Last week’s election results were historic. John Boehner’s teary-eyed victory speech was very appropriate because he had just observed a modern day miracle. Boehner lives in the world of political reality. He is not a wimp. He is rough and tumble, professional politician. Nonetheless, his heart was moved by the surprising change in the nation’s political cycle. The 60 seat congressional swing in favor of the GOP, along with 17 state legislatures changing from Democratic to Republican, has definitely been a loud statement of displeasure by the American people. Just as surely as the nation voted to give President Obama a chance to bring change in 2008, the midterm vote clearly repudiated both the priorities and tactics of the administration.
Yes, the vote was salted with impatience. Yes, the administration could have communicated a little better. Yet, truly great communication starts with empathy and listening. The greatest question in the post election season is, “Do Washington insiders of either party truly hear what the people are saying?” I see signs of both parties misreading the message that the electorate is sending. Unfortunately in this article I only have time to address the Democratic Party’s foibles.
Basic human nature tends to push all of us to interpret our problems through “faithful” paradigms that have helped us in past seasons of life. It is a rare leader that can see major changes coming and proceed with a combination of boldness and restraint which is necessary to seize unique new opportunities. It is safe to say that the key Democratic Party leaders have not yet adjusted their concepts to actually understand the current moment. For example, Harry Reid seemed to deny that his political career was on the line just a few weeks ago. The fact of the matter is that if a more savvy, national politician had been running against him; they would have knocked him out in the first round.
Similarly, Nancy Pelosi sees no problem in volunteering to lead her party again in Congress. Astute observers believe that she single handedly squandered the party’s opportunities these last two years with heavy handed, manipulative leadership. The scary thought to most moderate Democrats is that her tactics and strategies actually seem reasonable to her as she looks back. As minority leader in congress she would undoubtedly dig an even bigger hole for the party in 2012.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.