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The Real Price of Change

In 2008 the Democratic Party hoped that Americans were insecure enough and unhappy enough with the way things were in Washington D.C., that they would buy the "Change" brand sight unseen. But it's 2010 and the American People are quickly waking up to the real price of change.

The American People had thought that "Change" meant responsible management and a wake up call to the establishment, instead it proved to be the ad slogan that greedy and partisan Democrats used to fool the public long enough to claw their way and start spending money like drunken sailors. This alone might have been bad enough, though the public has become all too used to congressmen and presidents treating the US Treasury as if it was play money. But ObamaCare was one straw too many, because it was not just another decimal in the national debt anymore, it was a burden placed directly on the taxpayer, it was a tax added directly to household income, it was an attack on the health care system designed to benefit the people who voted for Obama because they thought he would pay their bills for them.

The "Trust" is gone now and the "Change" brand means something else than it used to. Today Change means getting the Democrats out of D.C. And while the Democratic plan is still to run as the Candidates of Change, they are the candidates that the average voter wants to change. The Democrats have lost crossover Republicans. They've lost Independent voters. And they've lost a lot of Conservative Democrats too. The Change brand is gone. All that's left is Hope, the hope that the shrinking number of their supporters will even bother to turn out in favor of the incumbents.

“This time we will make the case that supporting a Republican is simply turning back the clock to Bush economic policies, the same policies that got us into this mess to begin with, and the Republicans will I think put themselves clearly in the position where they represent the status quo and that the Democrats, while we have the White House and both houses of Congress, remain the party of change and reform.”

Chris Van Hollen, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

The psychological crossed wires in which the chairman of the congressional campaign committee that is in the majority in both houses, can seriously contend that he does not represent the status quo, is unfortunately all too prevalent among liberals, who like to believe that they're the voice of the opposition fighting "the man", even when they are in power, and they are "the man".

But it's also a tenet of liberal ideology, which is rooted in the progressive vs conservative formula, that they always represent reform, while their enemies represent the status quo. Unfortunately Van Hollen, like many of his peers, is confusing his ideological position, with what the public is actually prepared to believe.

Liberals always see themselves as revolutionary insurgents, but the public isn't buying that brand right now. Anti-Incumbent fever is running high and the Democrats are the incumbents. Van Hollen's strategy would require incumbents to argue that they represent change, while their challengers who are mostly new to D.C., represent the status quo. This sort of paradox would fit in neatly in a Doublespeak book of grammar, but would only elicit laughter from the average voter.

Worse yet Van Hollen would like to refight 2006 and 2008, much as so much of his party think in terms of the Vietnam War, but his party squandered their victories of 2006 and 2008 by repeatedly betraying the public trust.

Van Hollen's troops want to warn ominously about a return to Bush era economic policies, a threat that would carry more resonance if it wasn't coming from the people who tripled the deficit in a single year. Even the worst Bush era economic policies look good compared to those of Obama, Reid and Pelosi. When you've got an administration whose economic policy is run by tax cheats and one of whose leading economic advisers insists that huge deficits are actually a good thing, the Bush Administration looks like a beacon of fiscal sanity.

Van Hollen's approach is as ridiculous as Gorbachev insisting that if Communism falls, Russians will have to face Czarist era economic policies. The Russian people at that point were not too terrified of an economic situation where there might actually be food in stores. And the American people are not that terrified of a return to an economic situation where they get tax cuts and aren't forced to buy health insurance, and the deficit is a whole lot smaller.

The Pre-2006 Democratic congress economic situation looked a whole lot better than the last 4 years. And the post-2008 economic situation is a whole lot worse than it was beforehand. As Democratic control has tightened, the economic situation has spun further out of control. And while Van Hollen might imagine that the public is too stupid or gullible to know the economy is in bad shape or to have any idea where to place the blame, the polls show that he is deeply wrong.

Because the entire high profile rollout of programs by the Obama Administration means that the public knows exactly who is to blame. ObamaCare is the Waterloo that tops them all. The Democrats would like to shove it all off on Bush, but that could only have worked if Obama had avoided major initiatives and spent his first year on damage control. Instead his first year was all major initiatives, and so instead of playing a Nero who fiddled while D.C. burned, he instead created his own starring role as the arsonist who burned it all down.

While the media will go into overtime assuring voters that an economic recovery is underway, people who do their own household budgets know exactly what the score is. The people who are out of work, the people who are afraid that they will be out of work, and the people who unlike the free spending politicians in Washington, pay their own bills, know when there is an economic recovery. And it won't be because the media runs 300 choreographed stories sung to the tune of "Happy Days are Here Again" trumping the economic recovery.

If Van Hollen and his colleagues have to try and make the argument that they represent a more responsible brand of economic management, the numbers alone won't bear them out. They may try to take credit for fixing the economy, but that requires actually fixing the economy, which is hard when everything you've done has only made the economy steadily worse. So what's left?

The public no longer wants the old change that the Democrats were shopping in 2008. They want a new change, and to survive in that environment, the Democrats have to do what the Republicans tried to do in 2008, which is run away from their own man at the top. The "Change" brand is heavily associated with Obama. As is every major program over the last year. But ObamaCare's climactic vote makes it possible for them to run very far. Because in the end even Stupak had to come back to Obama. And when there's nowhere to run, then there's nothing left except spite.

The Democrats now own the economic catastrophe. They own it politically in a way that no amount of spin campaigns can change. But while that might be bad enough, it wouldn't have been fatal. Obama and the Democrats could have always argued for more time, asked for more patience and promised that results were coming. But ObamaCare changed that too. Because while the public was suffering, what they saw on the TV screens was an out of touch congress and administration determined to ram through a piece of legislation that they generally did not want and did not think addressed their real economic concerns.

The Democrats had not simply failed, they were out of touch-- and that combination is utterly deadly to politicians in a democratic society. A politician can survive failure by being responsive or survive being out of touch when things are going well-- but surviving both at the same time is a whole other story, because the combined formula is a statement that says, "I'm making things worse and I don't care." And very few people will vote for that. The bills for the real price of change are coming in, and the American People are getting ready to respond with some pink slips of their own.


  1. THANK YOU for posting this. I LOVE your blog!

    Common Cents

    ps. Link Exchange??

  2. I can't imagine things being better in 2010 either. We just seem like we are on a downward spiral.


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