In a recent column, we discussed the sad state of the Republican Party.
Today’s Republicans lack original ideas and a positive agenda. The leading tea party politicians — such as Sarah Palin, Jim DeMint and Michele Bachmann — don’t seem to like to do the work of staying in office.
Despite more than a decade of war, Republicans keep trying to get us into more wars. They like to restrict individual freedoms, except for any restraints on buying guns. And Republicans want businesses to be able to do just about whatever they want to do.
Now let’s turn our attention to the sorry state of the Democratic Party.
During the eight years of the George W. Bush presidency, Democrats, including President Barack Obama, publicly deplored the excesses of enforcement of the Patriot Act and the loss of civil liberties stemming from the “war on terror.” It turns out Democrats have continued most of these infringements and added to them.
Under the direction of the Obama administration, as was also done by the previous Bush administration, the National Security Agency has been given access by secret court authorization to the phone records (but not call content) of millions of Americans. Under the Obama administration, reporters and their sources no longer can be assured of their privacy.
The Obama administration has gone to almost unprecedented lengths to investigate the sources of leaks. A major leak, which resulted in providing CIA information to the producers of the film “Zero Dark Thirty,” was apparently announced at an event by then-Pentagon chief Leon Panetta. Oops.
Democrats have failed to realize the extent of citizens’ fear that government has gotten out of hand, that technology is undermining our privacy and that we want a full-blown examination of what our government is doing and why.
The White House and many Democrats were way too slow in realizing the deep concern of Americans that the Internal Revenue Service may have targeted political groups in trying to enforce the law that only social welfare groups get tax-exempt status. And Democrats have been far too slow in understanding that Americans’ loss of faith in institutions in general is highly damaging to democracy.
Democrats have few, if any, exciting new faces on the national horizon — and few statesmen. If the Republican Party seems moribund, the Democrats seem exhausted and whiny. The two leading presidential prospects for 2016 are Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. It’s even possible we could have another Clinton-Bush race.
While Obama came in as an inspirational figure who gave Americans a sense of hope and change, even he seems worn out. He seems unable to make peace or even schmooze with Republicans or get much done in his second term.
He’s been analyzed as too distant, too hands-off, too cerebral, too content with surrounding himself with loyalists and even too family oriented. And that’s coming from fellow Democrats. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., who has served longer in Congress than anyone else in U.S. history and worked with 11 presidents, told NBC’s Chuck Todd that Obama’s Rolodex is too small. (Dingell still concludes Obama is a good man and a good president.)
Part of the Democrats’ trouble stems from our national fatigue. We’re tired of the economic turmoil, the realization that millions who lost their jobs will never get well-paying jobs again, the endless series of natural disasters and the failure of Congress to do anything but quarrel.
And part of the Democrats’ pitiful plight is that Obama is a mere mortal. He’s the other half, present in our lives daily, of some of the most intense partisanship in our nation’s history. On one side are the Republicans (badly divided themselves) and on the other is Obama; their constant state of warfare has disgusted us.
Both parties need to rethink their beliefs, priorities, insecurities, strategies, hypocrisy and outreach. Otherwise, we’ll just stop paying attention.
Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.