Democrats should note something curious and chilling among many conservative commentators after the November 2006 election: few were genuinely unhappy with Republicans losing power.
Democrats should note something curious and chilling among many conservative commentators after the November 2006 election: few were genuinely unhappy with Republicans losing power. There seemed to be a general consensus that Republicans had abandoned conservative principles, become corrupt from holding power too long, and tried to buy elections the way the Democrats did for so long.
Republicans had become virtually obsessed with doing “something” about any problem, despite the ability of Democrats to filibuster anything in the Senate and with doing anything to hold onto power, even if the majority had men like Mark Foley and Duke Cunningham or if coherent programs, like the Contract With America, were forgotten.
Americans will expect things to change in Washington. Woe to Democrats in Congress if nothing changes or if things change for the worse. Woe to Democrats if stories of corruption begin to seep out – making John Murtha as House Majority Leader is a sign of how quickly things could change – and the American people see the Democrats in Washington as more corrupt, not less corrupt, than the Republicans they replaced.
The pressure on Pelosi and Reid to accomplish something will be immense, and they will not be able to do anything without the support of conservative Democrats in their own caucus, Republicans allowing votes in the Senate, and President Bush signing legislation. What that may mean, perversely, is that many initiatives that conservatives have supported may actually pass so that the Democrat leadership can claim some legislative victories.
Like what? This may be the ideal time for tax simplification, something conservatives would love. The issue itself is less ideological than practical, and the long term benefits to the economy would be great. This may be the ideal time for legislation that would reign in an executive branch of government which has long since exceeded its constitutional authority, again something that conservatives should applaud and welcome.
What better time, also, to truly reduce the size of the federal budget? Lacking the power to distribute pork, Republicans have very little incentive to approve budgets that are too fat. With small majorities in both Houses, Democrats have the appearance of control with few of the powers of control. President Bush could easily sustain a veto of a federal budget that was too big and too fat. If that caused a government shutdown, President Bush would probably win the popularity battle and Democrats, not he, would blink.
This could also be an ideal time to restore power to state governments. Democrats who won a majority of governorships in November, as well as gaining seats in state legislatures, could pressure federally elected Democrats to support a return of power to states, and conservatives could be expected to support that as well.
What better time, too, to call for the Democrat plan to fix Social Security? Republicans could even announce their willingness to support any sensible plan for a comprehensive reform of Social Security proposed by the Democrat leadership. President Bush could also publicly call for the Democrat plan and if Democrats deny that there is a problem, haul out many Democrats who would disagree.
Much of the Democrat case for gaining power is that government had become too powerful and intrusive. Why not propose a new bill of rights for citizens against government oppression? Would Democrats, who do not control the executive branch, oppose that? If so, why?
This would also be a perfect time for Republicans to call, as I have many times in my articles, for a federal statute that ends all partisan gerrymandering of congressional and state legislative districts. Democrats, who may well lose state legislatures in the next two elections, would face the dilemma of opposing that reform and risk losing the gerrymandering argument (as well as many moderate voters) forever, or of enacting a real, good and permanent reform in our political system.
Democrats have been out of power for a long time. Their leaders are shaky, to say the least. Their majorities are tiny (considering how many freshmen Democrats were elected in House districts gerrymandered to elect Republicans.) Now is not the time for Republicans, much less conservatives, to retreat or even reflect too much. Now is the time to attack. November 2006 was nothing but lemons for Republicans. Conservatives should take the lemons and turn them into lemonade.
Bruce Walker has been a published author in print and in electronic media since 1990. He is a regular contributor to WebCommentary, Conservative Truth, American Daily, Enter Stage Right, Intellectual Conservative, NewsByUs and MenÕs News Daily. His first book, Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie by Outskirts Press was published in January 2006.