Here’s a Winston Churchill quote:
Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
It should be remembered that following Churchill’s historic and inspired leadership during WWII, the British voters turned him out in the first election after war’s end.
In the recent midterm elections, it would seem that the voters rejected President Obama. Six fewer Democratic Senators will serve in the new Congress. Speaker-to-be John Boehner and the Republicans wrenched control of the House from the Democrats. According to the voters, it would appear that Obama’s first two years have been an abysmal failure.
Did the voters choose wisely? Was their judgment sound?
Of course, the party in power always loses Congressional seats in midterm elections. Of course, the party in power always loses seats when the economy is bad, and this economy has been very bad. Yet, the recent election is more ironic than historic.
It is ironic that voters blame the Democrats for the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, but it is clear that the economy collapsed in the late months of the Bush administration.
It is ironic that the voters blame the Democrats for a bleak employment/jobs situation when the independent Congressional Budget Office reports that Obama’s stimulus saved 3.6 million jobs.
It is ironic that the voters blame the Democrats for government gridlock, but it is clear that it was the Republicans, the “party of no”, that went went all-in and resisted at every turn, choosing politics over policy. With cries of “socialism” and “government takeover of the health care system” (chosen the “biggest lie” of the year by a Pulitzer Prize winning fact-checking organization), the traditional notion of the “loyal opposition” seems rather hollow.
Finally, the biggest irony of all, that sums up all the rest, is the perception that President Obama and the current Congress have failed, and that their performance should be judged by the results of the recent election. In a posting in the popular First Read political website/blog of MSNBC, Mark Murray called this the “do-something” Congress, and makes this observation:
[L]ost in the poll numbers and the voters’ message in November is this one unmistakable fact: This Congress, which likely will come to a close this week, accomplished more, legislatively, than any other Congress since the 1960s (the Great Society) or the 1930s (the New Deal).
In the past two years, it has:
— expanded the safety net with the health-care law;
— invested billions in the nation’s roadways, airports, schools, and green technologies with the stimulus;
— reformed the nation’s financial system with financial reform;
— passed billions in tax cuts for Americans with the stimulus and the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts
— expanded civil rights with the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
And in its final piece of business, the Senate is currently working on one of the White House’s top foreign-policy goals: ratification of the New START treaty with Russia. Then throw in all of the other legislation enacted this Congress, like credit-card reform and the Lilly Ledbetter anti-pay-discrimination act.
Murray then quotes Congressional scholar Norm Ornstein:
“I would probably rank the New Deal [Congress] first,” congressional scholar Norm Ornstein told First Read. “I think this one edges the Great Society. It is at least on par with the Great Society.”
“For all the dysfunction, it was just astonishing what they were able to get done,” Ornstein added.
One thinks that history will judge President Obama and the 111th Congress more favorably than did the electorate.