On the eve of the 2014 elections, it’s important to remember that Republicans have been deliberately sabotaging both the President and the economy for five years. They made their intentions perfectly clear in the meeting Thom Hartmann calls “Caucus Room conspiracy” meetings of 2009, and in 2010 remarks in which Mitch McConnell declared that “the single most important thing we (Republicans) want to achieve” is to make Barack Obama a “one-term president.”
Not to repair the wounded economy, or to make America safer – no, the self-declared mission of the Senate’s senior Republican was, and is, to politically harm Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. If Mitch McConnell becomes majority leader after this election, this “enemy within” strategy toward governance will have at least partially succeeded.
Pundits are blaming the Democrats’ difficulties on President Obama’s unpopularity. If this election turns out to be a referendum on Barack Obama, we need to remind ourselves that the “Caucus Room conspiracy” set out to drive down his popularity by undermining government efforts to revive the economy, and by ensuring that he had as few legislative accomplishments as possible. Obama’s low poll numbers can be attributed in large part to this unpatriotic effort (although his own laxity in responding to their aggression made the problem worse).
After fighting all efforts to aid the economy for five years, Republicans may be on the verge of being rewarded for it. Nearly 90 percent of all voters consider rank the economy as the most important issue, and they now give the GOP a slight edge in its perceived ability to handle it. (See Gallup for more.)
With approval of Congress’ job performance at an abysmal 14 percent, it’s clear that this disaffection is cutting against incumbent Democrats who must also contend with an unpopular president, a bad economy – and no compelling narrative that explains to the public how they would make the economy better. Polls show that voters reject Republican ideas – but they hate the economic status quo even more.
If Republicans are rewarded for their obstructionism with a midterm victory, they will be the moral equivalent of the child in the old joke who kills his parents and then pleads for mercy because he’s an orphan. In the joke, the idea of rewarding an infantile psychopath for his behavior is assumed to be absurd. The idea, after all, makes a travesty of basic justice.
Tuesday we will learn whether it’s equally absurd in a political context.