"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Eninstein
"Forever in debt to your priceless advice." -- Kurt Cobain
It's hangover day. Democratic politicians and pundits are waking up, feeling a familiar soreness in their head, slowly and methodically sitting up in their beds, letting their feet drop to the floor, working the aching muscles of their mouths then opening their eyes to see a bleary political landscape that yesterday, they owned.
It's all advice and analysis this morning and most of it is debate about whether Obama should move to the center or not. Most of the people giving that advice are part of the professional pundit industry that is made up of Washington insiders; former administration officials, failed politicians and the same crappy journalists that Jon Stewart held a rally against.
Most of the people giving advice -- including many of voices you're reading right here on the Huffington Post -- aren't just too close to accurately see the problem that caused Obama's slide in the polls and dismal midterms; they ARE the problem.
Candidate Obama's constant message was about rejecting the smallness of the politics that keeps up from solving our country's problems. This isn't a 'center' message because that implies it lies somewhere between the establishment Democrats and the establishment Republicans. This was an off-axis message, that was rejecting the corrupting influence on lobby money by both parties.
The appeal of Barack Ovama wasn't that he'd mindlessly 'reach across the aisle' with the Republicans but that as a relative political newcomer that he'd actually call the Democrats on their shit, too. The message of Hope and Change was about hoping he'd change the lobbyist, revolving door culture of Washington and lead.
This is where Obama has failed dismally and brought the Democratic party down with him. He stood by and let the Democratic party act in a greedy, dismal way. I don't know what's in Obama's soul and whether he meant what he said in the election and sold out to the establishment or whether he never meant what he said in the first place, but the results are obvious now and have been predictable for months -- huge election losses.
Both Stewart's massive audience at the Rally To Restore Sanity and Obama's '08 election show that people desperately want an alternative to our sponsored political system. Obama still has a chance to be that alternative but to do so, he's going to need to ignore the legions of political experts that litter the road between our two major political parties.
This will require some leadership that the President hasn't shown any hint of so far. He needs to be seen on the front lines for the people, not his party. Democratic politicians like Max Baucus should be called out as the lobbyist sell-outs that they are, not lauded as great leaders. He needs to lead and lay out modern, common sense positions on issues like gay rights, drug policy and fighting terrorism. He needs to stop being beholden to failed military and foreign policy ideas. And on the crucial issue of the economy he needs to make the case for creating the infrastructure that business needs in order to succeed -- including real health care reform -- and creating a regulatory framework that's actually efficient enough to protect the market.
If President Obama keeps playing by the Democratic and Republican playbooks, he's lost. Their political positions were forged in the Cold War, before personal computers and the internet changed the face of the economy and communications. If the President won't step into his new world, then someone else needs to.
That's the appeal of the Tea Party to many people; they seem like something new from outside the D.C. establishment. (No, the appeal isn't racism. There are plenty of lifelong Democrats who are racists.) The problem is that the Tea Party doesn't have real solutions, just some microwaved Ayn Rand.
This is no time for blind Democratic Party loyalty. The election was lost because of independent voters abandoning Obama and appeals to party loyalty don't mean a thing to them. If you don't want to see a repeat of last night two years from now, it's time to start working for something more than just the lesser of two evils.
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