Though the long term arc of politics of the United States has trended to the progressive, short term politics is cyclical. The pendulum started to swing back to the Democrats shortly after Bush won the 2004 election (yes the avoidance of the term re-election is deliberate). The high mark for the swing of the pendulum was of course the election of the county’s first African American President. The financial crisis, the extreme partisan battle for health care reform and extreme anger and worry with the state of the economy conspired to start the pendulum back toward the right. Populist anger manifest in the astroturf tea party movement set the tone for the meme to gain traction in the media. The long August of angry town halls got the pendulum swinging harder, there was no reason to believe that the trend would not continue. The voices got louder, the charges more vitriolic and increasingly hyperbolic. Then something interesting happened, they went too far.
Maybe it was the defense of torture.
Maybe it was the histrionics of Glenn Beck.
Maybe it was the race baiting of Rush Limbaugh.
Maybe it was the public disagreements of John McCain, with himself.
Maybe it was Orrin Hatch’s demonstrably false statements about processes in the senate.
Maybe it was Liz Cheney going full McCarthy with her jack booted “Keep America Safe” crowd trying to play guilt by association with the DOJ.
Maybe it was all of it…
But the tide has turned, the Democrats are coming back. As evidenced in the latest Gallup numbers the Democrats hold a slight advantage in 2010 election preferences, and this is still while the messy healthcare debate rages. What happens to the right when health care passes? What happens to the right as the economy improves? What happens to the right as the debate moves forward on financial reform and the GOP once again end up defending those that abuse the system on the backs of taxpayers? The right has blown their comeback peaking between election cycles and now they run the very real risk of exacerbating their minority status into what could be a progressive nirvana.
By remaining reasonable, many would say to a fault, Obama has managed to push the right into positions that a year ago they would have considered unfathomable. And each time they stir up controversy with hyperbole whether it is health care, stimulus, race or diplomacy … Obama continues to speak to the American people, the pendulum swings back and the GOP is left looking like a bunch of petulant children. Each time the right escalates the crazy Obama comes back with the same reasonable, measured, discourse. With simple language and methodical logic he ties them up in their obstructionism and intellectual dishonesty with mind numbing grace and fairness that drives the left crazy and the right completely mad.
If Obama keeps on being so fair, so reasonable with such deference to the minority party they might just jump completely off a political cliff, like lemmings into the sea.
I don’t know if this is just the way it is shaking out or if President Obama is a pure political genius. If the Republicans continue to press themselves closer to that cliff we could be witnessing the beginning of the most aggressive move towards progressive politics in the history of the nation.
Think about it, the republicans are parroting talking points that are becoming less and less reasonable while Obama remains maddeningly consistent. We may be witnessing the suicide of a political party who cannot under any circumstances bear to see the President accomplish anything. Each cycle makes them look smaller and less capable while Obama grows in stature and appears more pragmatic.
Six weeks ago right after the Massachusetts Senate race it looked like health care was a heavy lift. It looked like the Democrats were facing a very tough election cycle in which control of the senate was at risk and not just the margin of majority. It looked like a desperate ineffectual dysfunctional party, not so much anymore.
The future is much less certain now for the Republicans, if they keep reaching further to the right in an idiotic attempt to placate FreedomWorks and their ilk the damage of the 2010 elections could be devastating. The tide is shifting, I think the Republicans are starting to feel it. Will they be able to change course in time to salvage credible minority status?
I don’t think so, and you can quote me.