I’ve said before and I’ll continue to say that Democrats’ biggest mistake from 2008-2010 was governing as if they had a mandate. Much of the legislation pushed through Congress (as much as it was needed) alienated voters in the ideological center. It wasn’t that is was ill-conceived, mostly poorly executed. Voters made them pay in the 2010 midterms.
Tonight Ohio voters confirmed the rights of union workers in their state, rejecting efforts by their Republican Governor to thwart the collective bargaining power of public employees. Kentucky reelected a Democrat as governor. And Mississippi voted against the “personhood” ammendment. Oh by the way, Mississippi elected a Republican governor as well.
Voters kicked Democrats out of Congress for the same reason that they removed Republicans in 2006: for spending too much money and not coming together to find solutions. Liberals and far right conservatives don’t want their parties to give an inch on any issue. But those of us in the middle can stomach a compromise, like the lame duck budget deal, much better than the political theater that defined the debt ceiling “debate.”
Democrats should recognize that in the 2006 and 2010 midterms (and in some ways the 2008 presidential) the electorate voted against incumbents, against business as usual, against uber partisanship. It’s possible that in 2012, voters will cast their ballots in favor of candidates who are willing to bring ideas and solutions to the table.
To date, congressional Republicans haven’t brought any ideas to the table in near year they’ve controlled the House. The only GOP presidential candidate to bring an idea to the front is Hermain Cain (I didn’t say it was a good idea). Democrats should ask themselves a these questions moving into 2012:
How did we win the governorship (via reelection) in Kentucky?
Why did voters in Ohio support collective bargaining. Why did Ohio voters reject their governor’s attempts to overreach.
How did our governor in West Virginia win a special election last month.
How would we defeat Scott Brown if we had it to do over again.
I’m not hopeful that Democrats will actually take an objective look at these fundamental issues that could help them win in 2012. President Obama is the only one who’s been willing to try to compromise, and if you look at the numbers, independents credit him for that. It’s the liberals in his base that punish him for not getting enough, even though any victory he wins is more than they had in the 8 years prior to his arrival.