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Why Victory Is Never Permanent

The Washington Post reports:

Democratic political committees have seen a decline in their fundraising fortunes this year, a result of complacency among their rank-and-file donors and a de facto boycott by many of their wealthiest givers, who have been put off by the party’s harsh anti-business rhetoric.

The trend is a marked reversal from recent history, in which Democrats have erased the GOP’s long-standing fundraising advantage. In the first six months of 2009, Democratic campaign committees’ receipts have dropped in comparison to the same period two years earlier.

Meanwhile Republicans, who were declared comatose less than a year ago, are marching in the streets, flooding town-hall meetings, and raising money from donors determined to mount efforts to recapture the House and boost numbers in the Senate.

Once again we see the natural ebb and flow of politics. One party sweeps to power based on a wave of popular disgust. It over-interprets the election results as a green light to pull the country sharply in its direction. Drunk with power and riding high, ethical lapses are ignored, theories of a permanent majority are concocted, and the opposition is treated with contempt. But an agenda lacking popular support flounders. The backlash begins, the public senses that the politicians have gone too far, and the cries “teach them a lesson!” and “throw the bums out!” goes up. It could be 1994 or 2006 or 2010. After all, overreach and incompetent governance is not the sole province of either party.

Democrats in this case have added to this phenomenon by antagonizing their wealthy donors. Class welfare and tax hikes don’t apparently sell well in Manhattan and Beverly Hills. The report notes:

Other Democrats and their aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal party strategy, said that rhetoric toward big business has grown so antagonistic that it has become increasingly difficult to raise money on Wall Street, particularly after the controversy about bonuses and executive compensation.

We are a bit more than a month away from the first significant elections in the Obama era. The New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races will provide a clue as to just how strongly the political momentum has shifted. If one or both fall into the Republican column, you can expect to see the tide of panic rise as Democrats realize their “permanent” majority is no more permanent than was the Republicans’.


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