Lets face it, the economy is as bad as it gets. Obviously, things could get worse, but are not likely to, at least according to most economists. Clearly, for individuals a long-term economic slowdown is worse than a short-term one. But the stats, as they are calculated by economists will probably remain the same: slow-to-no growth, 9-15% unemployment, low consumer spending, high corporate profits; the last explaining why things wont regress further. Maybe, if the (Un-)Happiness Index was included in the calculations, the reality of a bad economy would become apparent to the numbnuts in Washington and the blabber-heads of the mainstream media (MSM), but I wont hold my breath.
The question is - how long can it stay bad? most likely, we will still be in the pits come the 2012 elections, the main reason being that the stalemate in Washington making it impossible for any meaningful debate to occur, let alone implement rational economic policy to alleviate the suffering of Americans.
As long as Obama is in office, the Republicans will do everything in their power to undermine him. Some because they are plain vanilla racists, but the majority simply want to bring down the Democratic presidency by any means possible. Despite a vivid imagination, they have failed to convince the public that President Obama has skeletons in his closet, so the battle will be waged on our backs (if only he had a sordid affair with an aide, perhaps a jobs bill could be tagged onto the impeachment bill).
On the flip side, the Democrats in general, and Obama's administration in particular, have largely failed to deliver on, or at least fight for, progressive principles. (my apologies to the Progressive Caucus). Obviously, the pressure from the right is extraordinary, that can't be denied, and to be fair - we progressives - haven't pushed back, at least not enough.
The MSM doesn't help. From Fox to MSNBC, only rightwing blather is reported and commented on, whether with deference or disrespect. Thus, the little push back from the Left, like The Progressive Caucus' People's Budget, civil action against the tar sand pipeline, or immigration protestors, etc., get little media attention, and are definitely not mentioned on Sunday morning talk shows.
This loud eco chamber for the Right coupled with sound-attenuating smothering of the Left resonates in Washington, suggesting to the Democratic 2012 election campaigns that, as always, we will vote for them because the alternative is worse.
Well, it's not.
1. The Obama administration can't get anything done, and it's not likely to win overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate this time around - leading to another four years of stalemate.
2. A Republican administration, like it or not, will have to tackle the short-term economic malady of the recession. Even their friends on Wall Street agree that long term unemployment is bad for business. They will call it different names, maybe investing in infrastructure ("Building for America"!), or investing in the future - who cares.
3. A strong Democratic opposition is more likely to be united against major changes to the social safety net that will kill social security, medicare, and medicaid.
So yes, there are other risks. Supreme court nominees that will further curtail women's reproductive rights; reinstatement of restrictions on the civil rights of gays and lesbians; legislating further limitations on unions; or making the lives of undocumented workers even more miserable. Hopefully, they wont start another war. But these may happen anyway and depending on majorities in the Houses, Obama may not be able to veto some of the more egregious proposals.
Conversely, there's a benefit. Perhaps by losing these elections the Democrats will learn to listen to their base, and I'm happy to be called a crazy extremist, and wear a hippy clothes with peace signs and flowers, if that's what it takes.