Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Feeling a little blue?

If you’re feeling a bit down after last night’s election results (about which I have decidedly mixed feelings), here are some positive things to consider.

The Democrats did not win. The Republicans lost. What does this mean? In non presidential off year elections voters typically do not vote for or against the opposition party. They vote for or against the party in power. Last nights election was not a mandate for the Democrats. It was a referendum on the Republicans in which they were justly found wanting for various reasons I have identified elsewhere. The Democrats will now be expected to do a better job than the party they have replaced in the next two years.

I said in my previous essay that I felt the Republicans had lost touch with what they were sent to Washington to do, and that maybe a couple years in the minority would help get them back on track. This election does not have to be seen as the complete disaster some are portraying it as. It can be an opportunity to reorganize the party, get some new blood into leadership positions, and make some changes that need to be made while frankly admitting that we lost the election for a variety of reasons at least some of which were valid criticisms of Republican stewardship. In the wake of last night’s events no member of the Republican congressional leadership should feel any sense of job security. Those who want to keep their jobs should be made to answer some tough questions about their conduct in the leadership. And I am also pleased that Denny Hastert appears at this writing to have decided not to seek election as minority leader. I believe he is generally a decent man but as the Speaker of the House he bears a heavy degree of responsibility for last night and also for the very lack luster performance in so many areas of the Republican majority over the last two years. His decision to step aside is an honorable one.

If the current election results hold up, the Democrats will have gained 27 seats (mostly in the liberal North East) in the House of Representatives giving them a 12 seat majority. In the Senate if current trends in Montana and Virginia hold (and I think they will) the Democrats will have won 8 of the 9 Senate races that were projected to be in play (meaning they could have gone either way). That would be a net gain of 6 seats giving the Dems a razor thin majority in the Senate. In short, they will be running Congress. But they will not have an election proof majority, nor will they have the kind of majority that will allow them to ignore moderate or conservative Democrats. And of course they are not even remotely close to a veto proof majority. They are a party that is heavily divided between its left wing which wants a highly partisan agenda and radical measures taken on the one hand and more moderate and even conservative members who are unlikely to back a radical liberal agenda. Speaker presumptive Ms. Pelosi will have a very delicate balancing act to work on for the next two years.

Additionally I was generally heartened by the president’s response to the elections. He was frank in admitting that it was a defeat, and also in taking his share of the blame. His decision to sack Donald Rumsfeld (long over due) was a bold move on the morning after taking the worst electoral shellacking (for Republicans) since 1974. It signals several things. First, that the president is not tone deaf. He heard the message loud and clear. Secondly that he places the interest of the country over politics or friendship. Rumsfeld had no credibility with the new majority in Congress and it would have been extremely difficult for him to function as Secretary of Defense with such overt hostility to him. And thirdly his choice for a replacement indicates that the president is moving away from the neo-cons who got us into this mess and in a potentially more realistic direction. How far this will go remains to be seen. But it certainly is the most public defeat that the Vice President has suffered in a long time. Rumsfeld was Dick’s boy. And his departure may signal a sharp drop in the Vice President’s stock. Finally it was also a great political move. On the day after a stunning defeat, the president has stolen some of the Democrat’s thunder. People, are at least for today, talking about the President as much as or maybe more than the Democrats. And that’s pretty impressive after last night.

A final note: At today’s press conference President Bush said that there are no “do overs” in an election. He is wrong. The do over is scheduled for November 4th 2008. Next time around the election will not be about a Republican congressional majority or George W Bush who will be leaving office. It will be about what the Democrats have to offer in their presidential candidate and their track record as the majority party in Congress. So everyone take a deep breath. The sun rose this morning in the east exactly on schedule, and I am reliably informed it will set again tonight in the west also on schedule. The sun is shining and it’s a generally nice day (where I am living). I may take a walk and enjoy a little fresh air.


Rusty said...

I can't wait for Justice Stevens to retires in the next two years and see the people like yourself astounded at the type of person that Bush will be forced to nominate.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Justice Stevens may or may not retire in the next two years. Perhaps you have information I am not privy to. That said, it is not enough of a justification for keeping the pack of incompetents and crooks who have been running Congress in office. The willingness of some to excuse or overlook the horrible conduct of the majority party over the last 2 (and one could argue longer) years in the name of political expediency is more than a little disturbing.

Ad Orientem

Seraph said...

Besides, even if Justice Stevens retired immediately and a conservative justice were appointed to SCOTUS, and Roe v. Wade were overturned, the whole question would just revert back to the states for more bloody battles.

What we really need in America is not better laws, it is personal and national repentance and conversion, beginning perhaps with the small remnant of Christian believers who read this blog.