Gail Collins, writing in the New York Times, has words of hope for Democrats regarding the changes that are in the wind. Her message, in a nutshell: it’s not as bad as it looks.
Though much of her optimism amounts to whistling past the graveyard (she importunes Democrats in North Dakota to scour the countryside for a replacement for the outgoing Byron Dorgan, adding manically that “there’s got to be a potential junior senator somewhere in your 641,000 fine residents”), she is correct on one point. The likely replacement for Chris Dodd in Connecticut will be the state’s attorney general, Richard Blumenthal. Not only is Blumenthal a known quantity among Nutmeg State residents, but he is popular. According to one poll, he leads his Republican challengers for the soon-to-be-vacant seat, Rob Simmons, Linda McMahon, and Peter Schiff by margins of 59-28, 60-28, and 63-23 respectively.
But even those healthy leads are not carved in stone. No one expected the field to shift this much in a single year of the Obama presidency. Then again, no one—at least on the Democrat side—anticipated what a singularly dreadful and divisive president Obama would turn out to be.
So, is the news as good for Republicans as it seems overall? Not hardly. While aggregate polling at Real Clear Politics has Republicans overtaking Democrats by a 43.3 percent to 40.5 percent margin in a generic congressional vote, those numbers aren’t exactly cause for dancing in the street. What they reveal is that Americans are sick and tired of both major parties, the Dems slightly more so at this point.
Part of the problem is that Republicans still lack a message and leadership. And you can’t exactly point to the Republicans’ far more palatable options for health care reform as an example of a message, because they did nothing to fix the broken health care system in six years of congressional leadership and eight in the executive branch. Republicans are also sorely in need of a leader, a role that I am not convinced Sarah Palin will be able to fill in three years.
But there are things we can all do to widen the path for the more palatable of the two major parties. These include:
- Continued pressure on our elected officials. If you haven’t been making phone calls or writing letters to your local congressmen, what’s keeping you. They deliberately forced the health care vote through the Senate before Christmas so senators could avoid the flak they were sure to get from their constituents during the holiday break. Even so, Ben Nelson is apparently feeling some pangs of conscience or pressure from his voter base, judging from reports that he now feels the whole health fiasco was a mistake when the economy continues to founder.
- Becoming a vocal opponent of Obama and other haughty Democrats. The Tea Party movement has done much to alert the American public to what is at stake if Barack Obama’s power continues to go unchecked. These protesters have helped shape public opinion and precipitated the drop on Obama’s poll numbers. But there is still much more to be done. Frankly, the health care fiasco should never have gotten as far as it has. The next major Tea Party event is scheduled for April 15 of this year, tax day. If you can make it, join the march on Washington. Don’t be deterred by the mainstream media (a pox on them), which attempted to dismiss last year’s tax day event as a blip or an aberration. Let’s make our voices loud enough to reach across the White House lawn directly to the Oval Office and to its current and—God willing—soon-to-be-former occupant.
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