‘Change’ Elections in Turbulent Times

Liz Sidoti
Real Clear Politics

Change. Change. Change.

A demand for change propelled Democrats to power in Congress in 2006, and then put Barack Obama in the White House two years later. Either the change wasn’t what a restive public wanted or it didn’t come fast enough. Now voters are looking toward a Republican change.

“2008 wasn’t the end goal. It was to keep building a movement for change,” Obama said near the finish of a turbulent campaign, pleading for a surly electorate to give his Democrats more time to put in place their version of change.

He’s counting on voters still seeing Democrats as change agents even though they are in power — and liking the type of change he and his party have delivered in his first two years.

Huge assumptions.

Yes, Obama and his Democrats stabilized the economy. But their solution was to pump huge sums of money into it as people fretted about all the government borrowing and federal debt burden stacked on their children and grandchildren. The unemployment rate rose; it’s stuck near 10 percent. Foreclosures and bankruptcies continued.

Yes, they passed a health care overhaul to remake a patchwork and costly system. But the public was divided over it and cringed at how the White House and Democrats pushed it through Congress. Deals with special interests. Virtually no Republican support. Why now? asked people crying out for jobs and losing their homes.

Yes, they reined in Wall Street with new rules for big financial institutions whose instability is blamed for the recession. But Main Street still feels left out, ignoring tax cuts they got under Obama and focusing on bailouts that went to banks, an insurance company and automakers. People questioned whether government was getting too intrusive.

Bipartisanship and compromise? A different approach to governing? A more civil Washington? Not so much.

Says Obama: “Delivering change isn’t easy.”

Certainly, Republicans who opposed Obama and his Democrats at every turn bear some responsibility. But Democrats are the party in power and, therefore, likely to carry more of the blame come Tuesday.

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