As the woman who would be Speaker should the Democrats win a majority in Congress remains virtually invisible, the New York Times reports (via Best of the Web) that “Democrats have turned to conservative and moderate candidates who fit the profiles of their districts more closely than the profile of the national party.”
Indeed, some of these candidates “have views on issues like gun control and abortion that are far out of step with the prevailing views of the Democrats who control the party. On some issues, they may even be expected to side with Republicans and the Bush White House.”
Should enough of these candidates prevail next week, the Democrats will indeed recapture the House of Representatives. And while that would certainly be a defeat for the GOP, it would not be a defeat of conservatism — nor necessarily a victory for liberalism. Despite winning its majority on conservative ideas in 1994, in the most recent Congress, the GOP has hardly governed as a conservative party.
At the same time, as Republicans have moved away from the small-government ideas which have defined our party at least since Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980, “a new CNN poll finds most Americans still agree with the bedrock conservative premise that, as the Gipper put it, ‘government is not the answer to our problems — government is the problem.’” (Via Instapundit).
Given that “54 percent of the 1,013 adults polled said they thought [government] was trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses,” it seems the the GOP might be in a stronger position to retain control of Congress had congressional Republicans promoted more policies to reduce the size and scope of the federal government.
That a number of Democrats are running on conservative ideas — and that the GOP has, in large measure, run from such ideas at least in terms of domestic policy — a Democratic victory next week, as I’ve said before, will hardly represent a realignment. Instead, it will show that more than a quarter-century after the Gipper’s election, his ideas continue to appeal to the American people.
And maybe a GOP loss (or a narrow victory) will convince Republicans to return to the ideas which have so helped our candidates in the past.
UPDATE: In a great piece in the Wall Street Journal, with a theme similar to that of this post, Michael Barone, perhaps the shrewdest analyst of the American political landscape writes, “ideas are more important than partisan vote counts..” He doesn’t “know what the results of the midterm elections of 2006 will be. But I doubt that they will have the sweeping partisan or policy consequences of the midterm elections of 1874 and 1894, or 1938 and 1994.” Now that I’ve whet your appetite, as with anything by Barone, just read the whole thing.
UP-UPDATE: Looking at the same articles, Captain Ed finds that this “shows the success of the Reagan message, and once again underscores the profound impact he had on American politics” and observes that if:
the Republicans find themselves in trouble at the midterms, it may come in reaction to the extent that they have failed to grasp the Reagan message. The smaller-government message will still win elections, but the question may be for whom it wins those contests when the GOP fails to tend to its Reagan legacy.
Read the whole thing!