The calls for Obama to move even further to the center given the new Republican House and the shrunken majority in the Democratic Senate have already begun. But Robert Reich argues that this would be a mistake. See here and here. The traditional wisdom is that Clinton won reelection by moving to the center, but Reich argues that Clinton won because the economy recovered. Reich maintains, however, that the economy will not recover in time for the next election.
Republicans will try to pin that on him as they did in this election. Obama could not win this argument by moving to Republican ground. According to Reich, “Obama’s best hope of reelection will be to reframe the debate, making the central issue the power of big businesses and Wall Street to gain economic advantage at the expense of the rest of us. This is the Democratic playing field, and it’s more relevant today than at any time since the 1930s.”
Reich’s contention makes a lot of sense to me. Although the unpopularity of health care and the debt played a role, the Democrats lost this election because of the economy and because of their inability to turn out significant parts of their base. (The percentage of the young as a portion of the electorate dropped from 18% in 2008 to 11% in 2010, see here). One question I have concerns the practicality of Reich’s suggestion. Democrats need to raise money to get elected and business has the bulk of the money. If Democrats govern in accord with their professed beliefs, how do they get the money to get reelected?