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Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

Will Obama’s 2010 Message Resonate?

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I don’t think it will.

The Obama administration’s new message:

Republicans caused the nation’s economic troubles, but he and the Democrats are starting to fix them. So stick with the Democrats and don’t go back to the GOP.

On a factual level, the first sentence is absolutely true.  On a messaging level, the second will have a hard time resonating.

For activists such as myself, it won’t resonate because we know Obama and his team made the decision to take the easy road.  They didn’t want to fight with the Cons that drove us all into the metaphorical ditch Obama is talking about.  Heck, the Obama crew did everything they could to try to get the Cons to work the shift pedal while they worked the gas pedal.  Guess what happened?  The Cons kept their promise and didn’t work with the Dems.

To expand on Obama’s framing, the car has lurched all over the road, giving Americans whiplash and bruised limbs.  We voted for Democrats in 2008 because they said they would fight for us.  Backroom deals for industries has rendered signature legislation toothless and ineffectual.  And instead of fighting for us, the Dems have done everything they could to not fight with the Cons.

For Americans that aren’t activists and don’t follow policy developments closely, Obama’s message will have a hard time resonating because they simply haven’t seen many positive results of giving Democrats massive Congressional majorities and the White House – something that has happened every few decades.  Those Americans might not know the extent to which the stimulus was pared back or how little the Health Insurance Reform Giveaway will change their lives in the future.  All they see is, as week after week slides by, their lives aren’t changing for the better.  When you’re barely treading water, or in the process of drowning, “Stay Pat” doesn’t solve those problems.  You can’t tread for years; how possible is it to recover from drowning?

The worst part for Americans is the big projected Democratic losses will occur in the place where the best and most solutions have originated: the House.  It’s the Senate that’s broken.  It’s the White House that decided not to aggressively pursue policies.  Yet it could very well be the House members who take the brunt of the electorate’s frustration.  If there are fewer Democrats in 2011-2012, will the solutions we need be crafted?  One thing is for sure, it will be a lot harder to do so.  More importantly, if the Democrats don’t fix the broken Senate, it doesn’t matter how many Democrats lose their House seats.  More necessary legislation will continue to die in the upper chamber.


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