by Edward L. Daley Â
Tune your television to any political talk show during this venomous electoral season, and you're bound to hear a bunch of pundits speculating on the future of the Republican party. Even before the Mark Foley e-diddling scandal broke a couple of weeks ago, conventional wisdom held that the GOP was headed for a seriously weakened majority presence in Congress, and perhaps even minority status in one of the two houses.
For the first time in quite a while I've found myself agreeing with the conclusions of most political prognosticators on tv, yet I disagree with the reasons they usually give for the Republicans' decline in popularity. You see, the thing about conventional wisdom is that the truly wise among us have little to do with its evolution. The fact that the majority of opinion-meisters and political junkies sometimes reach the right conclusion, doesn't mean that the logic they've used to get there is sound. Their ability to occasionally place the right bet has more to do with the law of averages than anything else. Any blackjack dealer in Vegas will tell you that if you hold on 15 every time it's dealt to you, eventually the house will bust on a hit to a lower hand, but doing that doesn't make you a shrewd card player.
Again and again we've heard that the primary reasons why the GOP is in trouble is because its leadership supports an unpopular war, or because it has failed to reach out to "moderates" within the American voter base. And, of course, most recently a new element has been added to the equation, which is the notion that Congressional Republicans are all conspirators in some evil plot to molest children.
None of this twaddle has any basis in reality, it's just more useless conjecture from the ever-deteriorating Jurassic media, but it gets a lot of folks worked up into a snit, so in the absence of any genuinely thoughtful analysis, rhetoric such as this continues to get peddled as the truth. Just as color blind people rely on the positions of the signal lights on a traffic semaphore to inform them of when to stop, slow down, or go, the drive-by press relies on equally limited vision in the arena of political discourse to tell them what is real and what isn't. Transpose the red and green lights at an intersection, and eventually some unfortunate, color-blind driver will end up slamming his car into a crosstown bus. Replace common-sense thinking with biased assumptions, and people like Chris Matthews will be unable to avoid repeated head-on collisions with reality.
Even though practically every news agency in the country remains fixated on the Congressional Page scandal for the moment, no rational person is going to vote Democrat this year because they think all Republicans condone homosexual pedophelia, or because they believe that the party of Bill Clinton, Robert Byrd, and Gerry Studds has suddenly become a fountainhead of morality. No, the average American voter is a little smarter than that, no matter what the pollsters would have us believe.
As for the war, the majority of U.S. citizens may not be happy with the way things are going in Iraq at the present time, but when you ask them if the Democrats would do a better job of handling that particular situation, the answer is a resounding no! Apparently, even though things aren't going as well over there as we'd like them to, most Americans aren't ready to throw in the towel just yet, and they know that if the Democrats had their way, that's exactly what would happen.
Regardless of what you may hear on television these days, the only thing you have to do in order to figure out why the GOP doesn't have the backing it once did, is to ask the people who make up its foundation what they think. I've been doing just that for the past year or more, and I can tell you with a reasonable amount of certainty that conservatives believe they are no longer being represented, either by Congress or the President, and THAT is why the Republican party is in trouble.
Remember in 2004 when every right-wing talking head was saying that the Democrats were only interested in voting AGAINST George W. Bush, not FOR anything? I certainly couldn't argue with that assessment at the time, and all I'm asking now is what have the Republicans done in recent years that should motivate me to vote FOR them in November? Let's see, they've increased domestic spending by leaps and bounds... violated the First Amendment to the Constitution via the McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act... allowed a commission on the 9/11 atrocities to be formed that was so riddled with corrupt leftists that its findings aren't worth the paper they're printed on... turned a blind eye to the massive illegal alien problem facing our nation, until public opinion forced them to draft legislation that sorta, kinda deals with the issue... and caved into pressure from the left to treat captured terrorists as if they were nothing but rambunctious Boy Scouts!
Gee, that's real inspiring stuff, no?
Sure, the Bush tax cuts were a nice change of pace back in 2001, and in spite of the high price of gasoline over the past couple of years, our economy keeps humming along at an impressive clip, but what about the ever-rising cost of health insurance, the inevitable collapse of the Social Security system, or the deplorable state of our public schools? It's easy enough to blame our government's inability to correct these problems on Democrat obstructionism, but the fact remains that the leadership of the GOP has failed repeatedly to pressure its more left-leaning members to vote for the kind of proposals that the vast majority of Republicans support.
Should every right-wing voter in the country just bite the bullet one more time, and reelect the same public officials who have proved again and again that they are incapable of advancing the conservative agenda in Congress, or should we send the GOP a message that we refuse to settle for incompetence, no matter how much worse a Democrat-controlled Congress may prove to be? The Republican party has spent the last few years politically alienating me and everyone like me, and now we're all supposed to believe that everything will be sunshine and lollipops if we just "stay the course?"
Yeah right, and if I click my heels together three times and say the words "there's no place like home", I'll wake up tomorrow in an America where honor, integrity, and statesmanship have replaced political correctness, media soundbites, and mindless partisan rhetoric.
Maybe losing the House of Representatives for a couple of years is exactly what the Republican party needs to wake it up and give it a great big shove back toward its conservative roots. Ronald Reagan didn't win by the biggest landslide in electoral history by kissing up to liberals, and neither will any future Republican candidate. Retaining control of both houses of Congress this time around may only serve to embolden the more "moderate" (aka liberal) elements within the GOP, while further estranging its right-wing base, and if that happens, Republicans can kiss the White House good-bye in 2008.