Political parties seem committed to a race to the political edge of the canyon. In the 2006, 2008 and 2010 general elections, both parties headed down political tracks only to learn gravity is more powerful than rhetoric.
From 2008 to 2010, at a time when the economy was sinking to modern historic lows, Democrats in Congress focused on health care and financial reform. Outside the beltway, the American people were more concerned about jobs and personal financial security. Even while licking their wounds from the general election drubbing, Democratic Party strategists continued to talk on TV this weekend about the party’s public policy success.
On other networks, Republicans were enjoying their time in the political sun. They talked about voter mandates. In an interview on CBS, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY) discussed his party’s plans for the new Congress. He said key congressional issues would include tax cuts, repeal or changes to health care reform, reduced federal spending and addressing long-term debt.
McConnell used the words jobs and stimulate (the economy) once.
Nationally, unemployment hovers just under 10 percent while Oregon’s unemployment rate remains above 10 percent. And these percentages actually understate Oregon’s problem with jobs. A CFM statewide survey found people in one out of every three households either have lost their job or had work hours reduced due to the economic recession.
Economic problems are personal. We all know friends and family who have lost jobs and can’t find work.
It appears the GOP is busily laying down tracks parallel to their Democratic opponents. Headed in a wrong direction from public concerns and perhaps to the same political abyss Democrats found in 2010.
Until political leaders start focusing on the issues that matter to the people (remember it's the economy, stupid), expect two things:
- Confidence in government will continue to sag; and
- Voters will be receptive to changing representatives until someone gets it right.