How Some Fresh Blood Can Fix Obama's Problems
The midterm elections have taught us that without some new faces, Barack Obama can't deliver the change he promised.
Watching the midterm elections last week was like eating dog food. Having to listen to newly elected congressman Rand Paul declare, "There are no rich, there are no middle class, there are no poor," made me want to throw up all over my health-insurance bills. Florida's Marco Rubio stole all of President Barack Obama's youthful swagger and perfectly calibrated charisma but failed to mention how his agenda would benefit the Haitians in Florida as much as his beloved Cuban-American exiles. Rep. John Boehner's (R-Ohio) victory tears took me over the edge. To borrow a line from my kick-ass agent: That man would rather eat his arm than enforce regulation of the industries that have brought this country to its knees.
By now we've done our weeping and read the postmortems. I loved the coverage in ColorLines, including this interview with Jeff Chang, and found the article in the New York Times that I nicknamed "Those Who Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail" enlightening. Both pieces corroborate what I've found to be a general consensus among many in generations X and Y: Democrats, in this administration in particular, need to be more proactive about bringing fresh blood into the fold.
Conservatives arguably have been on top of "winning the future" since Goldwater -- founding think tanks that plan 30 and 40 years out, strategically reframing issues like campaign finance reform to sound like relics from a bygone era and making sure their people are in position no matter how old or young, experienced or not. The latest truism of Republican pragmatism is "the purpose of the minority is to become the majority." Which is what conservatives did so well this time around. They seeded and groomed. Passed the torch. Hit the refresh button. Pulled out losers and replaced them with “might winners.” They rewrote the party.
I've tried for years to understand why it is so hard for Dems to follow suit. Do progressive boomers have mortality issues, or are they unable to imagine what a seeded, progressive version of the Tea Party might look like? Whatever the case, while Democratic leadership had conference calls with Obama, the other parties were out picking their choices for homecoming: women of color, good-looking moderates and young, conservative up-and-comers. Sure, some of them weren't qualified. Sure, one of them had dabbled in witchcraft, but you know what? All is fair in love and war. John McCain stepped aside for a woman named Sarah Palin. That wasn't just politics; it was brinksmanship.