Okay. Enough whining and rationalization.
Republicans, both nationally and locally, began their march toward the 2014 “wave” 6 years ago when U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said their number one goal was making “Obama a one term president.”
Everything else they’ve done flowed from that pronouncement and was designed to make President Obama and Democrats look bad, no matter their successes.
And it worked.
Fixing the “Republican Recession” courtesy of George Bush the Second? It wasn’t good enough or fast enough.
Saving America’s auto industry and thousands of jobs? A government “bail-out.”
Doing for the health care of Americans what every president since Harry Truman, including Nixon, Reagan and Bush the First, had been trying to get accomplished: Universal access to health care and the elimination of some of the insurance industries more distasteful practices: “Obamacare,” “death panels,’ loss of one’s physician, you name it.
The government shutdown? It was Obama’s fault.
All of that and more: Obama isn’t a citizen, a Christian or, God save America, he’s a Black man.
The list is nearly endless, but the direction was always the same: Using an arsenal of tactics to support the, “one term president” strategy.
In sum, they couldn’t spew out distortions and outright lies fast enough in order to feed Fox news which, in turn, wove the day’s Republican talking points into “news,” for the consumption of Republicans whether calling themselves Conservatives or Tea Partiers.
In Arizona, filled with Republicans ready to accept such nonsense, the “wave” created by McConnell and crew, wiped out nearly every candidate save a few of our targeted members of Congress who had the resources and savvy to fight back.
The Arizona result: a newly minted Republican governor who made it through two elections as an “empty suit,” state school superintendent who dislikes education, secretary of state — the top election official, who led legislative efforts to suppress minority voting and a legislative majority prepared to continue regular appearances on “The Daily Show” for the next two to four years.
Democrats, both elected and those individuals and groups within the Party apparatus have played defense. And not very well.
At virtually every turn Democrats were caught up in the Republican political traps struggling to find a way out, only to become more entangled with hooks in their mouths.
We railed against the Koke brothers. We outed Tea Party Republicans and their new leader, Senator Ted Cruz. Day after day, Democrats swung back like tennis players trying to win against a practice machine that kept firing balls across the net while we stumbled running back and forth trying to hit one back.
McConnell’s grand strategy was a huge success except for one tiny little problem: It failed to make the President a one-termer. But there was enormous collateral damage as millions of American’s, caught up in the GOP frenzy, had bought the anti-Obama, anti-Democrat, anti-government narrative.
All of this was not strong enough to offset the Democrat’s voter turnout and subsequent election of Barack Obama to a second term, while maintaining control of the U.S. Senate and watching the U.S. House turn into home base for Republicans who seemed to have been awakened from a frozen sleep induced sometime during the 19th century.
None of that derailed the McConnell plan. It was just fine-tuned and funded for 2014.
Republicans spent about a day licking their wounds after losing ground during the presidential election year. Then they got back to work, setting aside the “one term” president target in favor of just taking control of virtually the entire country.
Which they have.
Meanwhile, Democrats continued living in a dream world that, supported by the political infrastructure of pollsters, media consultants, strategists and party operatives, promised a return to power that was doomed to fail as their offensive squad only rarely made it on to the field.
The exceptions, foremost among them U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, detailed a strategy that, party labels aside, was exactly what Americans were looking for: Progressive Populism with a concrete plan to fix the economic imbalance between the rich and the rest of us.
Unions would get a fair set of rules to govern how they and corporations would coexist and the FCC would revisit the need for a return to the Fairness Doctrine so that radio, TV and Cable channels were required to present competing sides of issues.
Net neutrality would become the law of the land.
They talked about reining in Wall Street and prosecuting corporate leaders for devastating the country’s economy, stepping in to save a generation of young people from student loans that totaled in the trillions of dollars making credit card debt look minor.
They supported health care reform that eliminated insurance companies from the equation thereby freeing up billions of dollars in profits that would be used to make health care truly universal.
They exposed the American war machine that worked against peace to keep their profits flowing. And they called for campaign finance reform with teeth to stop the billionaires from purchasing the United States at bargain-basement prices.
So when it came to gearing up for the 2014 mid term elections, Democratic candidates embraced Progressive Populism as the best way forward and won back everything they had lost over the past several years.
It didn’t happen, of course. Democratic candidates ran away from the President and his record and offered up little more than what has been called “Republican Lite” as their solution to the country’s problems.
At least one Democrat running for the U.S. Senate even refused to say publicly whether she had voted for the President, while others didn’t want him to visit their states, even those that helped carry him into a second term.
In Arizona, Democrats were hindered by a number of factors that deserve attention. In years past they might have tried to recover from the “wave”by making repairs to the roof. But this year’s results call for tearing down the house and starting over again.
This does not mean much effort needs to be put into deciding who is to “blame.” That’s pretty much a waste of time. What should be done, must be done, is review what happened and hold people and groups accountable for what they did or did not do.
And that process should be started now before memories start to fade, documents are lost and people disappear.
Think of this as an audit to determine what worked and what did not work — “work” being defined as getting candidates elected.
To be sure, no process is perfect, but after years of licking wounds and going on vacation, any serious decision to make critical decisions designed to win elected offices should not be delayed.
Without jumping the gun, one decision that ought to be at the top of the list is, to borrow a phrase, “Make Doug Ducey a one-term governor.”
More to come…