Investigative Journalism that is as
Radical as Reality Itself.

Why the Democrats Will Lose the House

by RALPH NADER

Will the Congressional Democrats recover the House of Representatives from the clutches of the cruelest, most corporately monetized, anti-people Republican Party since 1858? (http://www.dems.gov/blog/the-do-nothing-congress-a-record-of-extremism-and-partisanship) Amazingly, the answer, less than a week before the election, is no, according to veteran House Democrats, pollsters and the Washington D.C. punditry. In fact, that negative prediction has been consistent for at least 8 months.

Two more years of Reps. John Boehner, Eric Cantor and their gang blocking Barack Obama (if he gets elected), should he want to champion any significant legislation. Why can’t the Democrats landslide these Republicans as FDR, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson would surely have done?

The answers lie in the grotesque unmentioned ways that the incumbent Democrats have tied themselves up in knots that spell centralized paralysis. The following highlights how they have made themselves dysfunctional.

President Obama is running a “lone ranger” campaign instead of running with the Congressional Democrats as a team. Notice how he keeps saying, as he did during his nomination speech in Charlotte, North Carolina, “I want you to vote for me.” This separation has created more than a little resentment among Democrats on Capitol Hill. In my conversations with them, they compare Clinton’s propensity to campaign as President with his allies in Congress when he was in their Districts, with Obama’s aloofness. House Democrats are also upset at the White House’s refusal to direct some of their immense campaign cash to help hard-pressed Democrats in the House races.

So do the Democrats in Congress feel free to go it alone? Just the opposite. Before they open up new issues, new reforms and new fronts, they’ve decided to capitulate and wait for Obama to take the first visible step. Yet Obama, ever cautious and conflict-averse, does not make the first move.

Obama has his consultants, advisers and pollsters who say that he has to appeal to the five or ten percent of the right-of-center voters. He already has the liberals, progressives, unionists, and the minorities well in hand, because they have nowhere to go.

Given this tactical approach determining Obama’s daily orations and the political ads, including how they go after Romney/Ryan, there is no room for an inflation-adjusted minimum wage of $10 – which would still be less than it was in 1968! There is no room for a tough law and order campaign cracking down on corporate crime, fraud and Wall Street abuses. There is no room for a Wall Street speculation tax, a clear-eyed public works plan in every community, a list of to-be-abolished corporate welfare schemes, an end to corporate tax havens and tax escapes, or a fairer foreign trade policy or American workers.

As returning legislator, Alan Grayson is showing in his winning campaign against the Republicans and their super-PACs in central Florida, these can be vote-getting issues. But as I was told by many politicians backing Obama, that is neither his game plan nor his consultants! They simply do not think that they can get an even higher net voter turnout among their large non-voting base of lower-income workers with populist appeals. Thirty million low-income workers making under $10.50 an hour apparently do not have the extra voting turnout potential as do right-of-center undecided voters.

Of course, there are more factors involved. When I asked a top House Democrat what the real reason was for deep-sixing the minimum wage increase to catch up with 1968, he rubbed his thumb and two fingers together, and said, “They feel they’d raise less money if they did that.” Money, it seems, counts more than votes in this bizarre equation of the people with whom the party should stand.

So Cong. George Miller sits on his recently introduced bill to increase the minimum wage to $9.80 by 2014 because he is waiting for Obama. His House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi waits for Obama. So do the close campaigns of Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Chris Murphy in Massachusetts and Connecticut respectively, along with many close House races. (See www.timeforaraise.org for more information.)

When I spoke to other leading progressive Democrats to assert themselves, jurisdictional turf presented itself. No senior Democrat in the House runs first with any labor issues other than Cong. George Miller, from the progressive San Francisco area, no less. Nor do any other senior Democrats run first with any energy and environmental issues other than ranking Committee member, Cong. Ed Markey. Markey and his allies privately wring their hands over Obama’s silence on climate change during the President’s daily campaigns. But the word from all quarters of the Democratic Party is not to move if Obama doesn’t move. You would not want to show up the President’s inaction, would you?

Yet, the Democrats have their own interest in winning their own Congressional elections, whether or not Obama cares about them. Doesn’t seem to matter. Following Obama means they may follow him as a party over the cliffs of defeat while he rides to the top of the Hill. You see the vast majority of incumbent Democrats are in safe districts and their seats are secure. Retaking the majority in the House is another matter. Personal career complacency does not vigorously propel a party drive to win back the House, regardless of what Obama chooses to permit.

What do the House Democrats owe Obama anyhow? He raises no money for them. He campaigns without them, thereby depriving them of mass media coverage. Even the Congressional Black Caucus is replete with indignation at how Obama has dissed them and their poverty issues since day one of his presidency.

After Election Day, November 6, contemporary historians will write that the Congressional Democrats waited too long on Obama and wasted their chance to win back the House and gain more seats in the Senate.

This is the politics of presidential personalismo run riot – inexplicable precisely because it has become so suicidal to the Congressional Democrats and to justice for the people for whom they claim to speak.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

July 07, 2015
ANDRE VLTCHEK
In Ecuador, Fight for Mankind – In Greece – Fight for Greece!
Nile Bowie
Obama’s Pacific Trade Deal Trails Behind China’s Development Vision
Shamus Cooke
Unions Must Act Now to Survive Supreme Court Deathblow
Dave Lindorff
The Greek People Have Voted ‘No!’ to Austerity and Economic Blackmail
Mateo Pimentel
The Pope’s Letter: Neoliberalism and Fukushima
Raouf Halaby
Beware Those Who Speak With Forked Tongues
Ron Jacobs
The Grateful Dead: The Ship of the Sun Bids Farewell
Mel Gurtov
Keep It in the Ground, Obama
Colin Todhunter
The Warped World of the GMO Lobbyist
July 06, 2015
Steve Hendricks
Will FIFA’s World Cup Sexism Ever Die?
Binoy Kampmark
Oxi in Greece
Gareth Porter
How US Spin on Access to Iranian Sites has Distorted the Issue
Peter Bach
ISIL and Ramadan in the Rag
Paul Craig Roberts
A Rebuke to EU-Imposed Austerity
MICHAEL HUDSON
Greece Rejects the Troika
Quincy Saul
The View from Mount Olympus
Robert Hunziker
Looking Inside Fukushima Prefecture
ADRIENNE PINE, RICHARD JOHNSTON, FIONA WILMOT, et al.
Seven Reasons to Scrap the USA’s $1 Billion Aid Package to Central America
Norman Pollack
Capitalism’s Self-Revealing Practices
David Macaray
Could Justice Scalia Be the One to Rescue Labor?
Linn Washington Jr.
Storm Smashes Chris Christie’s Presidential Candidacy
Benjamin Willis
US and Cuba: What Remains to be Done?
Robert David Steele
he National Military Strategy: Dishonest Platitudes
Joan Roelofs
Whatever Happened to Eastern European Communism?
Weekend Edition
July 3-5, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Pentagon’s “2015 Strategy” For Ruling the World
Jason Hirthler
Going Off-Script in St. Petersburg
Rob Urie
Greece and Global Class War
DIMITRIS KONSTANTAKOPOULOS
The Future of Greece Without Illusions
David Rosen
White Skin Crisis
Jerry Lembcke
Nobody Spat on American GIs!
Stavros Mavroudeas
The Greek Referendum and the Tasks of the Left
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Ecuador Fights for Survival – Against its Elites
Andrew Levine
Dumping on Dixie Again
Richard Pithouse
Charleston (It’s Not Over)
Arun Gupta
What Does It Mean to Call Dylann Roof a “Terrorist”?
Michael Welton
The Tragedy of Harper’s Canada
Brendan McQuade
The Right Wing Resurgence and the Problem of Terrorism
Chris Floyd
Heritage and Hokum in Rebel Banner Row
Victor Rodriguez
Puerto Rico’s Economic and Fiscal Crisis: Made in the U.S.A.
John Feffer
ISIS and the Terrible Twos
Steve Breyman
Being David Brooks
John Halle
Four Thoughts on the Sanders Insurgency
Lawrence Davidson
Why Does Dylann Roof’s Kind Still Exist? 
Robert Fantina
Political Posturing in the United States
Binoy Kampmark
Austerity: Killing Greece (and the Idea of Europe)