Why Democrats are down, but most certainly not out. This swing of the political pendulum is most likely temporary
The 2014 Midterm Elections saw several key Republican victories. As many had predicted, the Republican Party has recaptured control of the US Senate. Republicans picked up seven seats in the Senate and at least 10 in the House of Representatives.
It is no secret that whichever party happens to control the presidency tends to be at a detriment when it comes time for midterm elections. This, in combination with myriad other factors, has served the Democrats a metaphorical steaming plate of dung.
First, there are the results. Second, the case will be made against Democratic despair. This swing of the political pendulum is most likely temporary. Progressives as well as Democrats must have their hearts and eyes set on 2016 to take back control of the political order.
I. A Snapshot of the Results
Notable Democratic Victors:
Illinois (Sen): Dick Durbin
Oregon (Sen): Jeff Merkley
New Jersey (Sen): Cory Booker
New Mexico (Sen): Tom Udall
Michigan (Sen): Gary Peters
Minnesota (Sen): Al Franken
California (Gov): Jerry Brown
Oregon (Gov): John Kitzhaber
New York (Gov): Andrew Cuomo
Pennsylvania (Gov): Tom Wolf
Arizona (Rep): Ann Kirkpatrick
Minnesota (Rep): Rick Nolan
Oregon (Rep): Suzanne Bonamici
Notable Republican Victors:
Arkansas (Sen): Tom Cotton
Colorado (Sen): Cory Gardner
Kansas (Sen): Pat Roberts
Kentucky (Sen): Mitch McConnell
North Carolina (Sen): Thom Tillis
West Virginia (Sen): Shelley Moore
Illinois (Gov): Bruce Rauner
Kansas (Gov): Sam Brownback
Maryland (Gov): Larry Hogan
Ohio (Gov): John Kasich
Wisconsin (Gov): Scott Walker
Georgia (Rep): Rick Allen
Virginia (Rep): Dave Brat
West Virginia (Rep): Evan Jenkins
II. Regaining Perspective: Democrats in Power in 2016 and Beyond
It is likely that moving forward there will be heightened efforts by Republicans to slash budgets. This is nothing new, although the Democrats do, at present, find themselves somewhat at a disadvantage. Republicans may now also be able to wreak havoc with any possible judicial appointments made by the Obama Administration.
Speaker of the House John Boehner stated that the next course of action for House Republicans will be to vote immediately on “many common-sense jobs and energy bills that passed the Republican-led House in recent years with bipartisan support but were never even brought to a vote by the outgoing Senate majority.”
The historical cycle moves in nearly measurable patterns. As past election cycles have indicated, there is a subtle game being played in Washington which extends beyond any single “rotation” (for lack of a better term).
Looking ahead to 2016, the Democratic Party could certainly be poised to take control back. This is also not to mention the significance of the upcoming presidential election in which (it seems highly likely) Hillary Clinton will take center stage.
2016 will be a key year. In terms of significance this Republican resurgence scores a fairly benign grade. Certainly there will be changes – on the other hand there may be none – and these depend, in large part, on the decisions of the victors.
It is quite easy to criticize the party in power; this is to be contrasted with the position of the party which does not hold power. One can demonstrate this any number of ways. At present the Democratic Party holds the White House. Any first year student of political science (at least one would like to believe so) can understand this. Criticism can also, however, serve to move things toward a variety of ends.
For years president Obama served as a unifying figure for Democrats. During this particular election process, however, Democrats made great efforts to distance themselves from the president. One can see the reasons for this. The Oval Office is somewhat of a magnet for every bit of negative press possible, especially during an election cycle. This left Democrats without that stabilizing element and it is very likely that this loss contributed significantly to this midterm rout.
There is also quite a bit more good news for those who lean to the political left. Harry Reid has obtained the full support of Democratic Senators Dick Durbin (Ill), Patty Murray (Wash), and Chuck Schumer (NY) to run for the position of Senate Minority Leader, seeing as he has been unseated by Mitch McConnell who has assumed the position of Majority Leader.
Last month Nancy Pelosi even predicted a Democratic sweep of Congress and the White House in 2016. When speaking to reporters she remarked, “Their days are numbered. I know that in two years, I know we’ll have a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president,”
In summary the Democrats have been temporarily broken. The battle goes on, however, at least until the cycle changes or ceases to exist. The progressive focus cannot dwell on what has just transpired at the expense of possible opportunities down the road. Two years, with respect to the geo-political scale, is the equivalent of the blink of an eye. Before voters have forgotten these midterm elections (it takes less time than one would think) the presidential attack ads will be upon them like a plague of day-time television locusts.
The prospects for full Democratic control of the Senate, House, and White House are certainly promising. Necessarily there are still mountains to be climbed and battles to be won (especially where the House is concerned). The progressive mantra is clear: “victory in 2016!”