As next week’s mid-term election looms, we are at the height of the political silly-season. The din from both sides of the aisle is deafening. From the Left we have Pelosi, Kerry, Dean, Murtha, Reid and others screaming shrilly about Foleygate, their secret plan for the Iraq war, and how much they hate George Bush (who, interestingly enough, isn’t running for anything). From the Right we have Hannity, Limbaugh, Medved, and others proclaiming that the sky is going to fall if we have to say the words “Speaker Pelosi”, and life as we know it will come to an end.
I think everyone needs to get a grip, and take a chill pill.
First of all, if the War on Terror (WOT) is the driving issue, let’s get it in perspective. The Cold War lasted about 40 years, and Ronald Reagan finally won it without us ever having to fire a shot at the USSR. During the Cold War, there were many proxy actions (Vietnam and Korea coming immediately to mind). There were Republican and Democrat administrations and Congresses during that time. There were ups and downs, but we ultimately prevailed. The WOT has been going on for about thirteen years now, since the first WTC bombing, though we’ve only been aware of it for about five. Whatever happens in Iraq, the WOT is going to last for a long time still to come. Regardless of what happens next week, there will be both Democrats and Republicans at the helm between now and its conclusion, current chicken-littleing notwithstanding. The ultimate outcome – barring terrorist deployment of a true WMD against us – will most likely be determined by the same factor that did in the USSR: depletion of the enemy’s resources.
In other words, no matter what happens in the current election, the Democrats will at some point have their chance to run things. That’s simply political reality based on the cyclical nature of American politics.
Will that be a good thing for the country? Probably not, given the current Democrat positions, strategies, and philosophies. Will it be fatal to the country? Again, barring WMDs, no. We survived Jimmy Carter, didn’t we? There may even be an up side.
There’s an old saying that goes “Sometimes it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt”. The Democrats have been safely sniping from the sidelines now for years, and they’ve been given a lot of latitude. If they take control of either or both houses next week, what’s the worst that can happen? They’ll have, at best, slim majorities so it will be hard if not impossible for them to pass any radical legislation. Further, even if they do, there’s George Bush, sitting in the White House and never having to worry about running for office again, veto pen in hand (assuming he remembers where he put it). But the important point is that they’ll be then forced to perform, and their actions will provide the real information people need to make truly informed choices in what I consider a much more important event, the upcoming 2008 election, in which the Presidency is up for grabs and no incumbent is running, as well as all House seats and one-third of the Senate.
A Democrat win this time, then, essentially means a gridlock situation for two years (which is actually fine with me), and most probably a very resounding Democrat defeat in the all-important 2008 election.
Which brings us to another issue. If the Democrats do, in fact, prevail in the upcoming election it will not have been because they’ve presented persuasive arguments; after all, their whole campaign essentially boils down to “we hate Bush”. It will be because the Republicans will once again have demonstrated their astounding capability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They have failed to set the tone and agenda of the debate, defaulting that to the Democrats. They have failed to be aggressive in setting forth a clear message of values, essentially boiling their whole campaign down to the mirror image of the Democrats’: “we hate Pelosi”. They have wandered far from the essential roots of their success, conservative values and small government. If they lose, they will have no one to blame but themselves.
The most resounding Presidential victories in recent history were the election and re-election of Ronald Wilson Reagan, as well as the same for Nixon. In both cases, the candidates underscored the philosophical differences between themselves and their opponents, and especially in Reagan’s case made crystal clear the bedrock conservative principles for which he stood, a message that resonated not only with the base of the party, but Americans across the land. This country is essentially, at its roots, a Judeo-Christian society with strong and traditional conservative values. The reason none of Reagan’s successors have been able to achieve the type of results at the ballot that he did is that they have allowed those values to be diluted in their pandering quest for votes. In other words, in trying to be all things to all people, they end up being nothing to anyone, and you end up with the majority of the voters casting their ballots for the least objectionable candidate, which is why in the current era we end up with these races being virtual dead heats.
Further, some conservative pundits – such as Medved and other columnists on this site – have taken the tack of saying that conservatives who don’t vote for Republican candidates are, essentially, traitors or cowards. Aside from the fact that this kind of rhetoric is NOT going to sway many people who think for themselves, it is even counterproductive, as it’s downright repulsive. Evidently, in their minds, conservatives are supposed to act just like the sheeple they so deride on the other side of the aisle, who enter the voting booth and vote for anything with a “D” behind it. Bad for them, but good for us if the letter’s an “R”.
Double standard, anyone?
Important update 25 Oct 2006
Dick Mountjoy -- a solid, conservative Republican who, when he held statewide office was a staunch Second Amendment supporter -- is running against Dianne Feinstein for the US Senate seat up for grabs this election. Today, I was in contact with Mountjoy's office, and the Republican Party has failed to provide any support at all for Mountjoy's campaign.
I thought this was an important election. Isn't that what everybody's saying?