The polls for Tuesday look grim for weak-kneed and squeamish Democrats who have not stood up for Obama -- or the substantial achievements of his party -- over the last six years.
First rule of warfare: you should never allow your enemy to define the playing field or debate agenda, and this is what Democratic cowardism has done.
Democrats became their own worst enemies and created a self-fulfilling and self-defeating prophecy. The Republican playbook has been obvious from the beginning:
We are living in an unsafe world, terrible things are going on, and Obama is responsible.
There is truth to this, and most Americans have felt an underlying pessimism -- a feeling of doom and gloom -- for at least a couple of decades, a feeling that the American Empire, our American supremacy, our way of life, is slowly, but inexorably, fading away.
An overwhelming number of Americans endorse the theme that "Everything Sucks." Seventy percent believe that we are headed in the wrong direction, and 60 percent think we are in a state of decline.
And in a global sense, it is all true, our superpower existence is slowly eroding.
There are seismic global changes, historic technological transformations, that have changed and are changing everything at a frightening speed.
The rest of the world is catching up and threatens to overtake us in the near future. Our jobs have migrated overseas at an astonishing rate over the last twenty years.
China is on the verge of surpassing us in GDP.
Our health care, once the envy of the world, now ranks 37th according to the World Health Organization. Thirty other countries have a better educational system. Our ranking on economic freedom comes in at sixth, between Chile and Canada. Amnesty International ranks us seventh in terms of government repression. On corruption, America ranks 22nd. And on the key issue of social mobility, the U.S. ranks lower than a number of European countries.
9/11 only added to this feeling. Ever since 9/11 -- and perhaps even before -- there has been a pervasive pessimism that has chipped away at our national pride. American anger, which had been simmering below the surface, exploded. We wanted to go to war against all the invisible mysterious enemies threatening our existence.
The Republicans have cleverly exploited these fears, but they offered no vision, no clear agenda, no message to deal with the problems. "It's terrible, terrible, terrible" and somebody must be to blame and that somebody is, not surprisingly, President Obama.
The Democrats did not rise to the challenge. They let the Republicans hijack the playing field. The Democrats could have played political jujitsu with the basic Republican attack. They should have acknowledged the anxiety of the average voter and asked the fundamental question: who can best deal with these problems in the future, and which party has dealt with them most successfully in the past? Pander to the fears of the electorate. It always works.
Voters know that Obama has been dealt a number of nasty hands in secession. But they also know that he played them extremely well--not perfect, but extremely well.
The issue that should have been on the table and should be foremost in voters' minds in the election booth is:
Are you better off now than you were six years ago?
Damn straight you are. The answer is clear.
-- The economy is growing at the rate of 3.5 percent -- Unemployment: 5.9 percent is the lowest since the summer of 2008 -- GDP was up 4.6 percent in the second quarter of 2014, the highest growth rate in 2.5 years -- The stock market is at 16,800--more than double what it was on Bush's last day at 7,949 -- Real estate prices have nearly recovered from a 30 percent collapse. -- The auto industry was saved. -- Everyone is entitled by law to some form of health insurance.
But, instead, the Democrats folded their cards. They stayed away from the big, important stuff -- the challenges that are threatening our way of life and played under Republican rules.
No wonder they will lose.
This election is not really very important. Nothing much will ease the gridlock in Washington no matter who controls the Senate.
But, this election will be an important guide to the future of our country and how we will deal with our fundamental structural problems in 2016.
Maybe this loss will teach the Democrats a lesson for the next presidential election in two years.
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