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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Monday, November 13, 2006

Another wrong loser

My BFF Owen has a gigantic ideological stick where you know it's gotta hurt, but he usually gets his facts straight. Today he totally blows it in terms of telling the truth.

However, I can't say I disagree with his ultimate conclusion:
I must admit that I find the reaction of some Lefties to the election to be somewhat comical. Many of them are interpreting the election as a wholesale rejection of Conservatism. They insist that those of us who are conservatives, should abandon our beliefs and just accept the fact that the election proves that we are wrong about everything.
I do not actually think that the results are evidence of any kind of a permanent Democratic majority anymore than I believed Karl Rove when he said in 2004 that the Republican majority was permanent. There is still plenty of battleground, particularly in the West. But I think last Tuesday was, in fact, the end of a kind of re-alignment that began in 1994: Republicans now pretty well own the South; it took a dozen years for the moderate Republicans left in the Northeast and chunks of the Midwest to finally exit stage right. It was also a rejection of Bush--and the more we learn, the clearer that is. It's also a reaction to the utter hell that Iraq has become. (Remember when Iraq was supposed to be no more dangerous than Detroit? When Motor City residents start tattooing names and SSNs on their bodies, call me.)

But then, moving from that perfectly reasonable premise, Owen runs down the litany of false statements that, I think, conservatives are using to make themselves feel better. I'll take them one at a time; he's in italics:
  • Never mind that many of the Dems who won across the country were espousing many conservative beliefs.
    Depends on how you define "many." If you mean "a few" including high-profile ones like Bob Casey, then sure. But some facts are in order: Chris Bowers counts 24 newly elected Dems from the House who are anything but conservative. In the Senate, Tester, McCaskill, Brown, and Klobuchar all have liberal voting records behind them. Tom Schaller puts it into convenient chart form, and adds, "the liberal wing of the GOP suffered a disproportionate share of losses compared to the moderate and/or conservative wings. Since the Democrats who beat them ran uniformly to the left of their opponents, the notion that conservative Democrats knocked off a set of mostly liberal Republicans defies simple logic."

  • Never mind that the election results are completely average in historical terms.
    There have been two 6th-year midterm elections since the 1950s. In 1986, the Dems, the "opposition party" to Reagan, picked up fifve seats. In 1998, the Dems, the "ruling party" with Clinton, also picked up five seats. Since 1994's 54-seat switch, the number of seats switching have been less than ten at a time. To call last Tuesday average is to completely minimize it.

  • Never mind that there were many forces in this election that were independent of philosophy (corruption, waste, etc.).
    And Republicans had nothing to do with those? Who's been in complete power for six years?

  • Never mind that the Republicans lost much of their base precisely because they had become a bunch of big-government politicians.
    Except that the Republicans didn't lose their base. In fact, Republicans lost independents, who made up almost a quarter of the voters this year. Kevin Drum compares the 2004 and 2006 exit polls to find that "Conservatives are still solidly supporting the Republican Party." I bet, for example, that Owen and all of his conservative readers turned out for Republicans on the ballot last Tuesday.
I should also point out that the Dems received a higher percentage of the votes in both House and Senate races this year (53% and 55%, repsectively) than Bush did in either 2000 or 2004. This is not to suggest that I think Dems must run roughshod over everyone--as Bush suggested he could do with his "mandate" and "political capital." I am suggesting, however, that what happened Tuesday is not something that can be swept under the rug or hidden behind lame (and false) excuses. The national Republican Party--and the current flavor of conservatism--has led voters to speak with a clear voice in opposition.

Far be it from me to tell Republicans how to plan for 2008; it sure seems to me, however, that sitting around and lying to yourself about why you lost is a bad way to start.

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