We’ve seen this before. In 2002 the Democrats’ message was, “Get back at ’em for 2000.” In 2004, it was, “Bush sucks. I’m not Bush. Vote for me.” Now, it’s.”Republicans suck. We’re not Republicans. Vote for us.” And that, friends, is the extent of it. There’s no cohesive message beyond this. Even when speaking about the problems in Iraq-admittedly a troubling endeavor for many people, to say the least-the Democrats really have nothing new to say. In fact, what they do say is so old, it’s reminiscent of what they’ve said in conflicts past-if it gets tough, run away.
In congressional races that are tight, it has-as in most cases-more to do with the character of the contest between two individuals than with any one national policy. This is to say that the local character of the race is what ends up being most important.
Admittedly, the Democrats are poised to pick up enough seats to retake the majority in the House of Representatives and will, in all likelihood, close the gap in the Senate, barring an outright takeover there as well. But is this because their ideas are now, after all this time, just that much more appealing?
Their ideas didn’t resonate all those other times because their ideas aren’t popular. They aren’t resonating now, either. To the extent that the situation in Iraq has had an effect on this election cycle, it’s simply because the situation there looks consistently bad, not because the Democrats’ alternative on Iraq has any great appeal. This is because there is no coherent Democrat alternative on Iraq, other than running away, very fast.
Winning enough seats in the house because the current majority has problems is hardly an affirmation that anything liberals stand for is worthwhile, which it’s not. They will of course convince themselves this is not true, that they’ve won the philosophical argument for all time just like they did in 1992. two years before they lost it again. What is missing from this logic is the fact that what Democrats normally campaign on remains essentially unchanged from 1992, and that’s the last time it did them any good.
In the final analysis, if the Democrats do take over one or both houses of Congress, it will be in spite of themselves, not because they’ve won anybody over. That will still give them control of that branch of the government, but when all is said and done, that’s a flimsy foundation upon which to rest a so-called revolution.
Scott Wacholtz is a graduate student in the history department. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.