2014 political predictions

Published 10:16 am Friday, January 3, 2014

Once upon a time running for Congress in America was about citizens wanting to be hired by their fellow citizens to go to Washington and do good things for their community. Former House Speaker Tip O’Neill once now famously said “All politics are local.” But things change and O’Neill’s statement no longer rings true.

2014 will expand the engulfing and continuing trend that sending someone to Washington is no longer local at all. Because of the money infused in the political world and the fractured media sweep of political views, federal elections are national events catered to by compatible media.

They are often funded by interests outside the state or district, and the consequences are clear: those elected reflect the views of those who got them elected, not so much the citizens.

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So if you are feeling out of touch with the views of your Congresswoman, or finding others elected to seem extreme, welcome to the world of politics in 2014, where it is often a “buyer’s market”, and the buyers do not represent you.

All that means that when we talk about political trends in 2014 we can expect the views of those who will be elected to conform to the views of those already elected representing collections of fixed political views. Said more succinctly, if you fire them just come back with different names.

So what will the Democrats do in 2014? Most likely follow the well-established tradition of losing seats in the House and the Senate as the majority party usually does in off-year elections.

Will they lose the Senate majority to the Republicans? That may actually be determined by the Republicans.

Democrats will, for the most part, not run from this president or his signature law, the Affordable Care Act. First, they will stay near Obama because, while his popularity is down, he remains the most trusted politician in Washington.

That is not much to be proud of in a poisoned environment, but it still matters.

Second, Democrats won’t run from the ACA for two reasons. One, they own it win, lose, or draw, and disclaiming it will not work with the public. Second, they don’t really want to run from it. It is beginning to work and sign up millions of happy folks.

But the Democrats would be wise to talk about minimum wage increases, unemployment compensation funding, jobs training and economic development.

They should introduce legislation that punishes corporations for hiding taxable income offshore, and propose penalties for taking jobs offshore that will result in imports back into the U.S.

Republicans can capture the Senate, but probably will not do so because the internal battle between Republicans and their Tea Party friends is barely underway. Tea Party candidates are offering challenges to many traditional Republicans including House Speaker Boehner, and they may win a number of those challenges.

But winning a primary is not winning an election. William Buckley, a past conservative voice, once said he supported the most conservative candidate who was electable. The Tea Party seems not so enamored by electability, so they may well insure the Democrats hold the Senate by the infighting coming this fall.

For their part, Republicans should talk about the benefits of expanding trade agreements; they should introduce financial incentives for American companies to open their cash vaults and expand their American businesses and employment; and they should name specific regulations that make sense to undo to improve the business climate.

Republicans today think they will campaign on Obamacare, but that seems a doubtful strategy as there is little more to be said and only time will provide the answers. And at any costs Republicans should avoid the divisive social issues that paint them often as intolerant.

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Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.