Thursday, November 06, 2014

Political Post-Mortem and the Way Forward

In my posting after the Election is made a declaration that God reigns, no matter the results.  My ultimate allegiance is to the Source of all things and to the Christ and to the Holy Spirit. My commitment is to the reign of God and not simply the American dream.  When and if they coincide I celebrate. When they don't, I seek to work with others to change the realities of my context.

Having made my declaration of faith, I feel better able to offer my thoughts on the election.  Here is my assessment and my thoughts on the way forward.  First of all, I need to declare my partisan sympathies.  I am and have been a Democrat since 1982, though I grew up in a politically active GOP family.



First of all, the Democrats only have themselves to blame for last night. The party was too focused on single issues (contraception) that did not inspire (see Mark Udall).  They used fear of impeachment and repeal of the Affordable Care Act to try to rally voters.  And once again they proved unable to get voters to the polls.

Second, since everyone knew that this was a referendum on Barack Obama's presidency, they did themselves no favor by hiding from him.  I find it instructive that on a night when the Republicans ran the table in Michigan, the one place they failed to win was in the Senate race.  Here's what is important to point out to those who distanced themselves and lost anyway -- Gary Peters embraced Obama and won big.  That he didn't have the best opponent is irrelevant. In a wave election he stood out.

The Democratic Leadership in House and Senate have failed to make a compelling case for their priorities, which by and large I think a majority of Americans support.  Again, since getting spooked in 2010 they have failed to champion the ACA.  It's time for Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to pass the torch.

While I don't know what the GOP did with emails -- I think that the constant barrage of emails from every sector of the Democratic Party asking for donations and offering gloomy assessments if I don't cough up big bucks turned people off.  I had to delete from 10 to 20 emails a day.

While demographic change should help the Democrats, which have a more diverse base, if you can't inspire Millennials and minority voters to register and vote then you're in trouble.  Complaining about the effects of gerrymandering is of little consolation when you can't get your base out in the year when the census comes out.  The Republicans will have the House and many state legislatures until at least 2022 because of  what happened in 2010.

Looking ahead, what do I see?
  • President Obama will be getting lots of bills to veto.  There is no reason to filibuster.  Let the President use the veto, which won't be overturned.
  • President Obama will not be impeached.  Impeachment would turn off the American public to the Republicans and lead to a Democratic win in 2016.
  • President Obama will have the opportunity to achieve some successes on a number of issues from trade to infrastructure.  He might even achieve some success on immigration reform.  It might be more conservative a venture than would have been passed before, but it should get something done.
  • A Republican Congress needs to show it can govern and not just obstruct.  President Obama wants to burnish his reputation.  There is room to work together.  Democrats might not like it, but I expect this to happen.  Bill Clinton did it and is hailed for it.  
As for me, I will continue to work toward a more just society from my position as a publicly active pastor.  I will find allies who will join me in accomplishing needed reforms.  As one committed to community organizing, I believe that ultimately it is a matter of engaging the grass roots.

Here then, in closing, is a word from Reinhold Niebuhr that I think can help us deal with the realities of the day:

One of the great resources of this faith for social achievement is the sense of humility which must result from the recognition of our common sinfulness.  Christian brother hood is the brotherhood of common need rather than common achievement.  [Reinhold Niebuhr: Theologian of Public Life (Making of Modern Theology),p. 132]


  






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