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.