After a delightful two-week Christmas/New Year's respite in the Buckeye State amid snow, ice and sleet, I write today ensconced in my sunny Southern California home office with a view of our abundant orange, tangerine and grapefruit crop. As I admire the way the warm sunshine (near 70 degrees) brightens our snow-capped San Gabriel mountains (where I could go were I--for some bizarre reason--actually interested in seeing more of the white stuff), my thoughts naturally turn to friends, family and fellow citizens now engaged in the soul-purifying pursuits of shoveling driveways and scraping windshields. You will be better men for it . . . but let us not dwell on these inequities. Let us look onward and upward to a cold (and, likely, wet) Tuesday this coming November . . .
At National Review Online Jim Geraghty
writes today about a coming Buckeye Lazarus story . . . and I don't mean the once famous department store in Columbus which now, sadly, defies its original namesake. I am talking about the Ohio GOP-- for which, as Geraghty notes, one would not have been insane to have written an obituary in 2008. But what a difference two years can make in a bellwether state like Ohio! The party's fortunes now seem to be writing themselves, in part, because of a failure of leadership on the part of Ohio Democrats like Gov. Ted Strickland. Strickland failed to deliver on promises of reform and job growth. But there also have been awkward and embarrassing missteps (near-scandals, really) on the part of subordinates in Strickland's administration, that far too closely resemble the troubles of the embattled Ohio GOP of 2006 and leave the Ohio Democrats open to the charge of hypocrisy. Moreover, there is the larger issue of over-reaching and surprising (to Ohioans, anyway) liberalism on the part of the National Democratic Party. Healthcare and, especially, Cap and Trade, remain extremely unpopular in the Buckeye state.
These are all factors--though negative ones--that suggest a resurgence of GOP strength in the 2010 elections.
On the positive side of things, Geraghty does suggest that John Kasich is a particularly strong candidate for the Governor's mansion and even cites our own "gushing" Peter Schramm
as evidence of Kasich's persuasive and political abilities. He further suggests that the GOP US Senate candidate (should he win the primary), Rob Portman, is in possession of some serious and potentially mobilizing
ideas on the economic front--IF Democrats are unsuccessful in painting him as a "Bushie" and, "therefore," one of the architects of Ohio's current economic woes.
In this, Geraghty--perhaps unwittingly--points exactly to the missing ingredient for a truly successful 2010 GOP revival in Ohio (and, indeed, across the nation). The GOP is going to have to forcefully address the causes of and the prescriptions for the economic downturn. It cannot shrink from that fight. While it would be unwise to appear to engage in a simple defense of the Bush administration and its policies regarding the economy, it is a good time to force the Democrat's hand by returning to an argument about the basics of economics. Is freedom or the "expert" administration of government bureaucrats more likely to produce prosperity? Is liberty (including the liberty to fail) or government chaperoned efforts to provide economic "security" more likely to result in justice? Ohioans, like most Americans, still seek real justice and economic prosperity. What does real economic justice and prosperity look like and which party will best work to assure them of that
This year the Ohio GOP had better be ready with good answers to those questions.