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Kevin Buck: Mid mid-term political musings

Posted: December 14, 2009 2:12 p.m.
Updated: December 15, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Election years are the highlight for those of us who follow politics for our own edification and amusement.

Clearly presidential election years are the crown jewels, but mid term elections have their own cachet, allowing politics junkies to "read the tea leaves" of election results.

Then there are the off years when not much happens (except legislation). To keep interested, the conservative Republican and liberal Democratic bases use these times to poke and whack each other with political sticks.

And the political center shakes its collective head and wonders how anything is ever accomplished.

This off year, President Barack Obama, like all politicians, is finding that governing is much more difficult than campaigning.

It is one thing to win votes by inspiring hope with rosy visions of the future and drawing up political blueprints.

It is quite another thing to turn the promises into reality, especially when you have a major political party doing everything in its power to thwart your every move.

Democrats understand the frustration Republicans are feeling as the minority, out of power and with no clear electoral path back.

We were just there.

For six long years we also chafed at having no power in the House, the Senate or the White House. We were on the sidelines as
Republicans cut taxes for the richest Americans and took President Bill Clinton's budget surplus and turned it into trillion-dollar deficits.

The largest federal bureaucracy in the history of the United States was created by Republicans, who also federalized local education and involved us in two open-ended wars, complete with nation-building and the kidnapping and torture of suspected enemy combatants.

Political frustration was a constant Democratic companion from 2001 to 2007.

Now it is the Republicans' turn and one can only imagine the horror they must feel as they see the Democrats using Keynesian deficit spending to (successfully) halt the recession and economic freefall Obama inherited from the Bush administration.

The attempt to provide health care for the 40 million Americans who are currently not covered by any insurance plan is a major irritant to the conservative Republican base.

Apparently anything that threatens the profits and corporate interests of insurance and pharmaceutical companies needs to be defeated outright, no compromise allowed.

As the Tea Partiers say, "No socialized medicine and keep your hands off my Medicare."

And do not get a Republican started on global warming and next year's legislative battle over an energy policy that does not include the words "drill, baby, drill."

All of this discontent on the right is now focused upon regaining majorities in the House and Senate in 2010 and taking back the White House in 2012.

There is much speculation in the Right Wing Noise Machine that this is actually a possibility.

The 1994 "Contract with America" juggernaut led by Newt Gingrich, that finally gave the Republicans a congressional majority, is the precedent most often cited.

I'm not usually one to quash wishful thinking, especially when wishes are all you have, but this is crazy talk.

The Republicans picked up 54 House seats in 1994, a record that has not been repeated. To retake the majority in 2010, the GOP must win 82 seats in the House and 21 seats in the Senate.

Is it just me, or does that seem like a politically impossible feat? Not only is there no brilliant politician like Newt Gingrich guiding the effort, there is no plan and no legislative agenda.

The key to 1994 was the "Contract with America." It gave the American voters something positive to vote for, always a plus in any election.

Today, the Republicans are the Party of No, they oppose every Democratic legislative initiative, but offer no coherent or tangible alternative plans, except tired policies of tax cuts for the rich and deregulated industry.

Since this is a political opinion column, written in a slow political news year, here are a couple of my opinions.

I believe health care reform will be passed early next year. Watered down and compromised almost to death, but historic health care reform nonetheless. And it will be immensely popular with the American public.

Historically, the party in power loses seats in off-year elections and I believe this will be the case in 2010. Democrats will not lose their majorities, but they will lose seats in the House and Senate, a wake up call for 2012.

And speaking of 2012, Republicans, please, please, please nominate Sarah Palin, the gold standard of political theater.

Kevin Buck is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Democratic Voices" runs Tuesday in The Signal and rotates among several SCV Democrats.

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