Op-Ed: Have Liberal Democrats Reached the Tipping Point?

Posted Jan 14, 2010 by Johnny Simpson
Just over one year ago, liberal Democrats swept the White House and Congress. Today, liberal Democrat Martha Coakley is fighting for her political life in the bluest of states. Has the political worm turned completely for liberal Democrats in America?
mr. wright / flickr
What a difference a year can make in American politics. In November 2008, a mere fourteen months ago, liberal Democrats captured the White House and Congress in convincing fashion, securing solid majorities in both Houses. Yet despite an impressive electoral victory margin of 365-173 by Barack Obama over Republican candidate John McCain, a recent poll indicates that a majority of Americans would vote against President Obama were the 2012 presidential election to be held today.
Aside from the stunning Republican victories in NJ and VA, and the win salvaged in NY-23 as a result of Republican infighting, even more foreboding news looms for liberal Democrats. In Massachusetts, the bluest of blue states, relatively unknown Republican state senator Scott Brown is giving current state AG Martha Coakley, a liberal Democrat fixture with statewide name recognition, the fight of her political life over the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's seat. Even two weeks ago, no one would have believed that possible. Not in Massachusetts. Yet that is exactly what's happening today. It is nothing short of revolutionary.
For the answers to these intriguing and astounding political turnarounds, you really need only heed Bill Clinton's famous axiom from the 1992 elections: "It's the economy, stupid!" Yet the roots of the problems today for President Obama and liberal Democrats in Congress go far deeper. It is also national security, higher taxes, increasing government expansion and intrusion, reckless spending, shady backroom deals and an appalling lack of promised transparency that is souring the American electorate on the politicians they swept into office in 2008, and may sweep out just as convincingly this November. Perhaps the greatest factor to sour the American people on liberal Democrats is the sweeping progressive agenda President Obama and Congress are trying to stuff down the American people's throats, despite vehement popular opposition to the current GovCare and Cap-and-Trade bills currently before Congress. A number of other factors outside the D.C political arena are also contributing greatly to President Obama's and Congress' punishing demise in the polls. The laundry list is a long one.
First and foremost, the American people vote with their pocketbooks and wallets. If those are now much lighter for millions of Americans because they have been laid off from their jobs, the economy and unemployment traditionally become Job #1 for the President and Congress. To date, Congress and the White House have bungled that job in most every possible way. The $787B stimulus bill has gone primarily to propping up state budgets, preserving government jobs and sinecures and funding pet pork projects. It has done very little, if anything, in the way of stimulating the private sector and encouraging real job growth that generates tax revenues instead of consuming them. A $787B tax cut most likely would have gone much farther in stimulating the economic environment for small businesses and increasing tax revenues.
Instead, many small and medium-size businesses are holding off on hiring or expanding as they await the potentially devastating impacts of stifling regulations and profit-devouring taxes should the GovCare or Cap-and-Trade bills be passed and signed off by the White House. Example. Zoll Medical Systems in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, a leading manufacturer of portable heart defibrillators, stands to owe up to $10M in new taxes under the medical device tax in the current GovCare bill. Zoll's overall profits last year were under $10M. Not only is that tax not sustainable, it could very well put Zoll Medical out of business. And that's just one company. Is it any wonder most businesses are holding off on expansion and hiring?
To top it all off, Congress and the White House are now considering a second massive stimulus bill to stimulate job growth, despite the abject failures of the first to do so. The American people were promised that the unemployment rate would not exceed 7.5% if the first bill passed, and we were warned that rate could possibly increase to as high as 8.9% should the bill fail to pass. Well, the bill was passed, and unemployment is now at 10% or higher. Claims of jobs "created or saved," or that the Bush Administration is solely responsible for the current economic train wreck, are being met with increasing skepticism by the American public. Liberal Democrats own this economy now. They should be manning up, taking personal responsibility and tackling the problem, and they aren't. In fact, their policies are making things worse.
As to broken promises vis-a-vis Obama's Hope and Change campaign, there are almost too many to count. The promise of greater government transparency has been perhaps the greatest broken promise of all. Despite President Obama's multiple campaign pledges to broadcast the Congressional legislative process regarding health care on CSPAN, the process could not have been more camera-free or secretive, filled with shady tit-for-tat Tammany Hall-like backroom deals (ref Sens. Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu), or more beholden to D.C. lobbyists. They have even broken their promises to post major legislation online 72 hours before a vote. As a result, there is now a recall petition for Sen. Landrieu circulating in Louisiana. Even though there are no provisions under US law for such a recall, that can't be encouraging news in D.C.
There is also the recent resurfacing of the New Black Panther Party civil rights case resulting from the egregious baton-swinging "You will soon be ruled by the black man, cracker" voter intimidation at the polls in Philadelphia in 2008. Transparency could not be more lacking. In fact, Attorney General Eric Holder, who not so long ago called Americans "cowards on race," has refused to respond to multiple inquiries by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) into DOJ's secretive dismissal of the NBPP case. AG Holder has even gone so far as to tell career Justice lawyers involved in the NBPP decision to refuse to respond to subpoenas issued by the US Civil Rights Commission, which is now investigating the case. Some DOJ lawyers are now seeking legal counsel of their own as a result. In the meantime, the once convicted-by-default and now Holder-exonerated NBPP intimidators have already been cleared to work the polls in Philly again this year. Who hasn't seen the video? Has any such case before any federal law enforcement agency ever been more cut-and-dried?
On national security and the War on Terror, more and more the American people are losing confidence in the Obama administration's and the liberal Democrat Congress' ability to protect the nation. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, who was curiously shocked by Al Qaeda's avid determination to attack us in the wake of the UndyBomber's attempt to blow up Flight 235 over Detroit, even refuses to call Islamist terrorist attacks what they are, instead calling them "man-caused disasters." Note to SecDHS: the Interstate 35 bridge collapsing in Minneapolis under heavy traffic was a man-caused disaster. What happened in Mumbai was a terrorist attack. So was the recent suicide-bombing of seven CIA agents in Afghanistan. The moving of 9/11 mastermind KSM's trial to civilian court in New York City has also proved highly unpopular with the public.
Even worse, the government is going out of its way to keep the second-worst Islamist terror attack in American history, the Major Nidal Hasan massacre at Fort Hood, from even being called such, despite more highly public Islamist extremist red flags being raised in Dr. Hasan's case than for all of the 9/11 terrorists combined, and this is post-9/11! How are the American people supposed to have any real confidence in a government that not only will not call Islamist terrorism what it is, but goes out of its way to avoid doing so, even denying it took place when the evidence is glaringly clear that it did? Who are we fighting then, exactly? Disaster-causing men? The great irony here is, though liberal Democrats avoid calling radical Islamist extremists terrorists by name, they show no compunction whatsoever in branding their political opponents with that same terrorist moniker, or codifying that political slander into DHS regulations. It would seem somebody's national security priorities are severely misplaced, and the American public knows it.
The liberal Democrat mantra of "it's all Bush's fault," which helped propel liberal Democrats into superpower status last November, no longer resonates with the American people. The tired predictable liberal Democrat name-calling, such as Sen. Charles Schumer calling Coakley opponent Scott Brown a "far right tea-bagger" is not only off-putting, it is becoming highly offensive to Independents and even many moderate Democrats now, as is the continued slandering of Sarah Palin, who enjoys public support near equal to President Obama today. And though the mainstream media has done much these past two years to cover up President Obama's and liberal Democrats' many shortcomings, they no longer have the monopoly on information they once had. Many longtime established MSM/Democrat mouthpiece outlets are in fact in their death throes, while alternative media outlets and FOX News are thriving. The American electorate is much older and wiser since 2008. This has all put liberal Democrats on a very shaky political precipice.
Unlike the 2008 elections, President Obama and liberal Democrats can no longer hide behind Bush's skirt, or depend on the media to cover up their many flaws and reckless decisions and actions while in power. In this light speed world of information flow, The Truth Is Out There. No putting that genie back in the bottle. Liberal Democrats promised Americans the most transparent and ethical government ever, and instead we have gotten one of the most corrupt and opaque. It is an amazing political transformation, if you think about it. In just one year of holding the ultimate reins of power in America, liberal Democrats have gone from Kings of the World to facing mass political execution on Election Row this November. Let's face it. When liberal Democrats have to fight tooth and nail and spend millions of dollars in deep blue Massachusetts to hang onto former liberal lion Ted Kennedy's seat (not to mention losing Virginia and New Jersey, the latter nearly as deep blue a stronghold as Massachusetts), you are in serious deep political manure nationally.
A loss in Massachusetts would not just be the political canary in the coal mine for liberal Democrats. It would be a leaden albatross around their collective necks. It's already a severe cautionary tale. As a former Republican and now Libertarian-leaning Reagan conservative Independent, if I were feeling generous I might tell liberal Democrats in Congress and the White House to heed the key tenet of the Hippocratic Oath: "First, do no harm." Liberal Democrats have to get past being politicians, where their progressive priorities and expediencies take precedence over the real needs of the American people, stop rankly insulting those Americans who oppose their policies on legitimate grounds, and start becoming pragmatic and sane about addressing the serious problems we face both domestically and overseas. If not, the Senate Dogfight That Should Not Be in Massachusetts will merely be the Paul Revere's Ride of the political revolution now brewing in this country. The American electorate is as restless and angry as I've seen it since Ronald Reagan's massive drubbing of Jimmy Carter in 1980. Something's Gotta Give.