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.
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!