Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

My Study Showed

Listen, there’s no hope in MT and VA. That means the Rs were A LITTLE unlucky on the close ones. A normal distribution of the tight races would have been 50/50, as I predicted. I was hopelessly romantic and meritocratic in making foolish predictions on Steele and Ford, which I admitted at the time

And the House will be around 30 (plus or minus,prob. plus), for the reasons I gave.

So I take no (or just a little) pleasure in announcing this: My predictions were almost exactly right. And my reasons for making them were almost exactly right. It’s Iraq and corruption in that order, stupid.

So I’m wating for NLT prize (and not one of those stinkin’ mugs), and I’m available to 2008 Republican candidates as a high-paid consultant. (And to Prof. Pat Deneen: We theorists can guess election outcomes with the best of the social scientists.)

Remember that one secondary reason Democrats won because in most of the key races they had better candidates and ran a better campaign overall. In MT and VA, it’s wasn’t the Iraq war that finally did the Rs in, and in some of the close House races attractive and relatively moderate Ds prevailed. The severity of the outcome was quite avoidable.

Discussions - 14 Comments

Allen may have fumbled his way to a close defeat, but at least VA voters embraced "first principles" and accepted the marriage amendment.

It’s Iraq and corruption in that order, stupid.

To the extent the American pubic disagrees with the current direction and tactics is one thing; to disagree with the general principle of securing victory is another. It is entirely unclear to me what the American electorate intended by way of their votes. But it is perfectly clear to me what our enemies will conclude from this.

Americans are, ultimately, fairly selfish creatures. They desperately want to go back to sleep; to pull the covers back up over their heads and pretend as if it’s 1996 again. Democrats offered them the illusion of that option. The voters took it.

Sometime next year Iran will ramp up its actions in the region. Bush, with no capital left, will be relatively helpless. The Democrat leadership will speak many words and wave their arms, but to no real effect. Iran will cement their influence in the region, driving their neighbors to accelerate their nuclear ambitions. In the meantime, Israel is now all alone; so is Taiwan. Perhaps Japan as well.

I have seen last night’s results described as a minor thing ... a mid-term power shuffle. Hardly. This was a titanic shift; a true disaster. Republicans will not regain the majority in either chamber for a decade or more.

The only thing that changes this dynamic is another attack on our home soil. But next time it won’t be a few planes and some real estate in Manhattan. By then, it’ll be too late to effectively do anything to stem the tide.

Yes, I’m pessimistic. I think we have every reason to be. The Republicans had an opportunity to demonstrate some leadership; they did not. The voters had an opportunity to look past their short-sighted desire for slumber; they passed up the opportunity.

I have a hard time believing that so many voters would sacrifice all other political goals to "vent" over Foley. If the GOP base is this irrational, then it really is over for this country.

Don, It wasn’t a minor thing. But I don’t know why the House is lost for a decade! I’m not sure the prez is helpless, but things will be very hard for him now. And I hate the way our enemies take satisfaction in the election’s outcome, just as I hate the way the Rs in some many cases screwed things up. The voters remain basically more cons. than not. The result doesn’t reflect any real change in public opinion about the fundamental issues.

To the extent the American pubic disagrees with the current direction and tactics is one thing; to disagree with the general principle of securing victory is another. It is entirely unclear to me what the American electorate intended by way of their votes.

I think it’s clear to the American people that occupation of Iraq is not part of the war on terror.

The Republican party failed to pick up a single Democratically held seat.

Oh, Marko...I hope every Democrat is drunk with victory just like you. It will make retaking what is ours a lot more fun. I want you to notice how the "gay marriage" issues went, and then tell me the country’s turned to the Left. Don’t think so. Conservatives have some killer issues (e.g., immigration, culture war, defense, terrorism, economy) IF THEY WILL USE THEM. The Democrat victory yesterday hangs on a single attack on our soil...even one, and you and your buddies are toast.

Dear Peter (L), congrats on your accuracy. Look forward to the podcast. Back to work at this end.

Peter Lawler:

I am a bit confused how you could say yesterday’s election showed voters were "conservative." Maybe we define the term differently? I read a gay marriage ban failed in Arizona, but I guess it passed in VA, so even there, minimum wage increases passed in 6 states, the South Dakota abortion ban failed by a lot, and in Missouri they approved stem cell research. How in the world is any of that conservative?

In Ohio, Brown ran a classical liberal campaign (in my opinion). His message seemed to be Ohio has a bad economy, I will get government to give us jobs. Strickland seemed to have the same theme. I do not know how much more liberal and anti-conservative that can be.

"It will make retaking what is ours a lot more fun."

What is YOURS? Oh dainy, where ever do you get these ideas? I guess you’re just grouchy because today is kind of a rough day for you!

The problem isn’t, primarily, a disaffected base. The base is disaffected, and has every right and reason to be. But it appears to have turned out and voted right, by and large. The problem is millions of semi-conservative people who are just as willing to vote for the Democrats as for Republicans. The kind of people who vote for marriage protection and for Jim Webb in Virginia. Or who vote against reverse racism but for Granholm and Stabenow in Michigan. Bluntly stated, there are millions of stupid or ill-informed (pick your term) Americans. Outstanding campaigners like FDR, Truman, JFK and Reagan are good at getting through to such people. Political mediocrities like W. are not -- an ability to connect with the base on a personal level (good Christian in cowboy boots) isn’t enough. You have to get a substantial slice of the electorate to either think in a new way or fall in love with you, preferably both.

This election marks the end of GWB as the leader, or even a major leader, of the Republican party. And that is a good thing. Whether we can do better or not, we simply must do better if we are to have a prayer in ’08.

2: Don, again, I agree strongly with most of your post. The bottom line in this election, despite all the Republican failures, is that a decisive segment of the American people wants to pretend that we can make all this unpleasantness with the Islamo-fascists go away, that we can turn back the clock to 1996.

4: Professor Lawler, yes, it’s too early to say that we cannot win back the House for a decade. But I am fairly comfortable predicting we won’t win it back, let alone win a truly functional majority, in ’08. One, many of the Democratic gains came in districts that are more Democratic than Republican. Two, more Republicans and virtually no Democrats will retire in ’08, for obvious reasons. Therefore, the open seats that year will skew against us. Three, being in the majority, the Dems are in a better position than ever to recruit excellent candidates. Our best hope for taking back the House is the narrow election of a leftist Democrat such as Hillary in ’08, followed by a good 2010 midterm. But what could such a Congress accomplish, faced with a leftist Democratic president who not only opposes but detests almost everything we believe in?

Perhaps we can learn something from the libertarians in this situation. Instead of thinking we have to control the machinery of government, aren’t there things we can do without government that probably wouldn’t materialize even if we DID control it (e.g., donations to the Minute Men)?

If you believe Lou Dobbs, and I’m beginning to, Congress is owned by very powerful interests. The day may be coming when, if we are to save our country, we must act without government help.

Peter -
I always thought you’d be the closest, though I hazard it’s not because you’re the most scientific, but the most disposed to a kind of charming and even cheerful pessimism. It makes you the post-modern realist that you are...


Patrick, you’re quite right about Peter’s tempermental "attunement" to things political; if (and when) he gets a big ahead about his augury skills, just whisper in his ear "Wesley Clark."

Peter L: congrats on your clairvoyance.

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