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Kevin Buck: The game-changer for Democrats

Posted: March 25, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 25, 2014 2:00 a.m.

The Democratic Party had a horrendous mid-term election cycle in 2010.

The tea party was created in 2009 by the billionaire Koch brothers, through their PAC, Americans for Prosperity, to rally sentiment against the health care overhaul proposed by the new Obama administration.

The Astroturf roots of the movement soon morphed into real grassroots protests as thousands of aging conservative baby boomers finally got an organized dissent they could take part in.

They had missed out on the 1960s anti-war protests and free love movement, but now they had a cause to call their own, rebelling against the expansion of health care to millions of poor and uninsured American citizens.

The raucous Republican town hall meetings, millions of dollars from conservative billionaires and the right wing media empire spread disinformation, fear and loathing throughout the Republican base.

This led to a wave election in the House, state legislatures and governor mansions sweeping Republicans into power.

The decennial census and subsequent Republican gerrymandering of political districts make regaining the House majority a difficult, but not impossible, goal for Democrats in 2014.

The 2012 election saw the House remain in Republican hands, but Democrats won the popular vote by more than one million ballots, so there is hope if the base turns out.

The Democratic base is motivated to vote in presidential elections.

Democrats have won the popular vote for president in five of the last six national elections, so the votes are there, but they just do not show up in the same numbers in mid-term elections.

This is not an insurmountable obstacle. It can and must be changed.

On the other hand, the Republican base can be counted upon to vote in large numbers in all elections. The GOP political machine has done an excellent job of creating an endless series of political straw men to scare their voters to the polls on Election Day.

Socialists and communists have been a mainstay of the Republican fear machine since FDR and the Cold War. Then came the Vietnam War protesters and 1960’s liberalism unleashed in the form of long-haired hippies.

Civil rights for women, immigrants, gays and lesbians have had a long run in the history of conservative fear-mongering, and the social changes of the ‘60s and ‘70s were used to drive the Christian-base voters to the polls to save America and apple pie from the liberal agenda.

All very effective, but the Soviet Union collapsed, the hippies grew up and women, gays and lesbians turned out to be just regular people.

The old terrors were just not moving the fear needle as much, so a new boogie man was needed. So the Affordable Care Act became Obamacare.

The ACA was easy to demonize in 2010 and 2012: The law was complex, had yet to be implemented and it gave the brand-new tea party an issue to loudly protest.

And it turned out the Republican base. The electoral game plan remains the same for the 2014 elections; Republicans will still run on the repeal of the ACA. But much has changed in the ensuing years.

The ACA is an entrenched federal law, despite more than 50 vain attempts by the Republican House majority to repeal it.

It has been tested in the courts and found constitutional by the Supreme Court. A national election was held in 2012 with repeal of the law as a key issue, and Mitt Romney lost in a landslide.

But most important of all, the law has finally been implemented and millions of Americans now have access to quality, low-cost insurance and health care for the first time in their lives.

Republicans have no plan to replace the ACA because the ACA was their plan from 1993 until the Obama administration and the Democrats made it a reality.

Republicans have proven they cannot repeal the law, so all they can do in 2014 is continue to spread the same fears, lies and disinformation about the law and hope to scare their base to the polls one more time.

Mid-term elections are base elections. Republicans are very good at motivating their base to vote.
Democrats not so much.

That has to change in November. If the Democratic base votes, Democrats win. It’s as simple as that, and the truth is the game-changer.

Kevin Buck is a Santa Clarita resident. “Democratic Voices” runs Tuesdays in The Signal and rotates aqmong several SCV Democrats.



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