January 8th, 2010
12:01 PM ET

We're losing power, sir!

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Here is Tom’s Rule of Political Power in DC these days: As soon as either party gets power, it starts losing it. The corollary: The bigger the power, the faster and steeper the decline.

So it should come as no surprise to anyone that the Democrats are expected to be in sharp retreat as we steam toward the super-heated elections this fall, in which the Dems are widely predicted to lose seats in both the House and Senate. Think about where the Dem Party was a year ago. They controlled the House and the Senate, and had just enjoyed the Cinderella-rise of a largely unknown player to the highest seat in the land. Barack Obama took the oath a year ago this month amid public adoration, and overarching expectations.

And that is the problem. As campaign promises and the hopes of voters have crashed down on the rocks of reality, faith in the power of “change” has been severely tested. While voters were angry enough at Republicans to kick them out, many Democratic strategists overlooked how much of that fervor was also aimed purely at incumbents. “Throw the bums out,” is not a party-specific sentiment, nor does it come with an expiration date.

Last summer, a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll asked if the country would be better off with one party or the other running Congress. Democrats scored an easy ten point lead. But a new poll asking the same question last month found the parties now running even.

Republican critics like to say this is the fruit of the Democrats’ spending spree; that the president and his party have fueled a Godzilla-like deficit to consume the nation’s economic future. Democratic defenders like to say this is the backwash of a failed economy that was set up under the Republicans, and Dems should not be blamed if it takes awhile to fix it.

They are both right. But the real force at work is that rule of politics with which we started. As long as frustration with incumbents continues to be the driving force in American politics, when you get power, you also better get ready…to start losing it.

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Filed under: Raw Politics • Tom Foreman
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Kelly

    The Republicans blaming the Democrats fueling the Godzilla-like deficit is to be expected, but that deficit started while the Republicans were in power and they want to blame one man, George W. Where were they while it was all going down? No one has actually taken responsibility for that YET. George W. didn't even....can't blame him that it happened on "his watch". Republicans like to blame that one man and his administration, but they were part of his government in power.

    The two parties need to work together without always doing the blame game. It is all about power...looking toward 2012. The political system is failing Americans. Politicians have become too powerful in the sense that they are so busy worrying about their next vote they have forgotten why and who they are there for..the people. The people who need healthcare reform, the people who are losing their homes, the people who need a strong voice of reason.

    It has become a joke..and really bad joke.

    January 8, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
  2. Erica

    I understand it is probably overwhelming for any incumbent with all the issues facing us, extended military fighting terrorism and also keeping track of terrorists on our soil.

    But we need a good of people who can brainstorm in terms of legislation and ideas to turn the economy around and put people to work. The old guards that have made poor decisions and caused this mess knows what is coming. I guess they just want to get out with their pensions and what they gained. Looking for incumbent energy and focus and strong ideas.

    January 8, 2010 at 1:11 pm |
  3. Mo Latno

    Democrats Spending spree??? What about all that unpaid for Medicaire prescription program, 2 wars, and the Bush tax cuts?? None of which were paid for....even Republican hero Orin Hatch R Utah said it was "common practice not to pay for things back" then... Now that was a spending spree. Seems like the elephant in the room has a VERY short memory.

    January 8, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
  4. Tim Gibson

    There is a crisis in Washington, a result of the to big to fail mentality and the mad rush to pass bills, increase spending to cover the loss of consumer spending, and in appearance it looks as if government is now feeding on itself, unwilling to work together beyond the game prize awards if you pick the right door.

    All adding to the old story line of the lottery winner who lost it all.

    January 8, 2010 at 12:13 pm |