The forecast is bad for Democrats this November: the Republicans could take back the House and will certainly take some seats in the Senate.
If he loses the House, Obama will find himself in the same frustrating situation President Clinton was in after 1994, when Newt Gingrich’s Republicans captured the House and Senate. Obama won’t be signing any more behemoths like the Health Care bill; he’ll be forced to settle for dull compromises like Clinton’s welfare reform act. In terms of domestic policy, his biggest accomplishments will be behind him. In a few years, he might be saying things like “the era of big government is over.”
If anything, Obama’s strait jacket will be tighter than Clinton’s, considering how much more extreme the parties have become in the past fifteen years. Despite many public efforts, very few compromises has been hatched so far in Obama’s presidency, with no Republican votes for the health care bill and only one for the stimulus. The Republicans seem content to reject Obama’s agenda, even after it’s been decaffeinated.
Instead of getting depressed over their future, the Democrats should work on passing as much as they can before November. They still haven’t attended to some of the boldest bullet points in Obama’s agenda: financial and immigration reform.
I’m especially worried about financial reform. The recent market crash revealed serious problems in the financial industry that threaten our country’s prosperity, and although some Republicans have been working with Democrats on the current bill, I doubt that a House with a Republican majority will pass the changes needed. Indeed, Republican Congressional leaders have been saying that the regulations in the current bill – meant to keep banks from failing and prevent another crash – would stifle the banking industry and need to be toned down or forgotten.
If we don’t make the necessary reforms now, it could be years before another opportunity comes along. By then, the impetus will be gone. American voters have short memories. We would just have to brace ourselves for the next meltdown.
Climate change is another urgent issue, and Democrats should make further reforms in the next few months, considering how watered-down the cap and trade bill they passed last year was.
Taking action on these issues will improve their odds for November anyway. Whether or not a majority of Americans support Obama’s ideas, the Democrats will at least be a party that can get things done – which will contrast with all the stubborn head-shaking Republicans have been doing lately. Financial reform will be especially beneficial because most Americans, like me, don’t think too highly of banks. The Consumer Protection Agency Democrats have been talking about founding would endear voters who’ve been saddled with the outrageous bank fees that are always pissing off me and my friends.
I’m hoping the economy gets back on its feet before this fall – I’ve already heard economists say that the recession is over. That would soften the blow for the Democrats more than anything else. Either way, it wouldn’t hurt for them to go over Obama’s campaign speeches from 2008 and see what they missed.