Thursday, October 23, 2014

The empty spectacle of the 2014 Midterm Election

It might be hard to hear or admit, but here's the bleak reality of what's culminated into this lackluster midterm election...
Reason: With just two weeks until election day, the most striking thing about the 2014 midterm may be how petty and substance-free it is. No major policy issue has defined this election; no major legislation is immediately at stake. It is possible to find candidates talking about a variety of policy issues—Obamacare, the minimum wage, immigration, the Export-Import bank, and more—but the implications are described almost entirely in political terms. For the most part, the focus for both parties is not on what they would do, but what they wouldn't, not who they are, but who they aren't. It's an election about nothing, except, perhaps, who one hates the most.

The big problem for Democrats is that President Obama is unpopular, and voters dislike his handling of major policy areas. ...

The president's sagging popularity means that Democrats can't easily campaign on his policies or his proposals. And it has given Republicans a blunt object with which to attack opponents. At this point, dissatisfaction with the president appears to be strong enough that this has given Republicans an edge.

Yet Republicans have a problem of their own. Despite their attacks on Obama and his policies, they have almost nothing specific to say about what they would do instead—and much of what they are saying is either incoherent or opportunistic.

For years, the party has failed to rally around an alternative to Obamacare, even while repeating the mantra "repeal and replace." This election, the first following Obamacare's major coverage expansion, many Republican candidates have tip-toed carefully around the possible consequences of repealing Obamacare, including its Medicaid expansion, suggesting a continuing unwillingness to grapple with the reality of repeal. ...

Broader efforts to define the GOP's policy agenda are similarly underwhelming. The Republican National Committee's (RNC) 11-point "Principles for American Renewal" was intended as a launching pad for a GOP governing vision, and a set of ideas that everyone in the party could agree on. "People know what we're against," RNC Chair Reince Preibus said earlier this month, "I want to talk about the things we're for."

Mostly, though, what the 11 points illustrate is how vague the party's commitment is to anything in particular. It's almost entirely rhetorical fluff...

The result is an election in which Democrats cannot run on what they have done, and Republicans cannot run on what they will do. So petty squabbles and Twitter-friendly soundbites dominate the news as each side attempts to drive turnout by campaigning the notion that the other party is worse—for women or for struggling workers, for the economy or for America's place in the world. It's not an election about which side to vote for. It's an election about which side to vote against.

The bipartisan emptiness of this midterm election, and the intense focus by both parties on turning out core voters rather than on broadening party appeal, suggests the deep exhaustion of both parties and their respective agendas. (One reason why Ebola has received so much attention is that it helps fill the void.) At this point, both Democrats and Republicans are running on policy fumes.

Members of the public see less and less to like from almost any politician, even the ones they voted for themselves. Obama's marks are low, but even still, they're stratospheric compared to Congress. ...

In other words, the public is exhausted too. There's no enthusiasm for any of the available options, no sense that either side has a vision worth pursuing or ideas worth trying. It's an election that's not about anything except which side is the worst—and tellingly, what voters really seem to want is to not have to decide.
As Mark Levin made clear last night, it's not enough anymore to just vote (particularly if Americans can't figure out how equally important the PRIMARIES are, perhaps even more so than the general elections). Replacing the worse with the lesser might provide temporary comfort, but doesn't change our nation's trajectory. We need to utilize every tool that the Framers gave us in order to restore our Republic. We've gotta try...and a great place to start is the Article V process.

Related links: Understanding how an unprincipled GOP could still win the Senate
Reclamation: The time for ceding ground must end!
STEYN: One person can change everything and 'I like Ted Cruz'

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