The Great Debate
President Barack Obama is laying down his marker Tuesday with his State of the Union Address. He told a closed-door meeting of Senate Democrats last week, “I’m not going to spend the next two years on defense. I’m going to play offense.”
from Anatole Kaletsky:
Is gridlocked government a betrayal of democracy? Or does it allow citizens to get on with their lives and businesses, unencumbered by meddlesome politicians?
You can’t govern the United States from Capitol Hill. Republicans learned that after they took over Congress in 1994. House Speaker Newt Gingrich claimed a mandate to enforce his “Contract with America.” What he had was a mandate to make deals with President Bill Clinton.
Early Election Night, there was a lot of parsing of the term “wave election.” It sure quacks like one. The Washington Post had no trouble declaring a GOP wave well before midnight Tuesday. (The piece posted at 11:33 p.m., but pulls together too many stats to have been written on the spot.)
The 2014 campaign marks a departure: It is the first campaign in 50 years in which Democrats are relying on social issues, while economic issues seem to be helping Republicans.
I may be the one person who listens to the election news and thinks about Benjamin Harrison. You don’t remember him? President of the United States from 1888-1892? The scion of a political dynasty that yielded enough failed presidencies to make the Harrisons the Bushes of the 19th century? So why do I think of Harrison? Because this is an election year that centers on money.
Once upon a time, a candidate ran for president on the issue of competence. “This election isn’t about ideology,” he told the 1988 Democratic National Convention. “It’s about competence.”
The United States has a low voter turnout by comparison to other Western democracies, and our turnout in midterm elections is especially abysmal, attracting roughly 40 percent of eligible voters to the polls.