The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


December 29, 2012

2012 Is the Year Democrats Got Their Groove Back//



During the presidential campaign, the fate of the Affordable Care Act under a potential Romney administration remained in doubt. Now "Obamacare" paves the way for universal health care coverage -- a key tenet of Democratic philosophy for more than half a century.

Yes, it appears to be the dawning of a Democratic age -- a shift from the dominance of neoconservative ideology that has dominated American political thought since the Reagan era.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's declaration that his No. 1 priority was to make Obama a one-term president fell on deaf ears. Increasingly, younger, browner voters are choosing the Democratic message: Women's reproductive rights are not negotiable; minority rights are not debatable.

So what's next for the Democratic Party? Although long-term demographic shifts clearly favor Democrats, the Republican establishment maintains its regional dominance in the Deep South and parts of the Midwest. Strategic attacks on organized labor in Wisconsin and Michigan -- America's industrial heartland -- prove that the GOP remains emboldened.

Dismantling workers' rights empowers corporate tycoons, takes bargaining power away from the working and middle classes and undermines an egalitarian society -- making the American dream an elusive dream indeed. But this strategy also has electoral implications. As membership decreases, unions become financially strained -- less able to promote their message or support progressive candidates.

And it doesn't stop there. The GOP's efforts to systematically disenfranchise African-American and Hispanic voters through new voter-ID laws may have been thwarted by Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department in 2012, but some Republicans are now scheming to change the Electoral College setup in several states ahead of the 2016 contest.

One battle is over, but the war continues.

And Democrats, though excited about the possibility of a resilient Hillary Clinton or a popular Joe Biden continuing Obama's legacy, must face the hard truth that both of those candidates are older, wealthy and white. Just as Republicans must change with the times, so must Democrats.

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