Monday, October 24, 2011

"Yes We Can" Again? Yes, He Can.

After moderating a panel at Project New West last week, National Journal's Ron Brownstein noted in his column the increasingly high stakes of winning The West again for President Obama.

On one side are demographic trends that favor Democrats—rising levels of racial diversity, education, and urbanization. On the other is the ideological backlash that the party has repeatedly faced across the region, particularly from whites, when it has controlled the White House and implemented a national Democratic agenda.

President Obama and the Republican presidential contenders who gathered here on Tuesday for their most voluble debate yet all have much at stake in how those competing dynamics intersect in 2012. Obama could struggle in the graying blue-collar Midwestern states that once tipped national elections. That will increase the pressure on him to defend his 2008 victories in Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico, which constitute part of a new arc of youthful and growing swing states emerging across the Sun Belt. Once, the Mountain West was a luxury for Democrats; now, it looks like a necessity.

But then, he said this...

But Democrats were again routed across the region in 2010 (losing seven House seats and two governorships) as they faced both economic discontent and the widespread sense that Obama was spending and regulating too much. Like the backlash against Clinton, that avalanche raises doubts that Democrats, for all their demographic advantages, can solidify enough support for their national agenda to maintain a lasting edge in these states.

Next year’s election should offer more answers. With the economy still lagging, Obama’s regional standing “has not recovered at all” since 2010, says independent pollster Floyd Ciruli, who is based in Denver. Fewer Democrats talk of flipping Arizona or Montana. And the party faces tough battles in four regional Senate races.

And it makes me think the DC pundit crew still don't get Western politics.

You see, we're about more than just "Bonanza" style "rugged individualism" and "anti-government" mentality. Really, that last "quality" has been fading as a driving force here as many Western states have become more urban and suburban. And especially as people here continue to struggle in this economy, they're looking for real solutions, not more "tea party" "hot air". And as we talked about yesterday, most folks here are smart enough to realize that "the free market" alone can't solve all our problems.

And now as the foreclosure crisis suddenly starts to make headlines again, President Obama is set to draw a huge contrast with the GOP field. Obama is set to expand refinancing aid to more distressed homeowners by removing equity caps that so far have prevented the vast majority of underwater homeowners (especially in places like here, where many homeowners are far more than 10% underwater) from accessing help.

President Obama will also be talking about the Jobs Act here, and at Denver on Wednesday. If passed, the Jobs Act can save or create thousands of jobs right here in Nevada. That's no "temporary little band-aid". Rather, it's a much needed life preserver that can help save our economy from double-dip recession.

So why don't we see it this way on the TV news programs? Well, the Republicans are hoping we all have collective amnesia and blame Obama for their obstruction. But when I've talked to other voters here, it isn't quite that simple. They're not all ignorant enough to forget about that thing called Congress, and those that are more in tune with what's happening really don't like what Congress is (not) doing.

As we discussed last week, Obama has presided over remarkable success in the foreign policy front... So why has domestic policy been such a blunder? Perhaps because Congressional Republicans (and some short-sighted Blue Dogs) won't let him succeed?

If Obama has been so successful in foreign policy, why has he been so unsuccessful on domestic issues? [...]

So what’s the deal?

It isn't that he's escaped criticism on foreign policy. Republicans -- heck, even some Democrats -- have been critical of Obama's moves. But what he's done has, in the main, worked.

No, domestically the problem is that Obama's opponents have turned criticism into obstructionism. Unlike his foreign policies, Obama's efforts to fix the economy have been thwarted at every turn by Republicans. [...]

The bottom line? It's wrong to say the president's domestic policies haven't worked when those policies haven't even been given the chance to work.

Abroad, Obama has been allowed to set policy, and those policies have been given time to work. And, for the most part, they have.

Perhaps if Republicans gave the president that same leeway on domestic policy, we might be winning some battles at home, too.

In his National Journal column, Brownstein expressed awe as "leading [Democratic Party] strategists expressed unruffled, almost blithe, optimism about Obama’s ability to hold the three Mountain states he carried in 2008". At first glance, it may seem like crazy talk. But when one puts together the pieces of the puzzle, the picture becomes crystal clear. People are looking for help. And right now, the Republicans in Congress offer none as the Republican Presidential Candidates promise only more pain. Obama, on the other hand, is offering real solutions. The contrast couldn't be any clearer, and it should be awfully clear once President Obama stands in this neighborhood and details his new foreclosure fighting ideas.

Despite so much going wrong, Obama must be doing something right. For all the talk of bad poll numbers, something isn't adding up. Maybe voters aren't too stupid to realize who's breaking down the system?

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