Congrats! Now Our Real Work Begins

November 3rd, 2010 at 1:10 am David Frum | 120 Comments |

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Stephen Colbert opened his interview by rolling tape from 2 years ago, on the eve of the 2008 presidential election. There I was, warning that the GOP had no future as the party of Palin. And here we are, 2 years later, the party of Palin – and winning a crushing victory. Colbert pointedly asked, “So how does it feel to be completely wrong?”

But it was true then, and true now.

Tonight’s results are an opportunity and a challenge: an opportunity to rebalance and redirect American politics – but also a challenge to do a better job governing than Americans have experienced these past 10 years. From 9/11 to the stimulus, almost everything Washington has done has gone wrong: stagnant incomes, unsuccessful wars, financial crisis, unemployment, foreclosures.

Now it’s again a Republican turn, or partly a Republican turn. What do we have to offer? Tax cuts plus Medicare spending? More angry accusations? Investigations? Gridlock? Shutdowns? Impeachment?

Tea Party Republicanism had a big outing tonight, much bigger than I’d have thought possible. So it’s fair to say to me: You were wrong. You thought that nominating people like Rand Paul and Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell and Ken Buck would be a formula for disaster, but see – we got away with it, more or less. Except we didn’t get away with it. The people who inflicted Angle and O’Donnell on the GOP threw away ridiculously winnable Senate seats. We’ll see how Joe Miller and Ken Buck do in the later morning hours.

Will there be accountability for these self-inflicted disasters? It’s one thing to lose an election over principle. But what principle requires the nomination of the inept and the arrogant? Here are candidates who declare that they are running to defend freedom from Kenyan Marxist fascism and then refuse to answer questions from reporters – or outright order reporters arrested.

You cannot build a party this way, you cannot govern the country this way. And while O’Donnell and Angle and Paul remain (thank God) untypical of the GOP, their followers have imposed self-destructive limits on Republican thought and action. Republicans have come to power in the midst of the worst economic crisis since World War II without an economic plan – that is, beyond preserving the tax cuts which failed to prevent the crisis in the first place. We have fielded an impressively diverse slate of candidates, while simultaneously repelling the minority and youth voters such candidates should have attracted.

Which is why I believe at this hour of Tea Party triumphalism that the mission of this site has become more urgent than ever. A party of Palinite resentment and Rand Paul conspiracism cannot win and should not win.

More than ever we need a culturally modern Republicanism to represent the whole nation – that governs in the interests of the many, not the few – that can solve social problems at a cost within the nation’s means.

The work of building that alternative continues. And we recommit to that work tonight.

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120 Comments so far ↓

  • pnumi2

    sinz54

    Now, now, sinz, don’t take this personally, you didn’t invent the Tea Party, no one is blaming you for claiming that the deficit is all the fault of the Democrats, that the surpluses of the late Nineties resulted from the action of the Republicans.

    Or best of all, that this whole financial disaster can be dated from when the Democrats took over the Senate and the House in 2006.

    Now,I’m sure you would never be guilty of that gross hypocracy. But many elected officials on the right say that all this crap we have today is because the Democrats had 51 seats in the Senate and 233 in the House.

    I am not the lone Liberal here who is insulted by the lies and distortion on the right. Republicans who worry about rigged elections but who haven’t a care about voter intimidation.

  • balconesfault

    The difference between the 2010 election and the 2008 election was that Obama’s coalition didn’t hold.

    No – by and large, as I pointed out elsewhere, the difference between the 2010 election and the 2008 election was that Obama’s coalition didn’t vote.

    I think that a lot of younger women, in particular, will always be easier to motivate to get out for a Presidential election – because Presidential elections are what decides who will be ruling on their reproductive freedoms into the future.

    Meanwhile – consider this. Nationally, polling on gay marriage shows about a 43-47-10 (strongly for, opposed/strongly opposed, no opinion) … while exit polls yesterday showed a 40-54-6 split. That’s a heavy tilt towards social conservatives coming out to vote – and social conservatives vote GOP.

    Will the electorate in 2012 be more socially conservative?

  • nhthinker

    balconesfault,
    What is the source of your 43-47-10 poll? Was it “adults”, “registered voters”, or “likely voters”?
    Without that information, your comparison is relatively meaningless.

  • nhthinker

    Is it voter intimidation to leave potential voters with the impression that the government could fail if it does not shrink? I would guess some liberals here would think so.

  • TerryF98

    The polling firm Rasmussen is out with a relatively shocking poll given the results of yesterday’s election. Here’s the gist:

    Hold the celebration. Most voters expected Republicans to win control of the House of Representatives on Election Day, but nearly as many expect to be disappointed with how they perform by the time the 2012 elections roll around.

    A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds, in fact, that 59% of Likely U.S. Voters think it is at least somewhat likely that most voters will be disappointed with Republicans in Congress before the next national elections. That includes 38% who say it is Very Likely.

    So even the GOP’s pollster reckons people will be disappointed with the GOP come 2012

  • balconesfault

    nhthinker:

    Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Aug. 25-Sept. 6, 2010. N=3,509 adults nationwide.

    So unless you think non-registered voters are more likely to support gay marriage (unlikely – since immigrants tend to be more conservative on this issue if anything) what this indicates is that my point is correct – the voters yesterday were significantly more socially conservative than the general population.

  • sdspringy

    David asks is this any way to build a party. Does he not have access to the current media?
    Republicans so far have won 23 out of a possible 38 Senate seats and may pick up 3 more.
    In 2012 there will be 21 Dem Senators up for reelection and only 10 Republicans.

    Not since 1928 has so many state legislatures and governorships swung to the Republicans. Think about this with the current Census redistricting coming out. What majority will be determining the new legislative districts?

    The Republicans lost how many House seats, none, no incumbent lost. The Dems lost 3 committee chairmanships. And Nancy is gone.

    Obama’s Senate seat, Republican. Kennedy’s Senate seat, Republican. Specter’s Senate Seat, Republican. With a House Republican majority California will be getting no more Federal bailout money, good luck Jerry, Nancy, Barbara.

    David a building just rose out of the ground at your very feet and you don’t see it. Any wonder Colbert seems to be a more astute political observer than you

  • easton

    The Republicans lost how many House seats, none, no incumbent lost.

    Good lord, they lost Djou in Hawaii, Cao in New Orleans, Castles seat went Blue.
    Reality check springy: in 1982 Democrats held a 269-166 advantage in the House and a 47-53 deficit in the Senate. Obama is in a much stronger position, comparatively, than Ronnie was, and Ronnie ended up alright now, didn’t he?

    And the seat that had been held by Obama is properly called Illinois Senate seat. Are you this nuts to think it is hereditary?

    I hate to say it, but it is going to be a long 2 years for you as Obamacare gets fully enshrined as law and Republicans suck wind not getting anything out of the House for Obama to even veto. Republicans are getting real delusional now.

    Obama has already passed the bulk of his agenda, and as Democrats control the Senate they can keep churning out Liberal judges.

  • pnumi2

    nhthinker // Nov 3, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Is it voter intimidation to leave potential voters with the impression that the government could fail if it does not shrink? I would guess some liberals here would think so.

    Not at all. That’s called garden variety political advertising.

    I was referring to feeling the fetid breath on the back of your neck of someone who lives miles away (maybe a different state) and who was bused into your polling place to make sure everybody’s drivers license are up to date, slowing down the process and making the lines even longer. Your example gets potential voters to the polls. My example keeps potential voters at home.

    Maybe the government won’t fail if it shrinks.

    But it probably will.

  • CD-Host

    the voters yesterday were significantly more socially conservative than the general population.

    Voters are always more conservative both socially and economically than the general population. That’s always the case. If Democrats could turn out their people in the same numbers as Republicans they would control virtually office in the US.

  • cakefan

    David,

    You’re right this is no way to build a party. Just wrong in the time line for self destruction. A midterm election in an economic downturn Republicans should be expected to win big. The fact they lost several winnable seats shows some weakness. Where you will see the chickens come home to roost is in 2012.

    The danger is in taking the wrong lesson from the election. This was not a mandate for a Republican agenda, this was not a referendum on Obama, this was an expression of anger at incumbants and dissatisfaction with how people feel. Obama remains well liked. Republicans overstepping themselves in congress will lead to a bigger swing of the pendulum back to the Democrats in 2012.

  • CD-Host

    Not since 1928 has so many state legislatures and governorships swung to the Republicans. Think about this with the current Census redistricting coming out. What majority will be determining the new legislative districts?

    Yes but they have a few too many Republicans to defend. They could probably do a better job gerrymandering if they were in slightly worse shape in the house. Oddly enough they will probably end up having to make the districts close to what they are now because they can’t just dump a rep or two to lock them in.

  • nhthinker

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/110272/registered-voters-vs-likely-voters.aspx

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/njonline/are-likely-voters-the-ones-to-watch–20100420

    The answers of the experts are the same. There is a 4-5 point shift between “adults” and “likely voters” that occurs in presidential election years and could be a bit higher in off-year elections.

    “The task of narrowing from all adults to those deemed most likely to vote usually has the effect of making the resulting sample older, wealthier and more white, since younger, minority and downscale Americans turn out to vote less often, especially in midterm elections. Since those demographic groups are also the most supportive of President Obama and the Democrats, the shift to a likely voter sample usually makes the results better for Republicans.”

    The numbers for the poll you quote are within the margin of error of the difference that would be expected in an off-year election, but it is also likely indicative of possibly 2-3% less Democratic leaning voters showed up than the normal off-year election.

    If the Republicans don’t accomplish making independents happy, then things will swing away from the Republicans.

  • nhthinker

    pnumi2 // Nov 3, 2010 at 7:50 pm
    “I was referring to feeling the fetid breath on the back of your neck of someone who lives miles away (maybe a different state) and who was bused into your polling place to make sure everybody’s drivers license are up to date, slowing down the process and making the lines even longer. Your example gets potential voters to the polls. My example keeps potential voters at home.”

    I don’t know many voters that mind’s showing required identification in order to prevent voter fraud.
    Chicago is infamous for having more votes than registered voters:

    http://www.redstate.com/soren_dayton/2010/11/02/it-has-begun-in-chicago/
    “With 24% more ballots cast than registered voters in the 14th precinct, it is hard to come up with an explanation other than stuffed ballots. At the time of this election, the Alderman was Isaac Carothers. He has since resigned and plead guilty to federal corruption charges. Von Spakovsky summarized the FBI agent as saying, “[t]hey had been taught how to steal votes (and elections) by their predecessors, who had in turn been taught by their predecessors.” In the case of Carothers, he was told to win by his father William Carothers who lost re-election in 1983 and was convicted of federal corruption charges like his son. The senior Mr. Carothers was Alderman of the 28th ward at the time of the 1982 election discussed above.”

  • Joe In NH

    I see that the first priority of the GOP is to try to repeal healthcare reform. I know lots of people think that is a good idea (though 1/3 polled recently called for a more robust government plan) but passing legislation that will not get through the Senate and then sniping at HCR over funding over and over again will be loved by the GOP base but run a real danger of turning off the middle who voted Republican this time around. People want to see change and see the country moving forward. We had to suffer through hearing about HCR for over a year. Does the GOP leadership think people want more of the same nastiness ? We are tired of the HCR issue.People want to see progress and not political games. The GOP has a mandate to get this country going and not get into another pissing contest with the White House. I bet the GOP will blow this chance.

  • nhthinker

    I expect the Republican controlled House to pass a large number of one issue bills-small simple pieces of legislation totally different than the hidden huge thousand page bills that the Democrats forced votes on before anyone had a chance to read them.

    They will dare the Senate to vote on similar simple bills. The President and Reed will try to stop the Senate from voting in similarly simple bills. Voters will put substantial pressure on the Senate to vote on them and have the President sign or veto them.

    Either way, the Republicans win the independents for 2012 because their approach will look simple and straightforward.

  • dante

    This is why the GOP is doomed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UA-16iVxBJA&feature=player_embedded

    They can’t even admit what programs they’re going to cut as they balance the budge *and* make the Bush tax cuts permanent. It’s rainbows and unicorns for EVERYBODY!!

  • Joe In NH

    I expect Obama to embrace the recommendations of the deficit commission coming out in the next 30 days. The ball will then be in the GOP’s court. The commission has the goal of figuring out how to reduce the deficit to 3% of GDP by 2015. To even get down to a 3% deficit will be quite a chore but I wonder if the GOP will dare to agree with the commission. I doubt the Tea Party will accept a rational plan to reform government spending if the plan does not call for a balanced budget before 2015,ie, almost immediately. I bet non-tea party GOP Representatives will fear being cut down in the 2012 primaries if they agree to only shooting for getting the deficit down to 3%.

  • Rabiner

    nhthinker:


    I expect the Republican controlled House to pass a large number of one issue bills-small simple pieces of legislation totally different than the hidden huge thousand page bills that the Democrats forced votes on before anyone had a chance to read them.

    They will dare the Senate to vote on similar simple bills. The President and Reed will try to stop the Senate from voting in similarly simple bills. Voters will put substantial pressure on the Senate to vote on them and have the President sign or veto them.

    Either way, the Republicans win the independents for 2012 because their approach will look simple and straightforward.”

    Perhaps because Republicans can’t comprehend how to pass any legislation that is ‘comprehensive’? I kid, somewhat.

  • nhthinker

    Rabiner,
    The average independent voter hates “comprehensive” legislation- it is usually stuffed with so many earmarks and high paying jobs for bureaucrats that most everyone can agree make them abominations of what good legislation should be.

    They are loved by the lawyer cohort and almost no one else.

    The only simple legislation that Pelosi let through were things like commemorations of national Tofu day. The Republicans will not allow any of that nonsense.