Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Self-Inflicted Wounds Bleed Republicans

In the end it came down to sins of comission, not omission, that cost the republicans the House and perhaps the Senate. The GOP lawmakers were held accountable for supporting the administration's unsuccessful war of choice in Iraq, and they were hammered for losing the moral high ground in scandal after scandal. It's fair to say that the republicans lost rather than saying that the democrats won. But practically speaking, it doesn't matter. The president will now dance to a compromise tune or he won't dance at all.

The election also identified some key trends in social issues.
  • Gay marriages were soundly rejected in (almost) every state where it was on the ballot. Gay couples will continue to have only a few states where they can count on civil protections equal to heterosexuals.
  • The federal minimum wage will be raised. Every state that voted on it, including the red states, chose to increase their state minimum wage. Republicans were smacked on this one.
  • The evangelicals lost ground on abortion and stem cell research. South Dakota did not ban abortion, Missouri OK'd stem cell research, and Santorum got slaughtered in Pennsylvania.
  • Arizona went for an official language - look for many more intiatives and statutes on this issue, most of which will pass.

The republican party should give John Kerry its "Motivator of the Campaign" award. He fanned the fury that was only smoldering in many of the red congressional districts, likely costing several democrats their chance to move to DC. The democrats should require Kerry to wear a dunce cap in the senate chambers. (Likewise, the democrats need to fete Rush Limbaugh for his important last minute assistance in Missouri.)

Will the democrat win result in an onslaught of liberal initiatives in congress? I think not. Nancy Pelosi will go centrist in order to keep her flock together. By forcing the administration to either accept compromise legislation it doesn't like or make unpopular vetoes, she will begin the differentiation process needed to hold the congress in 2008.

Meanwhile, the democrats will sit back and let President Bush simmer in his Iraq stew. They have no incentive to grab the reins on this one, since every new death or tactical setback takes another ounce of flesh off the Commander in Chief. Rummy is history, though, and soon. It's unlikely he will stomach explaining his actions to a new congressional committee every week.

As an "old-time moderate republican", I'm pretty happy with the outcome. Like Bush One, I oppose wars aimed at regime change. I believe two-party rule will curb the outrageous spending that threatens America's long-term viability. Threats to personal freedom will be curbed because the "religious right" lost some key battles. Moderates will take center stage for 2008, and I can live with any of those who have a brain, a little charisma, and the toughness to take on the crucial issues facing our country.

5 comments:

Dave said...

I think one of the big problems the new Democrat majority in the House will face is figuring out what the "collective they" want to do.

As you note, many of the new representatives are moderate. They face, in some ways the reverse of the situation the Republicans had in 1994. Then, the freshmen were more conservative that their leaders. Now the freshment will be led by Conyers, Rangel and Pelosi. The result may be that not much of anything gets done.

The exception may be on immigration. The new Democrat majority in the House, and maybe in the Senate will be joined by Senate Republicans and President Bush to do more than talk about a wall.

Dave said...

I think one of the big problems the new Democrat majority in the House will face is figuring out what the "collective they" want to do.

As you note, many of the new representatives are moderate. They face, in some ways the reverse of the situation the Republicans had in 1994. Then, the freshmen were more conservative that their leaders. Now the freshment will be led by Conyers, Rangel and Pelosi. The result may be that not much of anything gets done.

The exception may be on immigration. The new Democrat majority in the House, and maybe in the Senate will be joined by Senate Republicans and President Bush to do more than talk about a wall.

Dave said...

Sorry about printing that twice.

Life Hiker said...

I'm much more optimistic about the next two years. Bush needs to leave a legacy other than a failed war. The democrats need to convince the nation that they are not a bunch of wild-eyed socialists. Maybe there's room to hope that our leaders will act like grown-ups for a change.

Ron said...

I agree with you that the Democrats will likely tread lightly over the next two years, treating this two-year session like a desperately looked for job interview for the 2008 elections.