Dozens of millions of Americans wait breathlessly every spring for Opening Day of Major League Baseball; possibly dozens of millions more thirst for the kickoff of the National Football League (NFL) in September. For NFL fans, the long empty wait since the Super Bowl ends with NFL training camps in July.
The 2014 midterm elections are upon us; as usual, fewer people will vote than in presidential elections. Fewer voters have consequences.
Control of the United States Senate is at stake, with 33 seats up and with 10 to 12 of those in play by Republicans, who need only six more to wrest control from their Public Enemy No. 1, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). The House will undoubtedly stay Republican.
In most midterm elections, the president's popularity is important. His party usually loses midterm seats in Congress if his approval rating is lower that 50 percent.
Foreign policy: President Obama is suffering from George W. Bush and Harry Truman-like low approval ratings. Generally, about 40 percent approve and over 50 percent disapprove of the president's job performance; only 36 percent in a national poll approve of his foreign policy.
That would include his Libya fiasco, a mob-murdered Muammar Gaddafi, a total chaos of runaway jihadist militias; it would include timidity about Syria while 150,000 men, women and children died. It would include ignoring the Islamic threat in Syria and Iraq that Obama called the "junior varsity" in January. The "JV" rolled into Iraq with an army that had no one to fight because the Obama-trained and abandoned Iraqi army melted away, leaving American tanks, artillery, armored personnel carriers and tons of ammunition to the Islamist fanatics. Is the stench of genocide wafting in White House?
Both Obama and Vice President Biden bragged that Iraq was a great triumph and achievement of the Obama presidency. Iraq is a mess and American troops are streaming into Iraq, again. Is Reid ready to declare that the Iraq War is "lost" again when Bush won it?
Obama/former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "reset" relations with a ravenous Russian dictator and the world suffers. Russian soldiers are massing on the Ukraine border ready to invade it with impunity. Obama is impotent in Eastern Europe.
Hamas terrorists in Gaza have broken a cease-fire and fired rockets into Israel, again. The conflict has exposed rifts between what appears to be an anti-Israel White House/State Department and a Congress where Israel's friends greatly outnumber allies of the White House on this issue. Ditto the American people.
The Texas border with Mexico is erased by thousands of children from Central America coming across it. Obama seems powerless to deal with this border crisis.
Domestic policies: ObamaCare has drifted as a political issue in recent months, while it was red hot last year. It is returning as hundreds of thousands of "customers" are not qualified for subsidies because they aren't citizens/legal residents. Insurance companies are preparing an average of 7.5 percent 2015 premium increases. Audits are disproving the Obama claim that 8 million people signed up for ObamaCare. Television will be flooded with people telling horror stories about $10,000 deductibles. TV ads will pound on the fact that Obama wasted over $800 million on ObamaCare computer programs that didn't work.
Union members will be highlighted complaining that their bargained-for expensive "Cadillac" plans are being cut back because employers don't want to pay the 30 to 40 percent tax on these plans. "Cadillac" program taxes were projected to pay over $180 billion dollars of ObamaCare costs in 10 years. Since the trimming of these plans, projections now show that the "tax" will bring in less than half projected; that is, ObamaCare cannot pay for itself as Obama promised.
Poverty continues to reach modern record levels under Obama, as does food stamp usage. Real unemployment is over 12 percent. National income continues downward while the Obama administration brags that it has created 8 million jobs to replace those lost in the Great Recession of 2008. National income has dropped by over $2,000 a family. The employment participation rate continues downward as many people quit looking for work despite the fact that in July, 4.5 million jobs were unfilled.
In polls, better than two-to-one, Americans feel that the country is not going in the right direction.
It seems here that the Nov. 4 election results are baked in now and that little can change what looks to be a disaster for President Obama and his party. The American people are like a giant aircraft carrier making a turn in the ocean; the turn is slow because there is no way the population can change its collective or general will between now and Nov. 4 to deny a huge Republican victory.
Contreras formerly wrote for the New American News Service of The New York Times.