News / USA

Volatile Political Climate Backdrop For US Elections

2010 has already proven to be a volatile political year in the United States.  Three sitting U.S. senators have been defeated in primary elections so far, and there are predictions of more upheaval to come when voters go the polls in congressional midterm elections in November.  

The latest political upset occurred in Alaska.  Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski was defeated by political newcomer Joe Miller in a primary election.  Miller had help from conservative Tea Party activists and from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Palin was the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008 and has emerged as a major political player this year as dozens of conservative candidates seek her endorsement.

Palin was also a featured speaker at a recent conservative rally in Washington organized by commentator Glenn Beck, and some Republicans are urging her to run for president in 2012. "We must not fundamentally transform America, as some would want, we must restore America and restore her honor," she said.

Earlier this year, Tea Party supporters helped to defeat veteran Senator Bob Bennett in the Republican nominating convention in Utah.  They have also played an important role in a number of congressional primaries around the country, forcing Republican office-holders to take note of the power of the energized and well-organized conservative activists.

Gerard Alexander is a political scientist at the University of Virginia and a recent guest on VOA's Encounter program. "The majority of Republican incumbents who have been challenged or overthrown in their own primaries has tended to be people who had committed sins, so to speak, by being too far to the center or the left rather than too far to the right," he said.

Alexander says Tea Party activists are having an impact on U.S. politics this year, even though experts do not classify the movement as a formal political party. "I don't even like using the term 'Tea Party' because it implies a very specifically organized group and force, and that is not really what that social movement appears to be.  It is more comparable, it seems to me, to phrases we have used from the past like the Feminist movement or the Civil Rights movement or other groups that are made up of tens or hundreds of thousands of individuals, many of whom are not centrally coordinated," he said.

Anger over the power of the federal government, congressional spending and the growing national debt are driving forces behind the Tea Party movement.  Tea Party supporters strongly oppose President Obama's economic stimulus plan and the health care reform law passed by Democrats in Congress, and those views have been on display in numerous Republican primary elections around the country.

Kevin Whitelaw is an editor with Congressional Quarterly Magazine and a guest on VOA's Issues in the News program. "It shows the depth of this anti-government message that the Tea Party has, and it also does show this reserve of anger about what the Obama administration and the Democrats have done," he said.

Republicans expect to benefit from the energy of conservative activists in the November midterm congressional elections.  A growing number of analysts now predict Republicans are within striking distance of winning back control of the House of Representatives, and have at least an outside chance of taking back the Senate.

The latest unemployment numbers released Friday did little to boost the hopes of Democrats.  The U.S. jobless rate rose slightly in August, even though private employers reported a modest increase in new jobs.

As he has before, President Obama urged Americans to have patience as they hope for an economic rebound. "There is no quick fix to the worst recession we have experienced since the Great Depression.  The hard truth is that it took years to create our current economic problems and it will take more time than any of us would like to repair the damage," he said.

The economic uncertainty has created a difficult political mood in the country for Democrats, says veteran political observer Tom DeFrank of the New York Daily News. "The American people are jittery about their lives, their futures, the future of their employment, their kid's jobs.  Nobody believes that the economy is coming back (right now).  It will come back but nowhere in time to help the Democrats in the November elections, that is for sure," he said.

In addition to Senators Murkowski and Bennett, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, a Democrat, was also defeated in a primary earlier this year.  

The midterm elections will be held on November 2.  All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are at stake, along with 37 of the 100 U.S. Senate seats and 37 state governorships.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs