Democrats’ malaise

Democrats seem to be suffering from a Jimmy Carter-style “malaise.”

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) rationalizes, “We have an electorate that doesn’t always pay that much attention to what’s going on, so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what’s happening.” (Reminiscent of candidate Barack Obama in 2008: “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”)

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In the Live Free or Die state of New Hampshire, Vice President Joe Biden urged Democrats to “remind our base constituency to stop whining and get out there and look at the alternatives.” And to make sure the folks felt truly inspired: “And so those who don’t get — didn’t get everything they wanted, it’s time to just buck up here.”

Based on Biden’s history of off-message gaffes, one might conclude he had, yet again, wandered off the reservation. In fact, the vice president was articulating precisely the negative, blame-everyone-else attitude of his boss. President Obama used his appearance at the University of Wisconsin this week to chastise young voters for the dwindling fortunes of Democrats, saying, “We can’t let this country fall backwards because the rest of us didn’t care enough to fight.” 

Wow! Those types of histrionics should go a long way to close that much-touted 20 percent “enthusiasm gap.” Way to fire up the troops! Blame them and browbeat them into heading to the polls out of guilt. Brilliant!

President Reagan’s circumstances in his first midterm election mirrored Obama’s: high unemployment, an anemic economy and abysmal job approval polling numbers. Reagan, like Obama, credited his predecessor for saddling him with a poor economic landscape. But that’s where the similarities end. Unlike President Obama, President Reagan was upbeat and positive because, to his core, he believed his policies were spot-on. He was able to clear a path to recovery with solutions that made sense to average Americans — cutting taxes and non-defense spending, shrinking the federal government and getting government out of the way of American ingenuity and wealth-creation. And Reagan wore his love of country on his sleeve.

Historically, midterms can be brutal for the party of the White House incumbent. But the 1982 midterms were not catastrophic for Reagan and the Republicans, netting only a 26-seat loss in the House and holding their numbers in the Senate.

President Obama has virtually no basis for a positive, upbeat message. Congress is adjourning without extending the Bush tax cuts, voters are apoplectic at federal spending (71 percent, according to a poll sponsored by the nonpartisan group Public Notice) and Obama’s marquee issue, ObamaCare, is wildly unpopular, as evidenced by the RealClearPolitics polling average of nearly 52 percent opposing it and a tepid 39.5 percent in support.

So buck up! Stop whining! Because if the Democrat base doesn’t turn out on Election Day, then all we have are those uniformed, bitter, anti-immigrant, anti-trade, racist voters clinging to their guns and religion.

Jacobus, president of Capitol Strategies PR, has managed congressional campaigns, worked on Capitol Hill and is an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. She appears on CNN, MSNBC and FOX News as a GOP strategist.