For all those on the progressive side expecting a miracle to take place on Nov. 2nd and sweep the polling places clear of those pesky right-wing nut-jobs, I hate to disappoint you. Instead, you need to concentrate on the size of the sweep that will take place – will it be a ripple? A wave? Or a tsunami?
Frankly, it’s beginning to look a bit like a tsunami is possible. In 1994, in what is popularly considered a “blow out” in political circles, the GOP took 54 House seats back in the mid-term elections.
Take a look at these comparisons (which obviously include “committed” independents in the “lean” categories). Compare 1994 and 2010. Note two things – 1) there’s a 6+ point difference between then and now favoring the Republicans. 2) Among independents, all but a few (and much fewer than in 1994) are not already committed (meaning there isn’t likely to be a sudden “surge” of indies going left in the remaining few days to swing the elections over to the Dems).
Last, but not least, look at the self-identified categories at the bottom. In all categories but “moderate” there has been growth. Most would argue this demonstrates the polarization of our polity. I’d agree. Moderates have lost 16 points since 1994. Liberals have gained 8, as have conservatives. However, the conservatives hold a decided edge over liberals. What that means is liberals need moderates much more than conservatives do. And it is the moderates and independents who are right now rejecting the liberals in Congress.
The point conservatives should take away from this is – at least as this poll demonstrates – that their ideas are winning. And to me, that says they have the backing to aggressively pursue their agenda. Note I said “aggressively”, not stupidly, or arrogantly or, well choose your own modifier and count on them to find a way to screw it up. Wisely may be a better way of saying it.
What do I mean by that? Here’s another survey to consider from Harris Interactive. It is the “right direction/wrong direction” poll for the country you see from various polling firms. To me it best indicates what is and has been going on within the polity for quite some time. What it also indicates is this anger and frustration isn’t new nor is it necessarily aimed at the current President or Congress. Instead it is something which has been existent for a long time and is finally coming to a head, driven most likely by the economic conditions, government overreach and fiscal profligacy:
|YEAR||Right Dir %||Wrong Dir %|
Note that 1994 was the big wave GOP takeover of the House during the Clinton years. And during the lead up, you saw the percentage dissatisfaction with the direction of the country as high as 81% – only exceeded by the 83% during the Bush era in October of 2008 – a month before the national presidential election.
Some may write this off to a cynical public, two-thirds of whom always see the glass as half-empty. But I think it goes much deeper than that to a public that has become increasingly aware that the premise on which this country was founded is being systematically betrayed by those engaged in governance. And, as the chart demonstrates, that belief isn’t held exclusively to one party. When the GOP was seen as betraying their principles, they too were seen as putting the country on the wrong track.
You may look at the chart and say, “ wait a minute, how do you conclude that – the public seems equally disenchanted with both sides given the numbers.” I’d point back to the other chart showing “conservatives” with 48% and rising and say there hasn’t been much in the way of “conservative” governance in the last 20 years. That’s why, for the most part, the “wrong track” remains consistent through both GOP and Democrat administrations. Democrats thought it was because of a disenchantment with the GOP. The GOP thought it was because the Democrats over reached. In fact, it was both of these and the fact that neither the GOP or the Democrats (particularly the Democrats) were conservative enough.
What you see now, driven by obvious unfettered and unacceptable deficit spending, government intrusion and takeovers is that anger and frustration finally boiling over. It is, of course, enabled by out technology today, but it is truly grass-roots (despite the best efforts of the left to characterize it as otherwise). And that’s what both mystifies and terrifies politicians. A finger in the wind doesn’t work so well right now. Despite incredible attempts to demonize them, ordinary people are standing up in town hall meetings and demanding answers to questions that politicians would prefer to avoid. There’s heckling at “debates”. Even violence (on both sides – as the left goes batsh*t crazy over the “head stomping”, let’s not forget the older gentleman at the Tea Party rally who had his finger bitten off by an SEIU thug).
It points to a restive populace tired of the same old promises, same old problems and same old “fixes”. An interesting phenomenon is occurring that has many political observers on both the left and the right scratching their heads as they try to understand it. We’re seeing the creation of spontaneous order at a grass-roots level of citizens who’ve had enough of business as usual. It scares the establishment to death. And that, folks, is healthy. The citizenry needs to keep our politicians in that state constantly.
Then – perhaps – they might figure out what it is the citizens of this country really want out of their government. And unless I’ve read it wrong, it isn’t the bloated, intrusive, hugely expensive and profligate mess they’ve created. Mr. Obama needs to learn that the country doesn’t think “government is cool” – only necessary. And that necessity needs to be tempered and quickly. Until it is, he and all politicians can count on continuing to see exactly what they see today in direction of the country polls and outspoken voter discontent – no matter which party they represent.
The more I see and hear of him, the more I read about what he’s doing, the more I think he’s the one who Republicans should be looking too as a future GOP nominee for President (or someone like him). He represents exactly the type leader that most libertarians, conservatives and Tea Partiers could rally around. Watch him in action here. “Refreshing” works for me:
|Gov Christie calls S-L columnist thin-skinned for inquiring about his ‘confrontational tone’|
Newt Gingrich lays out a succinct 3 step plan for conservatives in the future. It may seem funny that something like this has to be said, but with conservative Republicans wandering in the political wilderness, it’s obvious it must.
This isn’t rocket science, but it is good advice for just about any political movement.
The conservative movement has a simple and almost certainly successful future if it does three things:
1. Advocate first principles with courage, clarity, persistence and cheerfulness.
2. Insist on developing solutions based on those principles and insist on measuring other proposals against those principles.
3. Be prepared to oppose Republicans when they are wrong and side with Democrats when they are right, but always make the decision to support or oppose a matter of first principles and the application of those principles.
Note the last point. Gingrich isn’t talking about Republicans, although those in charge of the Republican brand could stand to heed the advice.
There’s a reason Gingrich doesn’t use the word “Republican”. It’s because he links this Democratic administration with the past spend-thrift Republican administration:
The Bush-Obama big government, big bureaucracy, politician-empowering, high-tax, high-inflation and high-interest-rate system continues to grow and to place the country in greater and greater danger from inflation, bureaucratic control of the economy, political interference in every aspect of our lives and massive debt.
Remember, we’re on bailout 5 right now. Both Obama and Biden, when Senators, voted “yes” on the first three and are now in the middle of putting the next two together. So the linkage, in my estimation, is correct. This is as much Obama’s problem as it was Bush’s despite his protestations to the contrary. The last two years have seen the Congress under Democratic control, while the executive branch was Republican. The recession is 17 months old, folks and that split government was in charge before the recession developed.
Gingrich hits on another key point:
While telling the truth, we also have to bear the burden of providing solutions and not merely criticism.
That’s critical. Anyone can criticize. Putting plausible solutions together that adhere to the principles of a movement and also are attractive to the citizenry is no easy job. But that is what any movement that wants to be taken seriously must do.
Gingrich concludes with:
Finally, the conservative movement has to learn to reach out to every American who wants a better future through freedom, hard work and opportunity.
Yes, he’s talking about a “big tent” based on only three requirements: a belief in freedom, hard work and opportunity. Conspicuously absent are mentions of wedge issues that normally are identified with Republican politics.
Gingrich’s separation of “conservative” from “Republican” is a warning shot across the bow of the GOP. Shape up or prepare to hear from conservatives. And if Republicans don’t listen, they should prepare to lose conservative support. Conservatives may be finding a way out of the wilderness. It remains to be seen if Republicans will follow.