The final two years of a President’s term in office is always difficult -- and President Obama is just as vulnerable as his predecessors, if not more. However, if Democrats lose control of the U.S. Senate in this year's mid-term elections, Obama’s final two years in office may be completely lost.
President Obama has faced almost unprecedented opposition from the Republican Party since he was first elected in 2008. Much of this has been due to the strong pull to the right that has been exerted by the Tea Party and other extreme factions within the Republican Party.
He has been saved to some extent by the fact that the Democrats controlled the House of Representatives and the Senate in the first two years of his presidency and the Senate for his entire time in office. The Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives in the mid-term elections of 2010. There is a significant possibility that the Democrats could lose control of the Senate in this year’s upcoming elections.
The loss of the Senate could be disastrous. Currently, Democratic control of the Senate limits the bills that the Republicans can introduce and forces them to compromise on other issues as the recent budget battles showed.
Should the Republicans win the Senate, they would then control both houses of Congress. President Obama’s political life will become increasingly difficult. Republicans will continue to hammer at his existing policies and may block his efforts to deal with ongoing or international and domestic crises. For example, Republicans are already hinting that President’s spending military spending cuts are somewhat responsible for the Russian-Ukraine crisis, even though there is no evidence to support this claim.
Should they win the Senate, Republicans will continue to focus on this issue and use it as a rationale to fight any necessary changes to the budget.
Moreover, controlling both houses of Congress may provide the Republicans with the momentum required to win the Presidency in 2016. This is something that bears thinking about. How did this situation come about when just a short time ago, many political pundits were saying that the Republican Party was dead or dying?
Part of the problem is due to over exuberance and wishful thinking. Too many people refuse to acknowledge that while blacks and Hispanics helped to elect President Obama, he could never have been elected or re-elected without significant numbers of whites voting for him. Moreover, these whites include many Independents and even Republicans. Ignoring the fact that whites are not monolithic is a dangerous political oversight. By not acknowledging and understanding the important role of these swing voters, the President and the Democratic Party has lost an opportunity to create an important coalition.
Specifically, the president has been unable to translate his personal election success to his fellow Democrats. More importantly, his attempt to create a legacy, based on the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) has caused significant problems. While helping the uninsured is a laudable goal, it does no good to pass a law that helps one group while simultaneously hurting a politically significant portion of your supporters. Should independents turn on President Obama in this mid-term election because they feel they have been negatively affected by the ACA, than all of the President’s efforts may be for naught.
I would suggest that the president and the Democrats focus on the improving jobs forecast and the lowering of the unemployment rate. They should also appeal to the many voters who experience a period of unemployment by noting that extending unemployment benefits provided many Americans with the cushion that they needed to weather the storm. They should highlight the Republican’s ongoing efforts to limit or suspend these benefits at a time when many Americans were struggling.
Also, the technological expertise used to help elect and re-elect Obama should be made available to Democrats in key races.
Obama has been accused of not paying attention to mid-term elections in the past. We won’t know if any of these or other actions will make a difference, but given the stakes involved, doing nothing is not an option.
Kevin Martin is an Executive Recruiter and a former technology entrepreneur . He can be reached at By1989@pacificnet.net.