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 Editor in chief: 
Abdus Sattar Ghazali

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December 10, 2014

Mid-term elections:
The republicans now control both houses of congress
Senate composition is 54 republicans, 48 democrats

By Arthur Scott

So what pappened to Democrats? It was their election to lose and they lost it.

First, Latinos failed to come out in large measure because Obama waffled on immigration reform, especially the Dream Act. Postponing action until after mid-term elections were over was a tactical mistake costing a lot of Latino votes. Their turnout fell from 44% in 2012 to 28% in 2014. Now, both McConnell and Boehner see the President’s Executive Action in favor of immigrants “as poisoning the well” which is ironic in light of their consistent obstructionism. (Cf., Zoltan L. Hajnal, White Backlash, Immigration, Race and American Politics.  Both McConnell and Boehner come from states still dominated by big oil/coal and impacted by globalization and dispersal of manufacturing. (Cf.,

Similarly the youth vote fell dramatically because the President didn’t press Congress for tuition relief for College/Universities.  Many graduates end up with enormous debts ($50-100k) making life after graduation extremely onerous.  Elizabeth Warren was the only major democratic advocate here.  Millennial turn-out fell from 23% in 2012 to 11% in 2014.  This is a major issue in California where despite student opposition to 5% tuition increase and Governor Jerry Brown’s backing, it was nevertheless approved by the University Of California Board Of Trustees (V

Income inequality was another critical issue. Surprising in terms of a rebounding economy in which oil prices and health costs have plummeted, but it’s a rebound that benefits primarily the 1 per centers. Stock market profits are off the charts. The 99%, however, find their income stagnant for the last ten years. Wages remain flat with no real increases, except for tokenism in minimum wage. Part of the problem being that job growth is primarily in the services.  Much of what used to beour manufacture industry has been shipped overseas. Since Reaganomics and “trickle down” the economy has fizzled for the 99%.

Strategically the Obama administration never indicted key Wall Street/Banking/Corporate/Insurance leaders for the economic debacle of 2008 thereby creating the notion that white collar crime pays; for no matter what they do, they are never held accountable. At most, the 1 per centers get a slap on the wrist. This failure to bring those responsible for the economic collapse has angered many Americans turning many away from Obama whose Attorney General followed the precept that “some institutions are just too big to fail” and that prosecuting key corporate leaders could jeopardize the American/world economy.

The Democrats, too, gleefully threw Obama and by extension themselves under the bus by never getting behind Obamacare and its tremendous benefits for millions of working class American; nor about winding down the war in the Middle East, or re-structuring the economy through a host of clean energy alternatives despite the best efforts of Big Oil’s propaganda machine to downplay its seriousness through a systematic attack on the science of climate change. Democrats because of their lack of fight and loyalty abandoned their leader and ended up in a political disaster much like what happened in 2000 when Gore abandoned Clinton and lost the election to Bush.

The biggest issue was the low turn-out.  Apathy ruled in 2014.  Only 36.4% of eligible voters voted in this year's midterm elections, down from 40.9% who voted in 2010, according to preliminary analysis by Michael McDonald at the University of Florida.  It had the lowest turnout since 1942.  The voting pattern was: 75% white, 25% non-white, older voters(65+) made up 26% of vote, up17% since 2012;millennials only 12% down from 19% in 2012. Such a low turnout can hardly be construed as a Republican mandate. (Cf., By not voting Americans get a minority government that really doesn’t  represent them but rather the interest of corporate/plutocratic America falling far short of the idealism captured in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address of the central value “of government, by and for the people.”

Race certainly played a role in all of this. Obama, our first Black President, has generated resistance from a wide variety of quarters. For instance, whites overwhelmingly see immigration as a threat to their political and economic well-being and recognize that the face of America and its power distribution is changing—represented by Obama. Pew projects that by 2050, whites will be a minority at 47%, whereas Hispanic will constitute 29 %.( Cf., Muslim Americans at 72%, on the other hand, are largest Obama supporters. (Cf.,The Contra Costa Times News | November 22, 2014 | Robert A. Rees).  Unfortunately, this data only givesmore stridency to the Fox News mantra that Obama is a closeted Muslim or soft on terrorist reinforcing the bias “that although all Muslims are not terrorist; all terrorist are Muslims.”

Though Republicans won at the polls, their victory is at best a minority victory and what is even more paradoxical is that their national agenda differs drastically from most Americans. The People's agenda for Congress includes lower student loans (80%), infrastructure modernization (75%), raising minimum wage (65%), fighting Ebola (60%), climate change (59%) and Keystone Pipeline (54%). Mitch McConnell and John Boehner however want to repeal Obamacare, pass Asian Trans- Pacific Partnership trade agreement, lower corporate taxes, challenge Obama on immigration and reign in EPA. (Cf., NBC-WSJ-Poll-Reveals-American-s-Priorities-Guess-How-they-Match-With-GOP-Lawmakers-Priorities? detail=email).

The mid-term election will in all probability, despite Republican control of both Houses of Congress, lead to more acrimony and gridlock in which the “people’s business” will be ignored with each party jockeying for the 2016 Presidential election. The issue confronting the Republicans is can they win the White House with their big business/corporate and anti-civil rights agenda as embodied by their stridency against Obamacare, immigration and women’s rights. Similarly, the Democrats are confronted by the need to campaign at the grass roots around jobs and income/racial equality, and concomitantly be a strong advocate for climate change innovation and revitalization of the American infra –structure.

Above all else, Americansneed to understand that Washington politics touches the lives of each and every one in the whole country, regardless of race, religion, gender, education or status.  When the people don’t vote, the elected may not be looking out for the needs and welfare of the many. Just as America needs a new President in 2016 who can re-energize the country, end the ruinous partisanship, and offer an inclusive vision of national unity and socio-economic justice for everyone, we desperately need an active, responsive and involved citizenry. Only in this way can the country realize its highest dreams of serving the needs of humanity and equality.  We are all in this together and if everybody pulls their weight, we might just be able to do more for the rest of the world.  If we, as nation, continue to refuse to engage in a better vision of the future, then we will live that William Faulkner line – “A man is the sum of his misfortunes.”

 Arthur Kane Scott is Professor of Humanities and Cultural Studies at the Dominican University of California and Fellow of American Institute of International Studies.