Instead of celebrating next month’s anniversary of Obama’s victory, many Democrats will be nervously facing the prospect of the 2010 Congressional midterm election.
You can already hear the moaning and groaning about losing the House and our “filibuster-proof” Senate majority.
We’ve got to hand it to the Republicans. They’ve energized their base, driven down Obama’s polls and exposed weaknesses in the White House, the Administration and the President himself.
Democrats are split and confused on who to blame. One impulse is to blast Obama for a failure of courage, for not “taking on” his opponents. Another explanation is that Americans are pretty conservative and reform-resistant.
Of course, within that simple dichotomy is considerable nuance. Some progressives tend to believe that elite institutions - corporate, media, financial, military - control the levers of power, the debate and ultimately the public mind.
Others who roam the American left - like me - can’t shake the idea that there’s a conservative temperament that runs deep in the American character.
We can’t settle that argument here.
But this is what we know and can agree on:
The Republicans are depending on a strategy of constantly chipping away at Obama’s stature, credibility, competence and integrity. Their goal is to fracture the President’s governing consensus. (See RNC chair Michael Steele’s remarks on the Nobel Peace Prize).
Nothing is more important than for Democrats - progressive, liberal, centrist, whatever - to prevent another Republican takeover.
If you need a fresh reminder, pay attention to former Sen. Max Cleland’s account of his reelection defeat in 2002. A Vietnam vet and triple amputee, Cleland was savaged as unpatriotic in the Karl Rove-engineered campaign.
When we won nearly a year ago, I was certain that my friends and colleagues on the left would become disappointed, disillusioned and frustrated with the inevitable concessions, compromises, stumbles and setbacks.
My approach to the Obama-era has been to advocate closing ranks and holding our ground. I admit that I operate out of fear.
I can’t forget how dangerously and frighteningly close our nation came to authoritarianism in the Bush years.
So however health care legislation comes out, I will support it. Whatever financial reform looks like, I’ll back it. And, a year from now, I will cheer on any and every Democratic Congressional candidate including - and especially - the Blue Dogs.
The Republicans hope to win back the House in 2010. We’d better not let them.