Sep 10, 2010

The Enthusiasm Gap

One reason that the Democratic Party is going to be taken behind the woodshed in November is the lack of enthusiasm of Democratic voters.

It is difficult to get fired up when your party controls the White House and both chambers of Congress. It is even more difficult to get fired up when your party has not offered many concrete plans for what it would do with another two years of power. Traditionally the party that hold the presidency experiences losses of seats in congressional election. This year should be no different.

Political gridlock has also created some malaise among Democratic voters. The base was disappointed with the compromises made in passing health care reform. Liberals wanted a public option and more strong progressive legislation. Many moderate and conservative Democrats, on the other hand, would have preferred that reform not pass at all.

Democrats don't even agree on the New York City mosque issue.

The media allows the GOP to dominate the rhetoric describing Democrats. Upon close examination most congressional Dems don't appear liberal at all. They destroy the stereotype of big government, big spending, tax-raising atheists that the Republicans perpetuate.

There is no easy way to define what a Democrat looks like or what he or she believes in.

That, indeed, is the difficulty of motivating the diversity of groups and interests withing the Democratic big tent. Candidates will always make someone unhappy with their statements and decisions. The only way to truly unite Democrats is against a common enemy, whether it be Bush-era policies or the specter of the Christian Right.

At this point Obama and congress have wasted too much time doing damage control and not spent enough time formulating policy and uniting the party against Republican opposition. November will be painful indeed.

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