Wednesday Morning Quarterback: The Election to Save the Republic

Though a fair amount of things that I care about, particularly here in California, remain undecided (as of 10:30 pm on Wednesday night), the reality is that the most important thing I want to write about regarding tonight’s glorious election results is now fully known.  And I have a point I want to emphatically make …

I am going to use this post to recap some thoughts that are very important to me regarding the national election results.  I am going to wait until tomorrow to write about the California results.  First of all, a great deal of California’s action is still pending.  But more importantly, I feel like the major thesis of this post is important (regarding the national picture), and I do not want to co-mingle it with the equally important post I will be writing about the God-forsaken state of California (in which I reside, for now).

We will not know the exact number until the morning, but tonight was a bloodbath straight from the Democrat’s worst nightmare as it pertains to the House of Representatives.  All indications are that the final number will be that no less than sixty seats in the House that Republicans take from the Democrats, surpassing even the historical success that the GOP had in 1994.  We also know that the Republicans are picking up substantial seats in the Senate as well, though not enough to have the technical majority.

My position is that this is the very best of scenarios for conservative Republicans, and I want to tell you why.

First things first: While many folks may have been hoping that Fiorina beat Boxer (in California), or Raese beat Manchin (in West Virginia), we certainly have no rational reason to have believed it was going to happen.  So despite the spin, there was always an extremely tough road to hoe in terms of basic mathematics to take a 60-40 Senate to 50-50.  But the Dems were actually trounced in the Senate just as badly as they were in the House for students of political history.

First of all, a comment on the aforementioned West Virginia.  The new Democratic Senator from the overwhelmingly Democratic state is Joe Manchin, who replaces the deceased Robert Byrd.  The hyper-conservative (and brilliant) think tank, the Cato Institute, called Manchin “the fourth most fiscally conservative Governor in the country”.  His voting record proves it.  Robert Byrd was a statist, through and through.  We replaced a liberal Democrat with a conservative Democrat, at least on a relative basis.

Secondly, I know there had been a lot of discussion about the GOP voters in Delaware nominating tea partier Christine O’Donnell over Mike Castle, and the role this decision would possibly play in keeping the Senate with the Democrats.   Well, this race was not the tie-breaker as we now know (in fact, the GOP did not even oust the wildly unpopular Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid).  But there is a major advantage in what happened here that Republicans are failing to understand: Mike Castle, the Republican hopeful in the primary, was an utter disaster.  I have heard Republicans tout the fact that he had a 56% score from the American Conservative Union, and I confess that if 56% is something we are to celebrate, my dad too hard on me in school.  But there is a larger issue here that is particularly important here and now: This entire election was a referendum on irresponsible government, on reckless spending, and on hypocritical leadership.  If Mike Castle were allowed to be a representative for the Republican party in 2010, it would be a symbolic gesture that we still celebrate (or tolerate) unorthodoxy in our midst.  There are many, many issues, both ideologically and politically, that allow for a “big tent” (I hate that term).  Cap & Trade was not one of them.  There is absolutely no such thing as a Republican who supported cap & trade.  Mike Castle voted for it.  I am glad he is gone.  I am mystified that someone as completely looney as Christine O’Donnell was the person to do it, but we all know that no Senator in the state of Delaware (who can win) is going to be a good representative of the basic orthodoxies of Republicanism (at least for now).  I concur that Castle was an incremental improvement over Chris Coons (the Democrat who won), but I am as certain as can be that at this point in time, the greater benefit of protecting and improving the Republican brand is more important than this one seat.  We deserve better people receiving our nominations than Mike Castle, even if it means losing a seat in Delaware, which we obviously do not deserve to win.  I see both sides of this issue, but I am resolved that this is not something to lament.  We do not seek two-year or four-year improvements (only) in our party and in our country; we want generational change.  Mike Castle was a classic “one-step forward; two-step back” candidate.  I will lose no sleep over this one.

So here is the real point I started off wanting to make in this article: President Obama can not say now, “the Republicans in the Senate and House are blocking all the wonderful things I want to do”.  But, the Republicans in the House CAN say “that Democratic White House and Democratic Senate are obstructing what we want to do”.  Obama’s 2012 dream was to water down this reversal of fortunes for his party among the mood of the electorate by blaming the things that do not go well over the next two years on Republicans.  The reality is that the Republicans tonight got the best of both worlds: the ability to dramatically change the legislative direction of this country (we have our filibuster-protection back  now, and we even brought in some major, major players as new lawmakers ).  The one or two or three vote majority the Dems hold onto in the Senate is not very consequential legislatively, and yet politically it is disastrous for the Senate.  The major issues that voters care about can not now be pegged on “Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress”; this is a true handicap to the Obama administration.  I have no doubt in my mind that Obama would have preferred to see a Republican majority in the Senate (by just one vote) when he considers what he is up against in 2012.  In an ironic sort of way, the House Republicans who just took back the Congress with passion can still play the underdog card all the way through 2012 (“look at what those Dems in the Senate and Obama are doing to hold back our efforts to bring about change”).  We would have lost this angle had we won a technical majority in the Senate (no pun intended), and yet we actually have the functional number we need anyways.  And as for a good portion of issues (not all), Joe Lieberman is frequently a reliable vote (depending on the category of issue) for Republicans, and I have already discussed the reputation Manchin has in West Virginia (who campaigned as if he was Ronald Reagan). 

The conquest of the night belongs to the outstanding efforts of Americans all over this country who fought for the principles of limited government and freedom that we believe in.  New House Speaker, John Boehner, gave a positively perfect speech tonight, and he deserves immense credit for not allowing the Republicans to campaign as willy-nilly “reach across the aisle” sissies.  Bipartisanship is a dangerous, and cruel, joke.  I am all for bipartisanship, if the thing I am supposed to be cooperating with is not going to ruin the country.  But talking about our ability to play nice with Democrats when they are passing a multi-trillion dollar health care bill under our noses that is so laden with pork and bribes and taxes and mandates it is sickening, well, if that is “bipartisanship”, then forget it.  Boehner kept us on track, and I am excited to see how he will do as Speaker.  I am optimistic.

I always want to congratulate my friend, Pat Toomey, in the great state of Pennsylvania, who is going to be a remarkable lawmaker.  He is a lover and defender of freedom, and he held back a nasty campaign effort by a capable candidate in Sestak to win this very tight race.  And before he won tonight, he did something no one had been able to do for over thirty years: Make that SOB Arlen Specter admit he was a spineless Democrat.  So now, we have Pat Toomey in the Senate, and Arlen Specter in retirement.  That is a good trade, my friends.

We knew Marco Rubio was going to be the Senator from Florida several weeks ago.  And it is a common theme to hear what a “big future” this young man has.  He is a handsome, articulate Cuban-American, but let’s get beyond the superficial: He also is extremely intelligent, and devoted to the doctrines of American Exceptionalism and private enterprise that we so desperately need.  And tonight, we should not just celebrate his win, but the delightful decimation of the contemptible Charlie Crist, who deserves no respect and no graciousness tonight.  The man is a walking symbol of everything that is wrong with politics today, and our country will be better off if he leaves the public arena forever and ever.  And for all the RINO-loving willy-nillies who are so afraid of losing elections, remember the story of Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist.  Because this isn’t the last story that will look like this one.

Every place President Obama focused on in the campaign became a source of intense Republican celebration tonight.  This is not coincidental.  The President’s agenda was b-slapped all over the country in nearly every single part of America besides the Public Employee Union’s Republic of California.  If this clear and and indisputable fact does not tell you that Obama’s mandate was a myth, his approach an offense to the American people, and his performance one that received a resounding “F”, you are intellectually dishonest.  There is an almost direct correlation to where he campaigned the hardest in Congressional races and where Dems took the most disappointing losses.  No President in American history has more dramatically misread his “mandate”.  Sadly, tonight will not change that. 

I am excited to fine tune some details tomorrow on exactly how all this netted out.  And I am even more excited to write about the state of California, where all good sense goes to die.  But all I can say about tonight is that the republic is not yet lost.  Today, millions and millions of Americans looked at what has happened the last two years, and said, “We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it any more.”  I do not care if you are a Republican or a Democrat, somewhere tonight, I hope the message has gotten through that we are not Western Europe, and we are not going to spend our way into Greek and French riots in this country.  There is so much work to be done, it is almost absurd to celebrate.  There are no victory laps for those of us who believe in the vision for this country that our founders had – one in which the natural rights of men recognized, and prosperity held up as an ideal, not something to be scorned and lamented.  But in the most generic of senses, at least tonight, I can see the city on the hill again.  It is out in the distance, but I can see it.  And there is still work to be done.