Cantankerous left-wing Sen. Bernie Sanders is predicting the Democrats could be “wiped out” in the 2022 elections.
To avoid that, President Joe Biden and the Democratic-controlled Congress must “think big,” said the Vermont independent, who has twice sought the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination without success.
“Given all that we face, now is not the time to think small. It is time to think big, very big,” said Biden, according to a tweet by Francesca Chambers, White House correspondent for the McClatchy News Service.
“With Joe Biden as president and Democrats controlling the House and Senate for the first time since 2010, we will be judged on what we deliver for the American people in their time of need. The people want action, not excuses,” Sanders argued.
He continued, “And let me be very clear. I have zero doubt that unless we significantly improve the lives of the American people this year, Democrats will get wiped out in the 2022 midterm elections. That is what happened when Democrats had the House, the Senate, and the presidency under Bill Clinton in 1994 and that is what happened under Barack Obama in 2010.”
“Politicians and media focus a great deal on drama, personality, and conflict. That’s how they define politics. That is not my view,” Sanders concluded. “Politics is nothing more complicated than delivering policy that positively impacts the lives of working families.”
But Sanders may be misreading the historical tea leaves.
In 1994, Republicans seized control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years. Democrats eventually regained total dominance in 2006, only to lose the House four years later.
Republicans in 1994 rode Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” to new majorities in Congress.
GOP candidates across the country ran almost uniformly on promises to balance the federal budget, cut taxes, reform welfare, give the president line-item veto power and block the federal government, led by Hillary Clinton, from taking over the healthcare industry.
In other words, voters demanded less government, not more.
That was something even then-President Bill Clinton recognized. When the New York Times asked Clinton what message he got from voters through the GOP’s sweep, he replied, “We don’t think the government can solve all the problems, and we don’t want the Democrats telling us from Washington that they know what is right about everything.”
In 2010, Democrats got “shellacked,” as then-President Barack Obama famously put it. Republicans won 63 seats in the House, nine more than they took in the historic 1994 election and the party’s best showing in 70 years.
Analyzing the outcome, CBS News reported that voters were “disillusioned with Democratic policy prescriptions for the most pressing political problems.” “Nowhere,” CBS added, “is this dissatisfaction more strongly felt than with Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy.”
To recap that moment, during his first two years, Obama, aided by congressional Democrats, muscled through the government’s near-takeover of the American healthcare system through Obamacare and worsened the national debt with trillions in new spending for stimulus programs, bailouts, and subsidies for dubious favored programs.
Those first two years put Obama on a path to oversee the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression, and made him the only two-term president never to achieve GDP growth of 3 percent or more for at least one year.
As The Guardian, a liberal British newspaper, noted of the 2010 election, the GOP’s House victory “was a remarkable comeback from two years ago, when many experts expected the party to endure a long time in the political wilderness in the wake of Obama’s emphatic 2008 presidential election victory.”
Sanders could be right.
Democrats might get “wiped out” next year. But history shows that will likely happen if they strive to do too much, not too little.