Last night was a mixed bag for me. I’m happy that I won’t have to say Carly Fiorina is my state senator and Meg Whitman is our state’s Governor. Both are ex-CEOs of silicon Valley success. Fiorina’s legacy is laying of 30,000 employees from HP and shipping those jobs overseas, taking hundred million in golden parachute deals. Meg Whitman was the CEO of E-bay, made insider deals and was so desperate for the job that spent 140 million of her own “kitty” pocket money in media campaign. She spent these money in a state where unemployment is 15% and the state has a debt of 17 billion dollars. But I’m sad to see the rise of the Republican propaganda machine triumph elsewhere. With highest number of House of Representative seats turn over since 1948 Democrats are now settling with 186 (projected around 193, still counting going on in some districts) and Republicans with 239 (projected 242). In senate Democrats lost the momentum but still has around 52 seats with two independents voting with the caucus and Republicans are now roaring with 46 (two seats still undecided). Overall a comprehensive victory for Republicans. But only on paper. According to a New York Times survey done before the election Republicans are still least favored party between the two. But still this monumental victory was a message to the Obama Administration that people expected more action then legislation from them. I think people expected way too much from him.
Today President Obama gave a speech in a press conference and admitted that the results were a reflection of voters frustration and as the executive head he takes responsibility for that. This is something new. In 2006 when exactly the opposite happened and the bandwagon of people’s mandate swung to the Democrats, Bush called the result a “misunderstood triumph” (whatever that meant!) and bashed people. I looked at Obama today and thought, there’s no place for a philosopher in politics. When he came to power he had all sorts of momentum behind him. Even centrist Republicans voted for him. But everyone probably thought he’s the Santa, who’ll bring Christmas all year round and people can go back to the same ignorant behavior that took the economy down. Also I think candidate Obama had no idea how complex the President Obama’s role will be. He had “tree hugging” liberals on the left, who started complaining from Day One, that he’s not liberal enough. And he had “tree cutting” conservatives who called him the closest America ever got to Stalin or Hitler (seriously, there was a billboard showing these three together). No matter what he did, was not good enough for either sides.
It took one president to double the deficit that all his predecessor presidents left behind, that genius was Bush. Obama inherited it, and now it’s his fault that the deficit is still not under control. The voters agreed. It took a deregulated investment market to create one financial bubble after the other and take the stock market to 14000 points and bring a catastrophic collapse, Obama inherited that and Republicans complained we don’t have those golden days. Voters agreed. Students are drowned in debt before going to the job market and found most manufacturing jobs are outsourced and corporations are near to bankruptcy. Obama inherited that, Republicans said unemployment rate is at 9.5%!!! Voters agreed. A vice president said he’s not liable to answer to the President nor to Congress because the office of VP is not clearly an executive or legislative branch, Republicans Called Joe Biden as a partisan loose cannon (Tea Party Candidate Sarah O’Donald). Voters almost agreed (she lost!). A country with the lowest acceptance rating among international community was Obama’s inheritance. He declared Guantanamo Bay will be closed by 2011, stopped active combat missions in Iraq, the first time in a long long time forced Israel to the negotiation table, instead of just bombing allowed even Iran to help in development of Afghanistan, changed the foreign policies upside down and Republicans called him a Muslim President who’s taking the country to Socialist-Sharia-Terrorist triumph country. Believe me, a lot of voters agreed!!
What voters didn’t agree was with a legislation that covered 30 million average Americans who didn’t have health insurance. A legislation that stated credit card companies can’t just drown you to debt by rising your interest rates when ever they want. Brought the first education bill in thirty years, took over the ailing motor industry of Detroit and saved millions of jobs. Among them GM (which Republicans called Government Motors in election ads) are hiring for the first time in decades. Stock market went up to 11000 points, gave tax breaks to small businesses for hiring employees, and providing health care, new machineries can be written off right away. All together 18 legislations were passed. All these were too little done for Americans.
They just looked at their pocket and said well I used to have 100 dollars (which they didn’t earn, probably was a credit card!) and I don’t have it. Jobs are not there and I don’t care that my debt will not go up, I want to blame this government. 62% of all voters, according to the exit polls of CNN, economy was the main issue. People wanted quick fix. Provide jobs, was the call but forgot private sector is not hiring and Government can’t force to do in a free economy. Frank Roosevelt spent millions of dollars by hiring people to built damns, highways, national parks. That kept the money market flow. Well now it’s kinda complex. “Shovel-ready projects” were what Obama thought will mobiles these huge unemployed workforce. But when he got into office there weren’t any projects that government can mobilize. Problem is the administration didn’t play the most important game in politics, because they thought they are in Washington to “Change” things. They didn’t play the blame game.
Candidate Obama and Democrats did amazing PR campaign. They pointed out the mistakes and he told them he had ideas to fix it. People listened. When they went to Washington instead of being a fixer, he became a philosopher. I remember in a town hall meeting before the health care reform someone had a placard saying “President Obama, not Professor Obama”. The ideas were great, but the lessons were ill-timed and people lost patience. The Democrats didn’t blame the Republicans enough for their mistakes and left the field wide open for the rightists shout from Birth Certificate, to religious faith, to socializing government control, to alien invasion!! The left wasn’t helpful either. Everyone had their own agendas and thought that’s the most important agenda of all. When their point was not taken, Obama became a centrist and a “betrayer”.
The administration didn’t identify peoples’ psychology either. They thought, people will be patient and resilient and will change habits. Also they wanted to achieve the most difficult legislation when the momentum was high. The time and effort the administration wasted on health care brought immense pressure on House preventatives whose constituencies had no job and foreclosed neighborhoods. They paid the price in this election by loosing seats in blue collar Democrat states like Illinois and Pennsylvania. When they needed support to make people understand the financial benefits to their people they didn’t have Obama. Also the House voted for the most comprehensive bill for environmental reform which was a bipartisan move. Obama administration didn’t push for it in Senate, instead went for health care. Many conservative Democrats and some liberal Republicans felt betrayed and many paid the price for that vote too. The good jobs were not publicized and the negative bashing was left unchallenged. Result a rising Tea Party movement, that has now two Senators and fifteen House Reps. Oh! did I mention Ten Governorship also changed hand from Dems to Repubs!!
This is not the first time that a massive change in mid-term election happened as a mandate to the President as I mentioned before in a blog. But the problem is, this is the most partisan political scenario that many political Pundits says since WWII. That can’t be good news for Obama! The House Democrats would think twice to back him now, and liberal Republicans have ultra Rightist Tea Party Movers with a candidate ready. How many legislation would pass in the next two years will be a monumental job for the Obama Administration. Already the incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner and Tea Party Senator Rand Paul has vowed to repel Obama legislations.
Immigration is going to be a huge issue. Obama talked about a “Dream Act” which will allow children who grew over here, went to school but are still undocumented because their of their parent status will have a chance to get documented. That can go to sleep. Cap and Trade was held, now it’ll be interesting to see what this Congress will do on Environment issue. Alternative energy is a sector where many white collar and blue collar jobs could be created. That looks like a far fetched idea.
The next two years Obama should listen to one Bangla song “Akla Cholo re”! 🙂