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Kevin Buck: The pols and the pendulum

Posted: July 8, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 8, 2014 2:00 a.m.
 

The political world is never static. The never-ending battles for power, prestige, policy and the perceived moral high ground are endless and endlessly fascinating.
Most importantly, the outcome of these battles actually affects the everyday lives of every single American citizen and a good portion of the rest of the world, as well.
It has always been a mystery to me why a brutal, no-holds-barred political fight is less interesting to most Americans than vapid pop culture, millionaires playing sports or the modern-day freak show of reality television.
Modern technical and social distractions beat out life-changing elections, a sad commentary on the true state of our union.
The majority of Americans pay little or no attention to the off-year, mid-term elections, and that is their loss, because every election has consequences.
Democrats are running on a populist, progressive domestic agenda, coalescing around the center left policies of President Obama.
White House and Senate proposals are dead on arrival at the House of Representatives thanks to the record-setting, do-nothing Republican majority.
There are no laws being passed, the struggling economy is ignored and the Republicans who ran on a platform of shrinking the federal government are doing their best to drown it in a bathtub, destroying it from within.

Despite Americans giving Congress a much-deserved single-digit approval rating, heavily gerrymandered districts and a rabid base that turns out to vote seem to assure a Republican hold on the House majority for at least one more term.

The Democrats could actually win some House seats this year though, just as they did in the 1998 mid-term elections when they capitalized on an unpopular Republican-led government shutdown and anger at the fanatic political witch hunts conducted against President Clinton — in lieu of actually governing.

The 2014 elections are 1998 on steroids. The current Republican majority also shut down the government in a fit of political pique.

They have been throwing faux Obama scandals against the wall for six years now and have yet to make one stick, in lieu of actually governing.

Democrats are campaigning on actual policies that affect the American people: immigration reform, repairing our crumbling infrastructure, raising the minimum wage and equal pay for equal work.

They are attracting independents and country club conservatives appalled at the scorched-earth approach to government the Republican base and their new overlords, the tea party, have brought to elected bodies across the nation.

The tea party was instrumental in the 2010 wave election that swept Republicans to majorities in the House and state governments across the nation.

There was a price to pay, however: tea party Senate candidates in 2010 and 2012 cost Republicans the Senate majority and they are poised to do it again, for the third straight election.

One of the most interesting dynamics of the current political lineup is that even though far right conservatives hate liberals, Democrats and anybody who dares to agree with them, they have turned their formidable political strength against their own.

They may hate Democrats, but they mostly challenge and run against other Republicans deemed not conservative enough.

Politics junkies on the left are breaking out the popcorn and watching the spectacle of the Republican Party consuming itself from within.

Millions of dollars are being raised and spent by mainstream conservatives and by tea party conservatives to do battle in Republican primaries against each other.

Elected Republican officials no longer view Democrats as the biggest threat to their continuing in office, they now look to their political right for well-funded tea party primary opponents.

There are more Democrats than Republicans in America; if Democrats vote, they win. Republicans can count on their base to vote because the fear and loathing runs deep.

The good news is that recent political events are energizing the normally dormant progressive base — and that spells trouble, with a capital T, for the short and long term prospects of the Republican Party.

The reality-based community is finally paying attention, and it is looking like 2010 was the high water mark for the Republican Party.

Democrats need only to break even in 2014 by holding the Senate and winning some House seats and governorships and because in 2016 we can run the table.

Kevin Buck is a Santa Clarita resident. “Democratic Voices” runs Tuesday and rotates among several Santa Clarita Valley Democrats.

 

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