By Brent Budowsky - 10/03/12 11:08 PM EDT
Here are important polling numbers:
1. The most popular political leaders in America are Bill and Hillary Clinton. Their approval rating of nearly 70 percent suggests a nation that is more center-left than conservative-right.
My thesis for the 2012 election has long been that the closer President Obama aligns himself with the Clintons, the stronger the president and Democrats will run in November. This is why I recently proposed that President Obama ask President Clinton, before the election, to be his leading ambassador to Congress after the election, to achieve major bipartisan agreements for deficit reduction and job creation.
This move could win for the president and Democrats in Congress a shared electoral mandate for governance and action to replace obstruction and gridlock.
The “odd man out” in this portrait of America in 2012 is the Republican Party of 2012. Republicans have moved far to the right of the tectonic plate of American politics, alienated the broad center of the nation, roused the progressive base of Democrats and created a GOP brand disaster with large swaths of voters, from seniors to Hispanics.
Many Republicans treat a widely liked president as an enemy to be destroyed. They are so intimidated by the right wing of their conservative base that they often refuse to defend even the Christianity and Americanism of the president. In their small-tent vision of politics, they even include other Republicans on their enemies list, calling them “Republicans in name only” because they favor bipartisan cooperation with Democrats (which most voters demand).
Voters observed a Republican primary season including far-out-of-touch front-runners such as Donald Trump, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. When Rick Perry tried to be humane about immigration, the ever-pandering Mitt Romney, who lags far behind Obama among Hispanic voters, played his own race card (sound familiar?) against Perry.
Jon Huntsman, the most electable Republican (whose days as a Republican are numbered) was vilified because he served as ambassador for a Democratic president many voters like but the dominant wing of Republicans loathe. Dick Lugar, the Republican senator-statesman with immense respect across the aisles, was vilified by the right and defeated in a primary.
Democrats defend Social Security and Medicare, liberal programs that have long enjoyed bipartisan support and are revered by seniors. Republicans wage ideological war against them.
Democrats battle for pay equity for women. Republicans oppose it. Republicans champion a Missouri Senate candidate who spoke of “legitimate rape” and says his opponent, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is “unladylike.” No wonder the Republican brand is a disaster with women.
The value of 401(k) plans has skyrocketed under President Obama after collapsing under his Republican predecessor. After scandals and bailouts that erupted under a Republican president, Democrats want fair regulation. Republicans do not. Democrats want lower bank fees and interest rates. Republicans say no.
Democrats battle for a farm bill after a devastating drought. Republicans obstruct it, waging an ideological crusade.
The president is succeeding in saving the auto industry. Republicans opposed him. Their nominee attacked him. Of course the president surges and the Republican brand tanks in states such as Ohio.
Voters worry about the threat of climate change. Republicans deny it. Voters want the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes. Republicans do not. Parents respect teachers. Republicans demean them. Democrats offer a jobs bill to rehire firefighters and police. Republicans fire them.
The election is far from decided, but:
Democrats are attuned to the tectonic plate of American politics in 2012. Rightist- dominated Republicans, who have offended too many voters on too many issues and demonized even moderates in their own party, are at war with it.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.