Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Republican reaction to this election

All independent political analysts are predicting a sizable Democratic win. Almost all polls show a Democratic takeover of the House and at least a pickup of 3-4 seats in the Senate. This is likely to prompt some Republican soul searching. There are some who will probably blame the war in Iraq for Republican losses and others who will blame the losses on the way the war was waged and the incompetence of people like Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Bremmer. However, this issue will be tangential to the main issues that will be seen as the cause of the Democratic gains: Republican’s domestic spending, corruption, and incompetence.

Conservative Republicans will likely take issue with some of the big spenders on the appropriation committee and with earmarks but this is unlikely to address the larger issue of why the Republicans failed: which is the Republican base wants too much. Libertarian Republicans want school vouchers, social security reform, more trade agreements, and lower spending and possibly a flat tax. However, many of these positions are unpopular with the general public and libertarian Republicans are unwilling to do the necessary lobbying through advertisements and editorials necessary to create the conditions in which the majority of the public will support these issues. They have stood idly by while protectionists like Sherrod Brown have criticized every trade agreement and the only murmurs they have made were with the temporary steel tariffs. They sat idly by while President Bush went around the country to rally support for privatization accounts, meanwhile those who opposed it took to the media to convince the American public that was too risky. The proposal was finally killed for good by an article in the New York Times magazine section.

Social Conservatives seem to believe despite all evidence to the contrary that people support: Roe v. Wade being overturned, the federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case, a constitutional ban on gay marriage, and are against the federal funding of stem cell research. While social conservatives do a much better job than libertarian Republicans in terms of the lobbying of their ideas (with the exception of stem cell research where they actually have a better case but were late on lobbying) are more divisive and increasingly unpopular.

I have taken security hawks off this list because they seem to have reasonably tempered their positions on North Korea and Iran, given the unpopularity of the Iraq War but they were also part of the problem.

Republican elected officials should not take away from this election that they have to pander more to their base although they will have to be more fiscally responsible but their base has to demonstrate some political support for some of their ideas, otherwise some of their ideas will have to remain just that ideas and not legislation.

Hopefully, Republicans will not take the wrong message away from this election. Strong national defense, the power of the free market, and individual choice are all popular ideas and ones which hopefully will not be lost as a result of this election.


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