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.
The best thing that Republicans have going for them is that it seems like there is a majority, in many swing states, that is willing to listen to what the Republican has to say. One of the most frustrating things about 2006 and 2008 was knowing that guys like Talent, Sununu, Santorum, Smith and Chafee were going to lose no matter what they said or did as long as the Democrats offered a plausible alternative candidate - not that Santorum made the most of his nonoppportunity or that I was sorry to see Chafee go. Those were really tough years for Republicans who were neither from strongly red states nor statewide institutions (like Snowe and Collins from Maine).
This year it doesn't feel like there is a huge Republican wave coming (in the sense that Democrats from right-leaning or swing states are in as much trouble as Republicans from liberal and swing districts were in trouble in 2006 and 2008). Its more like Republicans will be in more of a fail, but I was looking at some of the Senate match ups and found myself feeling pretty good about the chances of a four or five seat Republican pick up with even a slight headwind.
I'm glad that Portman, unlike the McCain of 2008, is trying to come up with a tax cut program that aims to win over a wider constituency than the Wall Street Journal editorial board
The best thing Republicans have going for them is that the majority of people in most states are appalled by what they see Democrats doing. All those issues mentioned are important, but making the US economy into something stupid will be what hurts Democrats the most. In the next election people might actually listen to what Republicans have to say, because they cannot take most Democrats seriously for a whole variety of reasons.
Folks who sat out the last couple of elections out of anger with the GOP will be afraid to sit out the next elections. If the GOP runs good guys people will go vote for them. I hear people at the public library and in grocery lines talking with friends and acquaintances about "the soul of America" and "what is our country coming to?" and that is big talk. I don't know if it means a big swell for Republicans, but it does mean that the change Democrats are offering is not the change my neighbors had in mind. However, Obama has a way to go before people are talking about him the way they were talking about Bush in that last year.
In Ohio, people seem to like Strickland in a personal way, as they did not like Taft. This means he will not be hurt by "scandals" in the same way. Kasich is likable, as well, I suspect he will be have to be careful about those campaign ads, to hit just the right tone.
The Ohio GOP has not learned a thing... still promoting typical old fashioned politicians. No true new "for the people" faces. example, Their endorsement for the 16th district US Congressional seat accidentally forgot to pay his income tax and we have no idea where he stands on the 2nd Amendment, secure borders, illegals, etc.. WE ARE ASKED TO JUST TRUST THEIR PICKS... Our current Republican United States senator votes with the Dems as much as his own party and stated publicly that he "will not be influenced by his constituents" WE DON'T NEED ANY MORE ON THE FENCE MODERATE REPUBLICANS.
But just trust the GOP... NOT THIS TIME BUB.
I have been a loyal registered Republican all my life BUT I AM TIRED OF THE DEM AND GOP GOOD OLE BOY BUNCH THAT IS OUT FOR THEMSELVES, NOT THE PEOPLE.