(Carbonated TV Exclusive)
The mid-term election fever has reached full pitch in its final week, and the candidates are pushing forward their campaigns in an attempt to rally more supporters and votes. Democrats and Republics are rattling their sabers, vying for the control of the Mother ship – the Congress, and it seems that Republicans have a strong edge, according to the opinion polls at least. In 2002 mid-term elections, it was the agenda of fighting against terrorism that tipped the weighing scales; in 2006 mid-term elections, war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina were the concerns; and now in this election, the weak national economy and job security concerns hang in the balance.
Mid-term elections are nothing short of a make or break deal. Held after two years, they make one-third of the 100 U.S. Senate seats contestable. Thirty-six of these seats have six-year tenure, starting from January 3, 2011 to January 3, 2017. The candidates contest for seats at the U.S. House of Representatives as well as some state and local seats on the Election Day. Although the Democrats hold majority of seats in the Congress, they are poised for a tough competition. The Republicans need 39 seats to win and regain control of the House. The Republicans have not only resurrected themselves successfully but there has been a sharp decline in Obama's public popularity. According to the Gallup polls, his ratings have fallen down from 70% to 44%. The reason for the loss of his popularity is that his policies have failed to create the kind of results it promised or what the people were anticipating. The ebb and rise of his fortunes is very much reminiscent of Regan’s era.
The storm began to gather when The Tea Party started making its voice heard strongly way back in 2009 in response to the numerous tax legislations by Bush and then the Obama administrations. They are providing the wind in the sail of the republicans. Consisting of small like-minded groups, the Tea Party is a new contender in the modern politics, but it has been around in shape of right-wing conservatives and libertarians. Right now, the Tea Party’s workings are operating as a major backlash against the liberals and the democrats and an added strength to the GOP. With the tendency of the frustrated middle-grounders tempted to hop onto the Tea Party bandwagon, even the democratic-friendly districts are divided in their opinion whether to continue supporting Obama or not. Still Obama is urging the voters to be prudent in terms of their choices. "Their [the Republicans] whole campaign strategy is amnesia," recounted President Obama. "And so you need to remember that this election is a choice between the policies that got us into this mess and the policies that are leading out of this mess," he further said. He still believes in the mantra that ‘he can’ but he has also learnt that enforcing change takes time and hard work, Obama opined in his latest appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
The Tea Party members were criticizing the Obama administration for its $787-billion stimulus passed in early 2009. The bailout of banks and automakers and huge government spending drew a major reaction from the Tea Party enthusiasts. The job security issue was another blow to Obama administration’s popularity, as in January 2009, 650,000 jobs were being shed per month by the economy. Alongside, the Tea Party members were also concerned with the high taxes and the increasing national debt and federal budget deficit. They felt that the government was drowning not them in debts but also their future generations due to its imprudent moves. Obama administration’s decision to withdraw the tax subsidies later this year further invited the Tea Party members’ and entrepreneurs’ ire, who called Obama ‘anti business’.
Although it was the federal bailouts and stimulus packages that triggered the Tea Party enthusiasts into action, they were too quick to dabble into other issues. The innovative social media tools like twitter, blogs and facebook helped them air their views and rally support. The issue of the Ground Zero Mosque was a proverbial storm in the tea. It showed not just the radical difference in the Liberals’ and the Democrats’ views but also the highly polarized face of the American nation. While an array of religious groups supported the project, the opponents included prominent Republicans like Mark Williams, chairman of the Tea Party Express, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, Congressman Peter King, besides many others. Even a Democrat like Harry Reid agreed to disagree on the issue with Obama.
There is no doubt that the weak national economy and job security concerns are making people desperate for a change, but its ironical how this election is going to be most expensive ever in history, with total expenditure around $4 Billion or so. The new Supreme Court ruling and the subsequent change in the campaign finance laws allowing politicians, corporations, and unions, and outside groups to pump in unlimited amounts of money on independent television ads don’t seem like prudent moves considering the direness of the times. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent on ad campaigns alone, which could have been better spent elsewhere. The campaign ads not only have a biting edge, but some of them are defamatory, defensive and personal tones. Be it the foreboding and somewhat threatening GOP ad ‘Repent or Perish’, the graphic anti-abortion ad, the cheeky ‘I am not a witch’ and ‘I didn’t go to Yale’ ad by Christine O'Donnell, the anti Rand Paul ‘Stomping on you. Stomping on Kentucky’ ad, etc.
Not only this but the candidates’ personal eccentricities and the skeletons stumbling out of their closets are adding more heat to the fire, and in many cases, they are hurting their own party’s cause. The head stomping incident at Rand Paul supporters’ rally in Kentucky, the renewed attention on Christine O'Donnell’s experimentation with witchcraft, her one night stand and views on sexuality, etc, are only a few examples of the pre-election fever turning into a phantasmagoria. Debates are no exception. Democrat Charlie Melancon and Republican Sen. David Vitter at their recent final debate in Louisiana continued to hit below the belt by reminding each other of their past ‘sins’, ‘lack of family values’ and prostitution charges.
With other issues aside, it would be the economy and the jobs issue will decide the Democrats’ fate ultimately. Overall, the picture looks favorable for Republicans; also, there is no doubt that the Republicans have undertaken a tour de’ force through the Tea Party enthusiasts, but one must remember that the test of tea is in hot waters. This goes for both the parties; so the election day would decide the fate of both.