Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Dem loss in NY-9 shows voters want economic results, not excuses

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“I am a registered Democrat, I have always been a registered Democrat, I come from a family of Democrats — and I hate to say this, I voted Republican,” said Linda Goldberg, 61, after casting her ballot in Queens. “I need to send a message to the president that he’s not doing a very good job. Our economy is horrible. People are scared.”

This quote stemmed from an article about the GOP capturing the NY-9 House race (Anthony Weiner’s old seat) on why the Dems lost a normally secure seat.

Strength of candidates, Israel, the economy, and overall frustration with Congress led to a temporary shift in this district. The temporary shift isn’t all that different from the GOP losing Mark Foley’s (R-FL) old seat in 2006.

However, this isn’t about a temporary shift in a Congressional district. This is about a voter in that district who either doesn’t understand how our representative democracy works, or doesn’t care. She is entitled to not care; she has that right. What is more worrisome is how voters have been making choices since the 2008 presidential election.

The economy wasn’t that great under Republican rule from 2001-2007; total GOP domination. In the collapse of the economy in fall 2008, blame centered on the president and Dems actually gained seats, riding the Obama wave.

Of course, by this logic, President Barack Obama would suffer because the economy isn’t doing well. And overall in elections since 2008, Obama isn’t doing well.

If blame is going to be tied to the White House, regardless of party, should it matter how hard the president tries to fix the situation?

When George W. Bush was in the role, he did very little to try and boost the economy. In 2004, despite horrible economic numbers, people didn’t blame Bush or the GOP-led Congress for the bad job numbers.

Linda Goldberg wanted to send a message to the president, President Obama, to do something about the economy. Did she not hear about this American Jobs Act? Has she not been aware of what the president and her (not the, but her) Democratic Party has done and/or tried to do on job growth?

Goldberg’s solution is to put her faith in a party that has done nothing to increase jobs since that 2008 election. When the Dems were in charge, the GOP thwarted job growth at every possible opportunity. Every single one.

What kind of message does that send?

This isn’t to make fun of Goldberg; she merely said aloud what many other voters are thinking: “Our economy is horrible. People are scared.”

The major problem is that the forces who are trying to increase job growth are being punished politically, and the forces that are trying to stunt job growth are being rewarded politically.

Millions of Americans like Goldberg are scared and they have every right to be nervous. GOP politicians have very little reason to be scared; unlike millions of Americans, they aren’t in danger of losing their jobs.

Many on the Democratic side hoped that Obama would learn the lessons of FDR (1934) or Bill Clinton (1994). President Obama did neither and his party lost control of the House, the last bastion of potential job growth legislation in Washington.

8 months after the GOP House takeover and not a single job growth bill from the GOP-led House, and Goldberg blames President Obama. She actually handed her vote to the party that isn’t concerned about the horrible economy.

Goldberg is right in that Obama has not led on this issue in 2011, spending the spring and summer chasing the debt ceiling chatter. And his bill, when he finally came up with it, was milquetoast. Still, the party to whom she handed her Congressional vote won’t even pass a milquetoast bill.

As disconnected as Goldberg and other voters have been in the last 3 years, they do stand as a reminder that voters often don’t vote for what they want. These days, voters are more confused than ever; consider that the last 3 Congressional elections produced 3 different combinations of House, Senate, and White House, the most uncertainty in a stretch in Washington since anyone can remember.

The Rolling Stones sang that “you can’t always get what you want.” But many American voters don’t even know what they want. Or they do know what they want, they just don’t know how to get it.


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