Thursday, November 18, 2010

Democrats’ Staggering Debacle

Upright Opinion
November 3, 2010
Democrats’ Staggering Debacle
By Saeed Qureshi
The Democrats party that scored a sweeping victory in November 2006 elections by capturing the House of Representatives, the Senate, and a majority of governorships and state legislatures from the Republican Party, has suffered a serious setback in the current mid-term elections.
Out of the total 435 seats in the House, its strength has plummeted from 233 to 185 against the Republican Party’s ascension from 202 to 239. In the Senate, it retains a marginal majority with 52 seats against the GOP’s (Republican Party) 46. In 2006, this ratio was 51 to 49. The number of governors elected on the Democrats platform in 2006 was 28 and that of the GOP 22. Now the ratio has changed from 19(democrats) to 29(GOP) with 4 undecided and I independent.
The underlying catalysts of this watershed debacle for Democrats and particularly president Obama are obvious. The slogan on the basis of which president won his 2008 elections that he would bring a change has not materliased practically. The change that president Obama promised was essentially a vague term that had multiple dimensions. But the fundamental change that the American expected was to reorder the debilitating economy and restore the prosperous image of the United States. It was a tall order that could not be achieved in two years.
But still president Obama did his best to restrain the downslide trend of the economy by adopting various drastic measures such a stimulus package, bailouts, and some tax reliefs. But these were effective only in stemming the decline but fell short of addressing other issues that related to the life and living of majority Americans, especially the middle and the lower classes.
To be fair, it would not be possible for any human being to restore the economic vibrancy of the United States and revive the Clinton era when jobs were plentiful and the budget was surplus for the first time. The economy has immensely debilitated and weakened by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan mounted after 9/11 incident. The huge US budget was allocated every year for those disasterous yet futile wars draining the national exchequer and diverting the resources and funds from pressing domestic projects and economic uplift.
The Americans are not in the habit of rationalizing the underlying reason for a crisis. They want results and if Obama’s administration gave, a clarion call for gubernatorial revolutionary changes and a big break from the past, its salubrious effects should have been seen on the ground.
Equally, injurious was president Obama’s entire emphasis on healthcare reforms, which was a huge social benefit or facility but affected a narrow segment of society. The people were used to the health care system already in vogue and the change would have mattered marginal in their lives for the health coverage. President Obama made the grievous mistake by wrongly calculating that his health care was an unprecedented achievement that would ensure the continuation of his popularity and good public image.
He did recall the major portion of troops from Iraq but it would still not affect the economic well being of the ordinary Americans especially the youth and students who looked up to Obama as the apostle of new hope, promising change and as the leader of a new generation.
Obama dithered and wasted time in not moving effectively, resolutely and rapidly on such vital issues as immigration for Mexicans and other illegal countless immigrants whose legal relatives voted for Obama in 2008 under the express hope that he would take decisive decision on this gubernatorial issue and grant them some kind of legal status. This did not happen. As such, this time the Latino votes were mostly cast against his party.
On the Middle East’s thorny issues with Israel-Palestinian conflict on top, Obama did try and pull his strings but was stuck us with impasse that did not throw up any tangible progress and improvement in the stalemated situation already prevailing.
But the overriding reasons that were behind this debacle could be counted as stiff opposition from the special interest groups, the corporate America, the stock exchange, the banks, the ruthless wealthy classes, and the religious conservatives. The color bias was too a negative factor that perhaps did not give enough confidence to get his decisions and visions aggressively implemented. The antagonism from CEOs of mega companies and multinational corporations also stood in the way of his economic reforms to succeed.
They were poised to stop him from rolling back an economic system that thrives and is anchored in huge financial gains for the top wealthy and affluent robber baron classes. His economic measures or reforms were widely publicized and dubbed as bringing socialism in the United State. His health reforms were defined and characterized as hastening the death of the serious patients. His credential as a true Christians were doubted and called into question.
There are very powerful sections in America, which would not want the wars in distant lands to end because of their roaring business of weapons sale, supply of merchandise of all kind, the provision of the security apparatus for soldiers and countless other businesses that flourish on the continuation of war. The companies like Blackwater and Halliburton would not the wars to be wound up and thus slashing their fabulous incomes.
Democrats may finally withdraw the American troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the Republicans who are intrinsically conservative would not want to curtail and end the American distant war so soon. The three trillion dollars that have been shoved into these two wars created a vacuum in the American economy that even many Obamas no matter how wizard and charismatic they may be, cannot fill in.
But in the hindsight of the American politics, there were such despondent reverses that for instance happened in case of President Jimmy Carter and President Clinton but ultimately those bleak situations proved to be silver lining on the clouds. Likewise, a visibly looking disheartened and distressed Obama could still produce some breakthroughs that would be instrumental in keeping him as the president for another term after 2012.
He should entirely focus on refurbishing economy and provide genuine relief and benefits to the grassroots Americans. He should unswervingly find a solution to the hard issues such as Middle East Israel- Palestinian imbroglio. He should not waver or delay on recalling American forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. If there is a chance for revision of the health care reform package, he should be willing to do so in cooperation with the Republicans in the House.
President Obama should create solid conditions for jobs as the unemployment graph is perpetually soaring and people are genuinely frustrated. The housing sector is in a woeful situation with umpteen foreclosing and the depressing slow sale and purchase of houses. If the internal economic situation shows signs of stabilization and swings back, the lower and middle classes once again, may repose their confidence and trust in Obama and his administration.
On the other hand, if the House dominating Republicans think that they would give a further tough time to the Democrats, they should understand that it would prove to be counter-productive for them as well. If their attempt would be to demoralize and create stumbling blocs in the way of passing the Democrats’’ sponsored legislation, they will have to face the public ire. Therefore, the time is ripe for both the sides, which are visibly equally poised in both House and the Senate, should join hands, and work in close collaboration to uplift the United State of America from the morass of graver issues it is steeped in.
(The writer is a Dallas-based freelance journalist and a former diplomat writing mostly on International Affairs with specific focus on Pakistan and the United States)

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