously popular, what’s with the conventional wisdom that he is to blame?
I’ll end by sharing a memory of what was going down this time four years ago. Journalist Glenn Greenwald and television host Lawrence O’Donnell got into a argument about the results of the 2010 General Election where similarly the Democrats were obliterated. Greenwald suggested that if Democrats ran further to the left they would have had better results than the ones they got. This sent O’Donnell(and myself) in an uproar because we knew that despite what we want, the only path to getting elected and getting things done is compromise. That was then. That was during a recession. That was when health insurance was costing thousands. That was when Ben Laden was alive and the unemployment rate was near 10%. Now, if you are going to deny what President Obama has accomplish then you deserve to lose. When I see candidates like Allison Lundergan Grimes not even admit to voting for the President she served as a convention delegate for, I can’t help but to be disappointed. Especially when she knows full well his presence would have energized her voters way more than she could have ever hoped to do alone. And could have done the same for many more, but instead they ran away from all of it. In a vain effort to escape the bad, you sacrificed the good. In the end, if I may borrow from the popular film the year of his election; Barack Obama is not the President that we deserve, but maybe, just maybe he was the President that we needed.
So what now? Now that the Republicans have control of the House and the Senate, what do they do now? Does Mitch McConnell, as Senate Majority Leader, control his caucus any better than John Boehner controlled his? Will Senator McConnell even become Senate Majority Leader? Do they repeal the Affordable Care Act and force millions to pay hundreds and thousands more and possibly lose it? Do they dare attempt impeachment of a President with two years left in office when their feckless lawsuit couldn’t gain any traction at all? Will they be any better at getting out of their own way, which between the Tea Party, the Libertarian Party and the establishment crowd, they have hardly been able to do for the last four years? Or for the next two years, they show the country just how ineffective they can be as they did during President Bush’s last term that set the stage for complete Democratic takeover of the House, Senate and Presidency all in the span of two years. Well, they have exactly that much time to show us what they can do. Because if they are as effective as they were during President Bush’s last term as they were over the last four years, then they’ll definitely be looking at their worst nightmare: PRESIDENT HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON