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GOP’s Failure to Hold True to Conservative Principles Cost Party Its Majorities

As I consider the election returns, I’m beginning to wonder if certain things which we Republicans saw to be beneficial to our prospects turning out to be detrimental. Many thought that John Kerry’s gaffe would remind voters of the contempt some on the Left feel for the military. In the end, I don’t think it really helped our candidates.

Indeed, it may even have hurt Republicans who tired to make an issue of it as it may have caused wavering voters to wonder why a candidate in 2006 would focus on a silly statement by the defeated presidential candidate from the previous election. And may have caused such voters to wonder about that Republican’s failure to run on his own record.

Perhaps, it was that Republicans thought they could win this election merely by running against the Democrats’ extremism. The only problem was that the Democrats nominated some pretty centrist & conservative candidates in a number of races.

Perusing the conservative blogs today, I find a pretty clear consensus that the GOP lost not because, in the words of Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, “voters have abandoned their belief in limited government,” but because “the Republican Party has abandoned them.

When people saw Republicans running against Democrats, it reminded them that they weren’t running on any issues of their own. No wonder some polls showed a number of self-identified conservatives pulled the lever for Democratic candidates in some House and Senate races. One poll showed that more people thought the Democrats could better reduce the deficit and “keep government spending under control” (Via Best of the Web.)

I had thought the Democrats’ absence of an agenda might have prevented them from gaining a majority. But, it turns out that it was the GOP’s failure to hold true to its own principles that was of greater consequence to voters.

It is thus of some comfort that the candidates for GOP leadership in the 110th Congress have made clear their support of those conservative principles which helped our party win significant victories in the 1980s and 1990s.

UPDATE: A reader e-mailed this excellent piece on the Republicans defeat from Eject! Eject! Eject!. Here he gets at the essence of the GOP loss:

We have to accept the fact that the conservatives we sent to Congress in 1994 became the bloated, earmarking, tone-deaf toads of 2006. They thought they could do whatever they wanted, regardless of what their constituents think, and now they have been reminded of just who is working for whom. Remedying that sense of isolation and disconnect and unchecked power is why we have elections in the first place, and as to the consequences of it, we have no one to blame but ourselves. That imperial attitude is not unique to Republicans or Democrats. That is human nature, and correcting the excesses of human nature only becomes more costly and painful the longer it is allowed to go on. Democracy is error-correcting. Ask John Kerry.

He says something to his critics which I share with ours: “To those who have written me in anger over the years, I say sincere congratulations to you on a big win, and I genuinely hope it will remove some of the bitterness in your hearts and restore some belief in a system that was never broken.” Now that I’ve whet your appetite, read the whole thing!

Gay Marriage Ban Headed to Defeat in Arizona

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 11:55 am - November 8, 2006.
Filed under: 2006 Elections,Gay Marriage

It appears that the ban on same-sex marriage may fall short in one of the states where it was on the ballot yesterday. The latest returns show the ban in Arizona is trailing, with 48.6 voting in favor and “51.4 percent . . . voting against” Proposition 107, the “Protect Marriage Initiative.”

Referenda defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman passed across the country, including Wisconsin, a state where, I thought, it could be defeated. The proposal in Arizona was particularly pernicious, not only so defining marriage, but also barring “state and local governments from giving legal status to unmarried couples.” So extreme was this provision that it even would have barred universities and school districts from recognizing domestic partnerships. It’s my sense that it was that aspect of the initiative which sunk the proposal in the Grand Canyon State.

Simply put, the authors of the referendum overreached. As a result, Arizona beccame the first state to reject a ban on gay marriage in a popular referendum.

I don’t think this apparent victory means that opinion has shifted in favor of gay marriage. Instead, it suggests that there is a growing consensus in favor of civil unions, some kind of recognition of same-sex couples.

No wonder Jodi Rell, the Republican governor of Connecticut, who signed such a provision into law last year, handily won reelection last night.

(H/t: Instapundit.)

Wednesday Morning Quarterbacking

I’m writing this Tuesday night. I’m headed to bed soon, but not out of disgust or anything. I have an early morning tomorrow and will post it then after the excitement has died off and so I don’t interrupt Dan’s live blogging any more than I already have.

As of now, it’s about 10pm Mountain Time and the Dems have just taken over (as we’d expected they would) the House. We still have 4 seats to defend in the Senate. Senate Update: Whoey…glad I didn’t stay up…

There are two ways the next two years could go:

1) The Democrats will do what we warned they’d do: Raise taxes, expand the size/scope of the Federal Government, redistribute wealth, yadda yadda (all the things that convinced America to take the keys from them in 1994). This will kill their chances of making any sort of showing in ’08. And oh, so easy to run nationally against Nancy Pelosi. Or, more likely:

2) Knowing the disaster it would be to follow 1) above, the Democrats will govern the same way they have campaigned over this election: Stealth. This would be easy for them as they’ll not really be “in charge” and won’t have to really take responsibility for anything. Sure, they’ll do some obstructing, and possibly a few things to hurt. But most likely they’ll be more of a pain-in-the-ass than a real impediment to accomplishment.


Thoughts (before turning in) on the Democrats’ Victory

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 3:46 am - November 8, 2006.
Filed under: 2006 Elections

As I prepare to head to bed, I do so with a certain sadness.* I had thought the GOP would hold onto the Senate, but it looks like the Democrats ran the table on the close races. I think in the end, you had a standard 6th year election, yet had Republicans held onto their principles, they could have minimized the damage and limited their losses.

One thing which had not entered into my somewhat optimistic forecast on Monday was something that one of the panelists on Fox pointed out — that in the past year, four Republican Congressmen resigned, two of them (Foley and Ney) within the past six weeks. (Interestingly, Ney’s seat was the only House seat Republicans lost in Ohio, so the “Taft curse” only extended to statewide races.) People felt that congressional Republicans had become too smug in their power.

I think perhaps the Foley scandal slowed any Republican momentum. Had he been the only Republican Congressman to resign, it might not have registered on people’s minds, but his resignation followed that of Duke Cunningham and the former Majority Leader, Tom DeLay.

And the Democrats did a great job of recruiting candidates, many of whom ran on conservative platforms. So, it’s not all bleak for our ideas. While the House leadership will be left-of-counter, the House Democratic caucus will be more conservative than its current makeup, something which may put a check on the excesses we might otherwise expect.

It’s a good night for the Democrats. They did a great job in tapping voter discontent with a complacent GOP majority which has lost its moorings. Now that they have won an impressive victory, they have before them the more difficult task of governing. And they may well succeed.

The silver lining in this all is that at least it proves wrong some Democrats’ claims that President Bush is a fascist. For a fascist leader would have prevented the opposition from winning such a victory.

And another silver lining is remembering that the tension in 1995-99 between a Republican Congress and a Democratic president produced a consensus domestic policy with a number of notable reforms. Perhaps now with a Democratic Congress and a Republican president, we may see similar progress.

One can only hope.

* I guess I have some sense how Democrats felt two years ago.

Log Cabin attributes GOP loss to Social Conservatives; I disagree

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 12:19 am - November 8, 2006.
Filed under: 2006 Elections,Log Cabin Republicans

Just go an e-mail press release from Log Cabin where Executive Vice President Patrick Sammon blames the GOP loss on social conservatives:

Republicans lost this election because independent voters abandoned the GOP. . . . Social conservatives drove the GOP’s agenda the last several years. Their divisive agenda alienated the mainstream Republicans and independents who determined this election’s outcome. Social conservatives should take responsibility for this loss.

I disagree.

I do agree though with the better part of this statement:

Democrats didn’t win because of anything they stood for. They won because of Republican mistakes. GOP leaders lost sight of what brought our Party to power in 1994. Limited government, lower spending, high ethical standards and accountability, and other unifying GOP principles attracted a broad coalition of support including fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, mainstream Republicans, libertarians, and independents. Now we’ve lost the U.S. House because Party leaders turned their backs on the GOP’s core principles and catered only to social conservatives.

It wasn’t so much catering to social conservatives as it was catering to K Street. The GOP got too accustomed to being the party in power and sought to stay in power by ladling out the pork.

Twelve years ago, the Republicans ended forty years of minority status in the U.S. House by campaigning on a series of conservative principles, drawn largely from the vision of Ronald Reagan. But, by 2006, they weren’t running on much beyond holding onto power.

No, Log Cabin has it only half-right. The GOP didn’t merely cater to social conservatives. By 2006, congressional Republicans, by and large, no longer stood for much of anything besides clinging to power. And they lost that tonight.