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Election 2006: Republicans binge and purge
Posted by: Jon Henke on Thursday, November 09, 2006

The election
The Democrats said: “Had enough?”

The Republicans said: “It could be worse!”

The voters said: “Let’s find out.”
The lesson
I say the American people didn't quit on the Contract with America, we did. And in so doing, we severed the bonds of trust between our party and millions of our most ardent supporters.

As the 110th Congress convenes next year, Republicans must cordially accept defeat and dedicate ourselves to advancing our cause as the loyal opposition knowing that the only way to retake our natural, governing majority, is to renew our commitment to limited government, national defense, traditional values and reform. [Congressman Mike Pence]
The opportunity
Now it is time to show that same party and the politicians in it, and coming into it, what we can do to help them. That means identifying those whom you think have earned or deserve your support, and then providing it - in time, encouragement, money, public approbation, and votes.


Many have questioned the merits of voting out wayward Republicans, only to replace them with a Democratic Party even less interested in limited government and libertarian ideals. The phrase "lesser of two evils" was employed liberally.

We'll learn shortly why that was incorrect.

There is a 'game theory' rationale for voting (as Dale did) for a third party or even a "greater evil" candidate. If elections were simply discrete, binary choices whose effects were limited to each individual term, then it would always make sense to vote for the lesser of two evils.

However — and we're about to see this — losing has an important effect on Parties. Voting against Republicans in 2006 will change the options we have in 2008. Instead of indefinite status quo, we're almost certainly going to have a rejuvenated Republican Party working on a return to their limited government ideals.

If we just kept reelecting the same old GOP, that would not happen. Incentives matter. As Bill Quick wrote, "Be of good cheer. The Republicans will be back in 2008, and much better for what happened to them in 2006."

As a first step toward that end, the upcoming Republican leadership elections will bear watching.

The length of time that the GOP is forced to wander in the wilderness will depend upon (a) how seriously they take this rebuke, and (b) how well they can capture the public imagination with a serious, "Contract with America" style agenda of reform aimed at limiting their own power, lest they fall back into the "power corrupts" trap.

Much like he did with the previous House Majority Leader election, NZ Bear is setting up a page on which people can submit questions for the new leader candidates. However, based on what I've seen and read for some time now, I would be very comfortable endorsing and working for a Republican Party led by Mike Pence and John Shadegg.

Red State will have more on this next set of choices. Instapundit already has some coverage. Pay attention. The direction the Republicans choose will define the nature of every forthcoming election for some time.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
It won’t be that easy, Jon. The American people don’t support small-government conservatism to the same degree they did in, say, 1984 or 1994. Why? Welfare reform took the most popular element of small-government conservatism (the government spending side, not the tax cut side) away for good. White working-class voters supported small-government conservatism because they believed their hard-earned dollars were being spent on undeserving black poor people. Now these white working-class voters see no benefit to small-government conservatism. The GOP sensed this in 2000 and turned to big government conservatism (compassionat conservatism) instead: social conservatism to get votes, tax cuts for the donor base, and more government entitlements to please the white working class voter. Rove tried to buck that for a moment with Social Security reform, but found that many socially conservative Republicans in places like Alabama were plenty happy with Social Security as it now stood.

The GOP may push for Reagan-style small-government conservatism again. But unless the Democrats establish another hugely unpopular and culturally threatening bureaucracy like AFDC, don’t expect it to attract many votes outside the existing base of economically well-off small government conservatives. That’s just my take.
 
Written By: Elrod
URL: http://
However — and we’re about to see this — losing has an important effect on Parties. Voting against Republicans in 2006 will change the options we have in 2008. Instead of indefinite status quo, we’re almost certainly going to have a rejuvenated Republican Party working on a return to their limited government ideals.
Well, one can hope. I find it more likely that the GOP will start looking more like the Democrat Party than a limited government party.

I will be happy if I am proven wrong in this.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
This is delusion, Henke.

Mark my words.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Welcome back Jon, sorry YOU lost, but glad your guy did.

The logic of this assertion requires that the Democrats have not learned anything.

If the Democrats have learned how to create fiscally responsible liberal programs (my personal term for this is "social programs with a return on investment"), and don’t break the bank, the Republicans, for all their rhetoric (that should be taken with a grain of salt considering their history) will find it very difficult to even get a chance to try again in the near future.

You may not like it, and I don’t like all of it, but Americans like social programs, they always have. What they don’t like are very expensive social programs that don’t work.

The tricky part that may cause the Dems to stumble, and give the R’s an opening sooner rather than later is healthcare. If they (D’s) try to address healthcare before ’08, it could be wildly successful politically (we won’t know about the success of any programs they create for years to come), or it could be a disaster.

A presidential veto of a popular healthcare plan could be the best thing for the Democrats and sweep them into a power monopoly in ’08.

Of course that would be bad for everyone, we’d have a different monopoly on power, with the same corruption that power always brings.

Either way, we’ll likely have national healthcare of some sort within the next 6 years, unless the Republicans can convince Americans that what they have now is good enough.

Meanwhile, I have to start thinking of which Republican Presidential candidate I am going to support.

Please don’t let it be Jeb.

If I have to choose between Jeb and Hillary, I’ll pick Australia!

McCain - Giuliani?

Chafee - Snowe? (kidding)

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Capt, the reason most voters are ok right now with endless social programs is because since the early 1980’s we have gotten very, very, rich as a nation, very rich. Partly because of economic stimulus, partly because of global free trade, and partly because of the computer revolution. If however, the economy does poorly and/or when Social Security finally collapses, then they will change their minds.

I see no evidence that the Democrats have learned anything. I agree with you that if they took the path of moderation and fiscal sanity(even modest reform) they could sew up the electorate for a generation. But they won’t, it is not in their nature.


 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
Under Clinton the government grew at 33% - one third - the rate Bush and the liberal Republicans have grown it. I read 3 "news" articles saying that the new Democratic Congress men are mostly Reagan men (range was between 66% and 75%) The most famous conservative Democrat Congressional winner is a formef Fifth Marine Nam Vet (as I am) who was Ronnie’s Under Sec Navy. Some of you may have heard of Shuler another small govt conservative Dem who pushed out a liberal Republican.

I bet the growth of government with the Dems in control will be less than half what it has been the last six years! The GOP has been taken over by liberals who call themselves "conservatives"; but we saw through their lies!

*OFF TOPIC COMMENT*

To all the men that have worn the Globe and Anchor, all the men who will so do in the future and most importantly to those giving their lives for freedom

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

“…First to fight for right and freedom…”
Gung Ho!


An old exJarhead

 
Written By: Rodney A Stanton
URL: http://
Instead of indefinite status quo, we’re almost certainly going to have a rejuvenated Republican Party working on a return to their limited government ideals.
The "almost certainly" part of that sentence is an overstatement to be sure.

What I fear is that the Republicans will become a protectionist, anti-immigration party that will settle for a few bones that the Democrats throw them, like they were for the 40 years before 1994.
social conservatism to get votes, tax cuts for the donor base, and more government entitlements to please the white working class voter.
.....(to finish that sentence) and got voted out of office anyway.

Big government conservatism is a loser because if you want big government social programs why not go to the party who invented them, really believes in them and will make them huge?

Here’s a fact that Dick Armey hit on in his Wall Street Journal editorial yesterday: When Republicans act like Democrats they lose elections, when Democrats act like Republicans they win elections.

There is a case to be made to the American people that small, fiscally responsible government that treats the American people like adults is the best model for the future. The problem is that nobody has made that argument in a long time. Whenever a credible politician makes that argument he/she wins.

I think the Amqerican people rejected Newt Gingrich’s personality, they didn’t like him very much personally, especially in comparison to Clinton. The Republican party mistook this for disliking his policies and abandoned the principals of the Contract With America. This was a huge mis-reading of the situation, especially considering Bill Clinton won the 1996 election by acting like a small government conservative. Andrew Sullivan, who I don’t always agree with, is dead right on this issue.

Who the Republicans elect as Minority Leaders in house and senate will speak volumes about whether they have learned anything. I’m betting on the no.
 
Written By: DS
URL: http://
Because the Democrats really cleaned up their act after 1994. Oh yeah . . .

Small vs big government is one issue, but it isn’t the only one. Two other issues that really hurt the Republicans:

1) Iraq. They gave the Democrats a once-in-a-generation chance to actually convince the American public that they will better protect American interests. The Republicans crossed the line from a strong, vigorous defense policy to Trotskyist adventurism.

2) Republican fealty to the Christian Taliban. The Schiavo freakshow cost Republicans a bunch of Libertarian votes. The "homos getting married will ruin America" crap plays for now, but it sure won’t in ten years—Arizonans thankfully had the good sense to reject that garbage. The Republicans couldn’t get a law banning all abortions passed—in the most pro-life state in the union.
 
Written By: Geek, Esq.
URL: http://
Just as important as who the leader should be is what the message should be.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://inactivist.org/blog/keith_indy
First of all, it is great to have you back Jon.

Second, I hope you are right about the Republicans getting back to what they were before.

Third, I am pretty pessimistic about the hopes for the government growing slower anytime soon. Unlike Cap, the key will be Republican behavior, not Democrat. I took a look at the numbers behind the votes over the past 15 years, and they show that the variable is not Democrats, but Republicans when it comes to restraining the state. The Democrats are truly awful here, despite claims about the nineties or Cap’s belief they have learned anything. More can be found here since I have already written it: The Math Behind the Sin of Profligacy.

I am pessimistic with this crop, hopefully too much so.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: www.asecondhandconjecture.com
My thoughts are that the Republicans went the wrong way in that they moved to the left fiscally and stayed very conservative socially. If they stayed very conservative fiscally (small government) and moved to moderate on social issues they would do better.

Lose the war on drugs
Pick thier fights in the abortion debate (like parental notification and no late term and drop the trying to do away with abortion altogether)

Thats just two things they could do to help thier party.
 
Written By: SkyWatch
URL: http://
Many have questioned the merits of voting out wayward Republicans, only to replace them with a Democratic Party even less interested in limited government and libertarian ideals. The phrase "lesser of two evils" was employed liberally.
I believe the GOP will get their sh*t together before long. I base this on the way the party and it’s supporters are taking defeat. No P.E.S.T. syndrome requiring therapy, no whining about stolen elections, no empty threats to move to Canada, no sneering at the rest of the country and demeaning them as stupid or bigoted for voting against them. In fact, many Repub. supporters aren’t that bummed at all, which should terrify GOP leaders if they’re rational.

PLUS we got rid of Chafee. It’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow at least some good ;)
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
The "homos getting married will ruin America" crap plays for now, but it sure won’t in ten years—Arizonans thankfully had the good sense to reject that garbage.
I’m not sure the marriage amendments helped Republicans at all. Here in Virginia, the marriage amendment passed handily, but it didn’t seem to help Allen, probably because no one thought the amendment was urgent enough to draw anyone to the polls who wasn’t going there anyway.

FWI, in my county Allen won by a landslide but the marriage amendment passed by a narrower margin than it did statewide.
 
Written By: Xrlq
URL: http://xrlq.com/
I’m beginning to question a 2 year bounce back.

I see two main problems, one within and one without.

The internal problem is that in the initial hurt of this loss, reform looks easy to push through. But the old powerstructure is still there and will not be brushed asside, except in appearance, so easily.

The external problem is that a lot of people don’t realize the effect that Democrats will have on the economy and foreign policy (A neutered Clinton is not a proper gage). They’ve either forgotten or are too young. It will take more than two years to even start to feel the impact, not to mention the deflection and spin the media will use to help cover it up.

If you want to see reform in the Party and be prepared for a public ready to take back the Republicans, you need to have a 2, 4, & 6 year plan. Two years will not be enough. Expecting a 2 year turn around, Republicans could end up horribly disappointed and demoralized.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
If the Democrats have learned how to create fiscally responsible liberal programs (my personal term for this is "social programs with a return on investment"), and don’t break the bank, the Republicans, for all their rhetoric (that should be taken with a grain of salt considering their history) will find it very difficult to even get a chance to try again in the near future.
Fiscally responsible liberal programs? Welcome to Dreamland. I’m sorry, but corrupt, incompetent, and overbudget are synonymous with government programs. Just accept it.
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
Here is one Republicans answer...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116312591001219432.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries
We might begin by asking why we lost. Taxes, first, is the easy one, and there is no need for a Republican mea culpa here. We’ve cut taxes, and Americans and the economy are better off for it. But recently we’ve been satisfied with putting Democrats "on record" supporting higher taxes. We need to do more. We will soon be bumping up against the deadlines to either repeal or extend the Bush tax cuts on income, estates, capital gains and dividends. This presents an excellent opportunity to rebuild momentum. Our congressional leadership should travel around the country — concert tour style — explaining why individuals spend their money better than the government.

Second, spending. This one is more difficult because it requires not just a mea culpa but abject apology. Not the politician-style — "I’m sorry if you were offended by spending that our opponents have misinterpreted as offensive" — but rather: "We’ve overspent, badly, and it was offensive to you as well as our conservative principles. We’re sorry, and we’re going to do better."

It is not only the level of spending, of course, that has been offensive. It is the manner of spending. Pork-barrel earmarks, or "member projects" (as we preferred to call them so as not to offend our own sensibilities), greatly multiplied under Republican rule. The Democrats were happy as long as enough crumbs fell from the Republican appropriators’ table. Now that we are in the minority, will we be similarly satisfied or will we seek to change the practice?

On this issue, our constituents need no convincing. They know it is wrong. We need the courage to enact meaningful reforms, doubly difficult because of the present situation. But if we are chastened — we ought to be — perhaps we will emerge stronger for it. If Republicans are serious about changing direction, there will be ample opportunities in the next two years to translate our dormant beliefs into action.

The Farm Bill probably provides the best example of where we’ve gone wrong, and what we need to do to hew back to our first principles.

During the 1990s, then-Sen. Phil Gramm accurately described U.S. farm policy as "enough to make a Russian Commissar puke." The Republicans assembled the "Freedom to Farm Act," which, starting in 1996, put U.S. farmers on a glide path toward an end to subsidies. Somewhere between the field and the silo, however, we became mired in the political mud. In 2002, we repealed the Freedom to Farm Act and in its place installed the "Farm Security Act" — those who value the adage about trading freedom for security can pause and shudder here — with even more lavish subsidies.

Now, with reauthorization of the Farm Bill on the horizon next year, we have to decide whether we will up the ante with Democrats in terms of red state/blue state politics in the heartland, or whether we believe our own rhetoric about free markets. This debate will have implications larger than the fiscal one. Most notably, it will determine if we are serious about the future of free trade.

Of immediate concern to Republicans in the House of Representatives is deciding who will be our standard bearer. Can those who have been a part of the current leadership team convince the other members that they’ve had an epiphany? It’s possible, I suppose. But I think we’d be best served with some fresh faces, congressmen like Mike Pence and John Shadegg, who haven’t had to travel that road to Damascus.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://inactivist.org/blog/keith_indy
Jon,

It’s really hard to believe that you’re the same person I read on the Allen blog. Had you defended your candidate with this kind of intelligence, I would have echoed the commenter who said sorry you lost, glad your candidate did. As it, is I’ll just say I hope the showers are working out for you.

In any case, I think the problem is not with conservative philosophy but implementation. The republicans honed their political skills and methods as an opposition party and never made the transition to a majority situation. In the context of a seemingly permanent democratic majority, they adopted a strident rhetoric. But, rather than moving incrementally once in power, they took one setback and took it as a refutation of their position.

Most importantly, they never worked institutionally to advance their agenda. It was always a matter of rhetoric and passion because that’s all they had to work with in the opposition. There were never institutional structures set up to shrink government. That’s the sort of thing that could have left a legacy for their ideas and provided a constant check on their own worst impulses. But, because they viewed themselves as crusaders rather than builders, they failed to acheive anything.
 
Written By: James
URL: http://
Well, I think many adopted the "conservative" label when they were anything but in the first place. President Bush for instance, in saying that you can use government to further "conservative" ends.

Maybe if social conservatism is your big thing, but without violating some fiscal conservative principles.

Time to push social conservatism where it belongs, at the family table, at the local church, at the and at the local town hall. There are but a few issues that should rise to the state government level, let along all the way to the Federal level.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://inactivist.org/blog/keith_indy
3 things I want to see out of Republicans

1 - Commitment to Reform the process
2 - Limited Government
3 - Clean politics

http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/008480.php
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://inactivist.org/blog/keith_indy
You know, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a bounceback...."all" (yes I know, it’s still a lot) they really need is to pick off 1 incumbent Senator running in a Red state (there’s a few) and get the Pres. (given the wide open field, who knows? But it can happen) or pick off 2 Senators. The enthusiasm for the Dem "wave" may have abated by 2008 and the GOP can claw back a bit.


Of course, a smart party will try for long term success. Lets see if they do
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
If the Democrats have learned how to create fiscally responsible liberal programs (my personal term for this is "social programs with a return on investment"), and don’t break the bank,
Sure, maybe they will figure out how to make socialism work. Why do I doubt this?

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Under Clinton the government grew at 33% - one third - the rate Bush and the liberal Republicans have grown it.
Well, sure: Hillery Care went down in flames in a Democrat Congress, and after that Clinton signed Republican legislation like welfare reform.

Clinton is basically an example of what you get with a solid Republican Congress and a weak-kneed Democrat President who’s primary goals are poll numbers, fundraising, and plump interns.
I read 3 "news" articles saying that the new Democratic Congress men are mostly Reagan men (range was between 66% and 75%)
Looking at the individuals, the change might be minor. Replacing entrenched Republicans with fresh, conservative Democrats might sound good on a race-by-race basis, but the key is the Party leadership and the committies.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Clinton is basically an example of what you get with a solid Republican Congress and a weak-kneed Democrat President who’s primary goals are poll numbers, fundraising, and plump interns.
Yeah, we saw who had the weak knees when the R’s had their showdown with Clinton by shutting down the government. R’s folded like a lawnchair.

It’s entertaining rhetoric, but Clinton proved to be far more formidable than most people, including myself who voted against him twice, expected.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
I’m a registered Democrat and I’d like to add my perspective to this please. The 11th hour argument that Democrats would raise everyone’s taxes fell on deaf ears for a reason. Accountability. It’s not about raising taxes so much as it is about just what is the average taxpayer getting for their tax dollars. Wasn’t it pretty easy to look at. Here is the stock market hitting record highs, the economy doing just fine and we still have an open ticket at 300Billion + and thousands of our finest killed and maimed in Iraq.
This begs the simple question, could our resources been spent more wisely for the same ends? Thanks for your time.
 
Written By: the Fly-Man
URL: http://

 
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