Monday, October 25, 2010

Robert Reich about the 2010 Midterms

This is a great essay from from Robert Reich (at Salon) about how to understand the upcoming midterm election. The key points he makes, under the rubric of advising Obama not to move to the "center":
1. There is no "center" to American politics. The "center" is merely what most people tell pollsters they think or want at any given time. Trying to move to the center by following polls means giving up on leadership because you can’t lead people to where they already are.

2. By the first midterm the public is almost always grouchy because the president wasn’t a messiah and didn’t change the world. No single president has that kind of power. The higher the expectations for change at the start of an administration, the greater the disillusionment.

3. Presidents’ parties always lose the first midterm elections because the president isn’t on the ticket, and the opposing party has had time to regroup and refuel. It’s always easier for the party on the outs to attack -- and to mass troops for the assault -- than for the party inside to defend.

4. The economy trumps everything else, even though presidents aren’t really responsible for it. So when it’s bad -- as it was during the first midterms of Carter, Reagan and Clinton -- voters penalize the president’s party even more than usual. When it’s very bad, the electoral penalty is likely to be that much larger.
But read the whole thing.

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