The midterm elections are over - and changed the political spectrum
As could be expected, the party of President Obama, i.e. the Democrats, lost the midterm elections and as the Republicans have now a majority in both Chambers of Congress, they are in effect the ruling party. There are some major players to blame for this shift and I list them in, what I consider, descending order, i.e. the top is what I consider the main factor for the loss.
Analysis of midterm elections1) The politicians of the Democratic Party. Indeed, these politicians have the largest responsibility because they are directly involved in the policy making and thus should have known how difficult it was for their president. Still, many candidates distanced themselves from their president instead of defending his policies and thus they confirmed what the Republicans claimed, i.e. President Obama is a weak politician whose ideas are wrong. Indeed, a number of Democratic politicians were already moving in the direction of the ideas of the Tea Party and after these results probably will move even further in that direction instead of defending the ideas of their president when he was first elected about change for the better. It seems commentators are waiting for comments from the Democratic side that is in favour of Mrs Hillary Clinton and many think that side may criticise the president and agrees with the Republicans that President Obama's competence is the problem although I don't think her camp will attack him directly. But if ever she gets elected, then probably she too will experience the difficulties of being president in a country that is ruled by politicians who think they have to follow the ideas of the Tea Party, such as fewer rights for women (e.g. contraception) but also more powers for big businesses. Because, to get power, many people will bow for whatever they think will advance them and thereby abolish their own ideas or drop the person who helped them in power.
2) The - what is known as - left-wing media and celebrity journalists of whom many initially supported Mr Obama but later started criticising him for being too weak. If they are really good journalists, how can they not understand the difficulties President Obama faced? How can they criticise Mr Obama for being too weak or divisive unless they, who live in the US and report each day about politics, really don't understood the hate from some against the President (at least, that is how I experience it in Europe after reading newspapers)? But, it is not always easy to understand how some people can hate a person (or his ideas, what is acceptable) so much that they would block every action of that person. Indeed, whatever President Obama does, trying to reach deals with the opposition (such as during the budget talks) or use of executive orders (such as trying to reduce future CO2 emissions), always he is blamed for doing things wrong, i.e. endangering the economy or being weak. This media could have exposed and reported much better than they did how the opposition was blocking everything their president did and how the opposition tried to reintroduce many old policies (such as opposing contraception and also abortion, equal human rights, healthcare insurance, ... while supporting the death penalty and carrying weapons although many people consider these policies are good). Because the 'right-wing' media indeed reports many untruths about the policies of their president, therefore the 'left-wing' media could have tried more to set things within perspective (e.g. the economy is recovering while big industry keeps wages down) so people would have been better informed.
3) The Democratic voters. Although they were the people who decided which party would win or loose as many decided not to vote, I only place them third as voters are the least informed and depend upon others for information. Still, voters have a major responsibility for doing research so they can think and thus go voting for the right party. As many were disappointed President Obama didn't achieve more (except in his first two years when the Democrats had a majority in both Houses), many stayed home even when defeat was predicted. On the other hand, probably many Democratic voters were disappointed with the Democratic candidates of which some even refused to confirm whether they voted for Mr Obama during the presidential elections and thus in effect aligned themselves with the Republicans and against those voters who voted for Mr Obama during the presidential elections (still those candidates will blame President Obama for their loses). But even his first achievement was one of the reasons why the president lost the first midterm elections (i.e. scaremongering by the Republicans about the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare) and as a result now lost the majority in both Houses as people blamed the president for the failure of getting anything approved in Congress while people should have blamed the Republicans for blocking any legislation. When people are told via polls that their preferred party (or candidates) may loose during an election, people should certainly turn up to vote. It seems many coloured people but also women didn't go voting and as a result the Democrats lost many votes while also support for the Republicans was low. This indicates people didn't turn away from the policies of their president to support the policies of the Republicans. But, if Democratic candidates agree with the policies of the opposition and condemn the policies of their own president, then why vote as both candidates are similar? Indeed, then it may be better that the politicians of the preferred party loose in the hope next time the party chooses better candidates.
4) President Obama. Indeed, if the economy is bad although better than what may have been, he should have said this but also repeat that certain politicians stopped necessary funding to improve the economy. Because even when employment is quite high, the economy is still bad if people earn too little to buy food or live in a decent house. During the elections, he could have emphasised, with examples, that little was achieved because the Republicans blocked many decisions (although people may say that after 6 years he can no longer blame Republicans). He could have campaigned much harder to explain people why they should go voting for Democrats so they get elected and thus get again a majority in both Houses so decisions can be made as were made during his first two years in office. Then it would be up to the people to decide who they believe. Still, it is understandable that a person who is harassed each day gets tired and, as already some commentators mentioned, may regret to be ever elected. But a president who doesn't understand the fear of people that the Ebola virus may enter the country and criticises States that want to quarantine returning healthcare workers while doesn't seem to offer anything else can only expect defeat (certainly when someone tested positive after walking around in New York with millions of inhabitants and visitors). Because, I think (see previous post) he should at least have mentioned that he understand that the quarantine measures in those States are introduced to protect people but that he expected that the quarantine conditions should be as comfortable as possible. I think he should also have spoken much more during the troubles in some cities after black people were killed by police; he could have spoken about his own experiences as a black man in front of a hostile and mainly white political system while he could have spoken about both views (the next white president can't do this as easily). Indeed, racism still rules politics (worldwide) and by speaking out, many people may have understood him while now many may have felt abandoned. Of course, it may be possible (as some claim) that he is closer to the Republicans than we think and doesn't mind loosing to them so he has an excuse to implement their policies. But until his actions may proof this, I assume he is simply getting tired of fighting a whole system and always being criticised, including from within his own party. Most people may have already stopped fighting the hardcore right and may have started working with them or stop politics altogether. Indeed, many Democratic candidates demonstrate this as they were distancing themselves from their own Democratic colleague and president while President Obama is still trying to have fairer policies but receives less and less support and thus becomes even weaker. Maybe he should have been more decisive by forcing certain Democratic politicians to choose between him or the Republicans. For the above reasons, I place President Obama only fourth on the list of those guilty for loosing the midterm elections on the Democratic side because indeed, he too is part of the system.
FutureAfter these midterm elections, the president is forced to work even closer with his opponents. Maybe, when he is forced to sign certain laws he doesn't agree with, he may veto them or use executive powers to introduce his own legislation but that would be quite undemocratic (although some will say he is finally decisive, but in his case, many will say he (as a black man) abuses his powers). For instance, it seems he may decide to use his executive powers concerning immigrants so that millions will be able to stay while the Republicans (i.e. John Boehner) will use this against the president and more in general against the Democrats because during a financial crisis when people are fearing for their jobs or effectively loosing them, people don't want more people (even when they are already in the country). Equally, if the Republicans try to reverse Obamacare, the president may veto this but equally may refuse to veto this as it will be the majority of Congress and thus the president accept their decisions. But maybe, instead of using these powers, he may one day resign as president so he doesn't have to sign legislation he can't defend but also will not stop what the majority of Congress wants. Then he will be able to voice openly his frustration although many of his opponents will not regret anything they did and will only celebrate his departure. Still, this may cause a chock but not a cure as many will claim he really is weak. On the other hand, many people (who are in a similar position) may understand him and agree he was badly treated. Poor man, whatever he may do, racists will always find something to convince others he is to blame (and in general, believing the lies show the inner side of people).
And the Republicans: well done this time. You did what you had to do: defeat your opponent so you can get your own polities done. Or do nothing.
But people may get their punishment for voting stupidly. Indeed, in Texas (of all States), a small town voted in favour of a ban on fracking. While this is democracy at its purest, Republicans are already saying it should be reversed because the bans are based on misinformation – instead of science and fact. Of course, most scientists agree climate change is close to us and thus alternatives for burning fossil fuels should be used (that will also stimulate the economy) while anti-scientists are now using 'science' as a way to defend fracking and thus burning more fossil fuels while the anti vote of people living in Texas indicates something may be wrong with fracking. Similarly, the president may allow the Keystone XL pipeline to please the Republicans in return for more investments in other infrastructure, and thus Republicans may get what they want, including a private sector that may build the infrastructure while even more people will believe the president is on the side of big business. But if he continues to block the pipeline then companies may blame him for bad economic results. Still, if the pipeline is built people may one day regret when nature causes destruction. But people voted for the Republicans and thus should not complain.
Also, Obamacare may change from something positive into something that makes the rich even richer. Indeed, I don't believe the wealthy want to loose this but instead may change conditions so it will benefit them more than ordinary and certainly poor people while they may blame the Democrats for having introduced this system. The president may use his veto to block changes only when indeed he can demonstrate the changes will be negative for people. But people voted for the Republicans and thus should not complain.
Also the economy seems to be doing better and when this continues during the final two years of Obama's presidency, the Republicans may claim it was during their time in Congress and hope it will increase their chances for the presidency. Indeed, trying to implement their own policies now (except a few) may be blocked by the current president while would expose the Republicans' policies. Later they can still change the system by reducing/stopping benefit systems for poor and ordinary as well as sick people while increase stimulus for big businesses. But people voted for the Republicans and thus should not complain.
I think the best strategy for the president is to propose legislation and make public what he proposes. If Congress doesn't agree, challenge them to have an alternative because they are the legislative organisation and it will force them to expose their policies. If they don't come with something new, resubmit the legislation with some changes and explain why something similar has been submitted to Congress (e.g. the Republicans didn't suggest something different or their ideas were too extreme). If Congress refuses, challenge the Congress again to submit legislation that should be made public. Of course, as a result nothing may become approved but people will see who has ideas and who hasn't. Still, people may not see but then history can judge.