Nov 03 2010
Or the morning after headache (3:00 AM is such a long road to travel).
I, for one, did not wake up feeling enough was accomplished yesterday. Yes, the GOP won a lot of seats. lost no major ones, retired a lot of Democrats – many senior ones. But in the end, the Tea Party fell way too short and failed Main Street at the national and state level. I do not blame the Tea Party candidates, many of whom are just what we need right now – imperfect citizens storming the ramparts of the Political Industrial Complex. Sadly, that Political Industrial Complex is pretty strong if it motivate people to vote to continue down the same wrong path in the highest unemployment states like California and Nevada.
I think California is the biggest head-scratcher out there. They voted against two accomplished business women and instead went with two proven bad politicians. Of course the people there have been running that state into the ground for a decade now, so I guess expecting them to change course would be too much to ask. I mean who else destroys whole farming communities to save a silly little fish and sees nothing wrong with government? California has now put the accelerator down towards their fiscal cliff (lean forward folks, this is going to be a doozy). Their taxes will continue to rise, forcing more businesses and talented people to leave. Who would even consider immigrating there with all that debt and dysfunction? Unless you are from south of the border. So sad. But as someone tweeted last night (I think it was Ace of Spades) they are on their own. No bail outs from the rest of the country after this result.
Update: In CA not a single incumbent has yet to lose – that is what I mean about zombie voting. That place is best avoided.
2nd Update: Was lamenting to LJStrata about her one-time home state and she pretty much nailed it. It was a choice between “The New Hotness” from Ebay and HP or “Old ‘n Busted” Brown and Boxer. If there is no greater sign that California’s golden days are behind it, it was the choice for “Old ‘n Busted” yesterday. – end update.
And let’s get to the nut of it – Gallup was way wrong. Something is not right with their likely voter model. Same thing with that Field Poll which came out and predicted a huge GOP wave. I put a lot of weight on their results being close – and they were not. For some strange reason Gallup (and others) over estimated the force of the GOP wave.
In all fairness, something probably happened on the larger scale to halt the wave. Either people stayed home who said they were voting. Or the Dem GOTV is way superior than the GOP version. Or the GOP has to do something about the urban areas (the places where many of these states were lost). The GOP cannot just be a countrified, suburban and rural centered party. They need to break into the population centers, which helped the Dems hold on in CA and NV, etc.
Now for the headache part of the assessment:
(1) Obamacare will not be stopped for another two years. Our premiums and copays are going to rise – unless you have the political clout to win exceptions as many companies are doing for God knows what price. Most of us will lose our health care in order to go into government approved plans. And businesses will spend a lot of money complying with idiotic, one-size fits all health care mandates out of DC instead of hiring and expanding. Seniors will see their services cut back, and a lot more doctors will be opting out of Medicare/Medicaid since they don’t pay to cover costs.
(2) The massive Obama, Reid & Pelosi deficits will continue for another two years. The only way to even begin to chip away at them is for taxes to go up, since the economy will not rebound enough to increase revenues. While the Dems hold the senate there will be too much compromising on the libertarian side of the ledger. Tax hikes and wasted spending will continue, as we fall further into debt.
(3) The Federal bureaucracy will not shrink, but grow. There will be no course correction – we don’t hold enough seats. The EPA may be stopped from controlling nature’s most basic gas (CO2) threw investigations coming out of the House. But this investigative approach requires a deft hand. It requires an appreciation of science and math to expose the flaws in the global warming propaganda. The Dept of Ed will not be shrunk and re-focused. Nothing major will happen with regard to the major problem of bloated government.
I can go on and on about opportunities lost, wrong paths still being traveled.
And I have to say the Tea Party and Sarah Palin have really hurt their credibility in many ways. You cannot just pick candidates because they spout platitudes – they need to be accomplished individuals. For this I will compare the best and the worst of the Tea Party senate candidates: Joe Miller in Alaska and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware. I came to like O’Donnell, never could admire her or see her as a leader. She just seems to float in life, pretending to have accomplished great things (and this comes from someone who could never lay claim to anything great outside our family – which is awesome if you ask me). Joe Miller, decorated veteran, lawyer, etc is a very accomplished person. I expect him to win in the end, when all the dust settles.
The choice of O’Donnell had ramifications across the board. Her foibles began to spill over on Angle, Fiorina, Whitman and McMahon. I feel so sorry for all these extremely accomplished individuals, because to lump them in with O’Donnell is unfair – but that is how politics work. After O’Donnell’s win something caused the electorate to hold back and recall the GOP’s high negatives from 2006 and 2008. I think O’Donnell’s win and questionable bona fides helped create that hesitation that stopped the wave.
While the Tea Party did have a lot of successes, their failures were of equal import. There is a reason Rubio, Toomey and Johnson did well and Buck, Angle and O’Donnell struggled. I still support Angle and Buck and wished their Main Street imperfections were more asset than liability in the eyes of the voters. And Fiorina and Whitman had no such problems – that state is just zombie voting apparently. Whatever the case, much more scrutiny on potential candidates is required going forward, and we need to watch out for someone who can take a whole group down by association.
And a much broader appeal is required too. Lots of hyper-partisans look to closed primaries and other ways to control the purity of their candidates. I think this is a death sentence. As I said before, the GOP needs to broaden out and penetrate the urban areas, while holding the suburbs. They will never get candidates with broader (yes, more centrist) balance if they keep their primaries closed to only the pure ideologues.
At some point centrists will be embraced again. We saw the potential of what could happen for a party if they moderated their hyper-partisan wings and allowed centrists an equal voice. And that means not shouting each other down and questioning motives when the debate is over HOW to achieve a goal.
It was a good night for the GOP and conservatives and a major thumping for the Democrats. But the real measure of power in DC did not shift enough. Sad to say this, but when it comes to making changes, you have to have enough of your team’s hands on enough controls to execute the change. Being a pure minority that talks a lot but does not have any important levers is nothing but fantasizing about accomplishing change. To get enough hands on enough levers you have to agree to common ground and some compromise.
This is a fact of life.
Update: Not surprisingly, Jay Cost at the Weekly Standard concurs with my assessment of where we go from here:
Republicans need to recognize that while conservative principles can win in America, they require candidates with broad appeal. Clearly, Sharron Angle, Ken Buck, and Christine O’Donnell are not these kinds of candidates. The goal of the Republican party in the next two years should be to articulate the conservative case with an eye to persuading as many voters as possible. After all, that is how change really happens in the United States — it comes through building a broad political coalition that stretches all across the country. Conservative principles have won such broad mandates before — in 1896 and 1900, in 1924, in 1980 and 1984 — and that should be the goal of the Republican party moving forward.