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2006 Dem Prospects - Steve Clemons (New America Fndtn) Norm Ornstein (AEI)

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swag Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-22-06 06:54 PM
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2006 Dem Prospects - Steve Clemons (New America Fndtn) Norm Ornstein (AEI)
Excerpt from a Washington Examiner piece.

1.) Many think that the political landscape is ripe for Democratic gains in the 2006 midterm elections. Is this excitement too optimistic?

Clemons: If you just look at approval ratings for the President and the Republican Party in general, chances are high that Democrats will surge in both chambers of Congress if not take the helm of at least the House in the next election.
Many conservatives and centrist independents feel that the country is caught in a nasty quagmire in Iraq and that the mystique of American power has been punctured -- that America has shown its financial and military limits in a wrong-headed venture abroad. Showing limits is something conservatives never want to do; they don't want to be out on a limb in risky conditions. They see potential enemies like Iran pushing their agendas and allies not counting on us as much. They see a vacuum in American leadership on the economy with no convincing plan regarding renewed investment in education, in technology, or in some galvanizing grand national purpose. Americans increasingly worry that America's $300 billion price tag on Iraq has undermined our ability to spend on what we need at home. They see a presidency that cares about tax cuts during a time of enormous challenge to the nation, and this just doest not compute for many folks.

Ornstein: The odds are very, very strong that Democrats will gain seats in 2006. One part is the historical pattern; the president's party almost always loses seats in the second midterm of a two-term presidency. That is not random; six years into a presidency, fatigue sets in, along with disillusionment by the party base, a scandal (think Sherman Adams, Watergate, Iran/Contra, Monica, and now Abramoff/Plame,) and often serious divisions between a president and his party's Congressional team. Add to all of that an unpopular and difficult war, and the problems flowing from Katrina, the rollout of the Medicare prescription drug plan, wiretapping and the ports, and it would be stunning if the Democrats did not pick up a bunch of seats.

Of course, they are Democrats...To be sure, contrary to conventional wisdom, Democrats do not need a full-blown alternative program. When people are furious with the party that holds the reins of power, the most important thing for the minority or opposition party is to be there standing when voters decide to throw the bums out (and when unhappy partisans on the other side decide to sit on their hands come election time. The second most important thing is to join together to force the majority to make its policies with its own representatives -- at a time when that is a very difficult thing for them to do. The third thing is to come up with some kind of plan to show that if you do get back in power, you know what to do to help Americans and America.

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