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2006 — An Election, not a Realignment

The last time I devoted an entire post to the 2006 elections, I suggested that the GOP would Hang on by the Skin of Its Teeth. Now, I’m wondering if the Democrats could nudge the GOP out of power. Fred Barnes, normally one of the most optimistic (about the GOP’s prospects) pundits, predicts that the Democrats will win 18 seats, enough to capture the House.

While I still hope (and believe) the GOP will hang out, it’s entirely possible that the Democrats could win just enough seats to garner a majority in the House for the first time in twelve years. And while I think the Democrats will make gains in the Senate, it seems increasingly likely that the GOP will hold that house, even if the Vice President has, once again, to cast the deciding vote for control.

Should the Democrats win, they — and the MSM — will of course spin this as a repudiation of President Bush and an affirmation of liberalism. That analysis will be based less on the actual election returns — and the dynamics of this year — than on their own wishful thinking. Outside of some very “blue” regions, Democrats this year have, by and large, eschewed ideology while many Democrats is tight races have moved to the center.

A Democratic majority with a number of freshmen Democrats from “red” districts looking forward to their first re-election in a presidential election year, are not likely to join a House Speaker from America’s most liberal city in pushing forward a left-wing anti-Bush agenda. These freshmen will join those centrist Democrats who have voted with the GOP on a number of controversial issues this session. Thus, given the dynamics of this election, while a Democratic majority would not be a good thing for President, it would not be the disaster some are forecasting.

Expect instead a Democratic majority at least as fractious as that voted out in 1994. Today’s Democrats lack the “philosophical glue” (such The Contract with America, the set of policy proposals which helped the GOP win that year) that held the GOP caucus together for the better part of its first year in power in forty years.

That said, given the extreme leftism of a number of potential committee chairs in a Democratic House, I’m supporting my party this year despite is failure to live up to the ideas which brought it to power just twelve years ago. It’s a choice between a Republican Party which sometimes gets things right — and a Democratic Party interested primarily in preventing the GOP from getting anything accomplished.

If people are dissatisfied with the GOP this year, it’s not because of the party’s conservatism, but of the party’s failure to hold true to the conservatism of Ronald Reagan whose basic ideas formed the backbone of The Contract with America. The GOP suffers this year not merely for losing sight of the philosophy which led Republicans to victory in 1980, 1984, 1988 and 1994, but also from the dynamics of 2006. Normally, in the sixth-year of a president’s Administration, his party suffers substantial losses in Congress, a phenomenon which pundits dub the “Six-Year Itch.”

In addition to this itch, the Foley scandal seems to have put a damper on GOP prospects. Up until the story broke, Republicans seemed to be surging in all polls. While they have rebounded a bit since the height of the scandal, we’re still not where we were a month ago.

There have been a number of elections American history which have shown a clear affirmation of one party’s platform — and a repudiation of the opposition’s. The “realigning” election of 1896 repudiated the populism of William Jennings Bryan and the anti-business attitude of his Democrats while affirming the conservative fiscal and monetary policies of Republican William McKinley.

Thirty-six years later in 1932, the American people seemed to repudiate those policies by overwhelmingly electing Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In 1980 and 1994, Americans repudiated the tax-and-spend liberalism of the Democrats and affirmed the fiscal conservativism and foreign policy of a GOP rejuvenated by the leadership of Ronald Reagan.

In each of those years, the victorious party (and at least in 1896 the losing party as well) ran on a well-defined platform of ideas and policy proposals. This year, neither party has made particularly clear where it stands on the issues. We know the Democrats oppose President Bush and the war in Iraq. We know that the GOP has distinguished itself from the Democrats’ plan to abandon Iraq with or without victory. But, by and large, both parties have left us in the dark on the overall direction they wish to take the country. (To be sure, there have been a number of exceptions in individual races.)

Even if the Democrats win this fall, all it will mean is more headaches for the Administration. It will not mean that America has shifted substantially to the left — or that the American people want a liberal governing philosophy. If anything, it will mean that the people are fed up with the current majority party’s absence of governing philosophy.

While I’m hoping for a Republican victory largely because the Democrats seem more interested in obstructing than in governing, I won’t despair should Americans vote the GOP out of power. Because they haven’t campaigned on any positive agenda, a Democratic victory will be more a product of the dynamics of 2006 than popular affirmation of liberalism. And the fractiousness of their caucus may well prevent them from doing much damage.

It is the very absence of forward-looking Democratic agenda that keeps the GOP in contention in a year where so much is working against them. Given the GOP’s failure to to hold true to its principles, its scandals and the “six-year-itch,” the Democrats should be shellacking the party in power, but right now, the best they can hope for is to nudge the GOP out. Not a very ringing endorsement of the party — or its priniciples.

– B. Daniel Blatt (GayPatriotWest@aol.com)

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14 Comments

  1. “Not a very ringing endorsement of the party — or its priniciples…”–as you imagine it and them to be, not as they are.

    Stay The Course!!

    Comment by sean — October 23, 2006 @ 10:39 pm - October 23, 2006

  2. No indeed, the true realignment will happen when citizens realize that neither establishment party (as currently constituted) has their best interests at heart, and they make different choices entirely. This could come about within the context of one of the two current establishment parties, but there’s no sign of that right now.

    Comment by kdogg36 — October 23, 2006 @ 10:45 pm - October 23, 2006

  3. Should the Democrats win, they — and the MSM — will of course spin this as a repudiation of President Bush and an affirmation of liberalism. That analysis will be based less on the actual election returns — and the dynamics of this year — than on their own wishful thinking. Outside of some very “blue” regions, Democrats this year have, by and large, eschewed ideology while many Democrats is tight races have moved to the center.

    If it happens it will certainly be a repudiation of President Bush. If it were not, then so many Republicans wouldn’t be doing so much work to distance themselves from the Administration. Those candidates running for office that criticize an incumbents affiliation with Bush are getting traction. -Regardless of what Party they are in.

    Lets talk about “affirmation of liberalism”. You are correct, an overturning in the house does not mean its an endorsement of liberalism. However, so what?

    When the GOP won the Congress and the White House, it certainly was not an affirmation of Conservatism. But that didn’t stop the leadership of the GOP sailing so far right they fell off the flat earth they apparently believe in. And the President has always acted as if he has a 100% mandate from the American Public for every thing he does. He even gets snippy if anyone proposes that maybe he doesn’t. And thats not confidence, it arrogance.

    As far as the House is concerned, I think we agree, but I would put it a bit differently. The number one reason the GOP is in such trouble right now is simple. They are so plainly, blatantly, ridiculously drunk with power. In fact they are exactly like a loud-mouth drunk that doesn’t realize what a fool he is making of himself in public. He’s about to get a major hangover.

    And the Democrats are no better. The difference however, is that if they win, we will have a divided government. There will return the natural check opposing Parties have on one another. The President, and Congress, Dem’s and GOP are going to have to compromise with each other. I expect loud immature squalling from both sides when this happens from all parties involved.

    Expect instead a Democratic majority at least as fractious as that voted out in 1994. Today’s Democrats lack the “philosophical glue” (such The Contract with America, the set of policy proposals which helped the GOP win that year) that held the GOP caucus together for the better part of its first year in power in forty years.

    It impossible not to notice that the GOP abandoned the principles of the Contract with America years ago. At least Democrats have no principles to abandon in the first place.

    Comment by Patrick (Gryph) — October 23, 2006 @ 11:12 pm - October 23, 2006

  4. If you are saying that a Democratic win would not be a repudiation of Bush YOU ARE FREAKING CRAZY!! The fact is that Republicans have a tremendous structrual advantage in the House of Representatives due to redistricting, if all states were drawn competetively like Iowa and Arizona, Republicans would likely lose 80-100 seats, but as we live in a country which practices little electoral democracy it will be much closer though I would guess that Democrats will win the House, come very close if not take over in the Senate, net about 6 more governerships, and probably several state houses and senates….and this is not a repudiation of Bush…please wake up! Geez, talk about a bunch of dead-enders and late-adopters.

    Comment by James — October 24, 2006 @ 12:43 am - October 24, 2006

  5. In fact they are exactly like a loud-mouth drunk that doesn’t realize what a fool he is making of himself in public.

    What, lile any of Teddy’s speeches?

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — October 24, 2006 @ 2:01 am - October 24, 2006

  6. The republicans have too many advantages and their foot soldiers are committed. They will win this election as democrat turnout will be very low…and republicans are just more organized….(I hope I am wrong)
    But that will allow the democrats to sweep the presidency, senate, and house in 2008….because the repubs will not be able to clean up the huge messes they have made over the last 8-12 years…

    Comment by keogh — October 24, 2006 @ 10:20 am - October 24, 2006

  7. keogh, in professional political campaign circles we call your comments “an attempt to lower expectations”. We also call it funny. You need to start doing stand-up dude.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — October 24, 2006 @ 12:27 pm - October 24, 2006

  8. #6-7: Where I come from, it’s called “cutting-and-pasting” by the cut-and-run crowd.

    Who did you steal this latest statement from, 401k?

    As far as the midterms go, Dick Morris just did a 180-degree turn. He is now calling the elections a toss-up that MAY favor the GOP.

    Also – check out Arnold’s double-digit lead over Phil Angelides in CA, the resurgence of the Corker and Allen senate races, the tightening of the Santorum, Talent and Burns races, and you’ve got a real horse race on your hands. I still stand by my GOP retention prediction.

    Considering the fact that I early-voted yesterday here in Houston, and judging from the red turnout in a very blue precinct, it looks as though the GOP will hang on, but barely.

    Also, Michelle Malkin has a great line from a RAT staffer who is not exactly chilling the champagne at this point. Worth a read:

    http://michellemalkin.com/archives/006187.htm

    Regards,
    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — October 24, 2006 @ 1:54 pm - October 24, 2006

  9. In fact they are exactly like a loud-mouth drunk that doesn’t realize what a fool he is making of himself in public.

    What, lile any of Teddy’s speeches?

    Yes, exactly like Teddy’s speeches. And thats the GOP’s problem.

    Comment by Patrick (Gryph) — October 24, 2006 @ 2:05 pm - October 24, 2006

  10. Geez two weeks out it now looks like Dems may win only RI ,PA and OH. Plus Republicans may win NJ and MD. A net gain of ONE in the Senate. Holy cow. My liberal friends are worried cos they know how skewed the polls usually are. Dissing republicans by 2 or 3%.I for one would like the dems to win the House. Two years of Nancy, John Conyers, Murtha ,Rangle, Dingbat, Jackson Lee running before the cameras will be so much fun. And W can veto any tax increases, cut and running from our committments, energyBTU taxes, etc.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — October 24, 2006 @ 10:05 pm - October 24, 2006

  11. #10: I think the Democrat is still ahead in Montana, and, as a Maryland resident, I’ll be shocked if Michael Steele wins at this point.

    But, I don’t really care about any of this, to be quite honest. I guess I’d rather see divided government, but in this election, like any other in my adult life, I don’t really expect the results to have much impact on my life (or my political goals) one way or another.

    Comment by kdogg36 — October 25, 2006 @ 10:34 am - October 25, 2006

  12. In some ways, kdogg, your second paragraph reflects the theme of this post. 🙂

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — October 25, 2006 @ 11:43 pm - October 25, 2006

  13. #12: Indeed. 🙂

    Comment by kdogg36 — October 26, 2006 @ 2:29 pm - October 26, 2006

  14. […] 2006 — An Election, not a Realignment (October 23, 2006) […]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » Posts* Where We Criticized GOP on Spending in Bush Era — April 17, 2009 @ 12:45 pm - April 17, 2009

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