Thursday, November 06, 2008

Things to take consolation from

Now that the election is over and Obama and the democrats won, there are still some things that Republicans can take solace from. Some of them are pretty meager but you take what you can get.

First there is the big one - the Democrats didn't win as big as they could have. There are still enough Republicans in the Senate to filibuster. Likewise, Obama won convincingly but his margin of victory was typical - somewhere between Bush jr's win in 2004 and Bush sr's win in 1988 or Clinton in 1992 and 1996. It was way short of Reagan's win in 1984.

So, the country has not made a dramatic shift to the left. Republicans still have a shot at the White House and Congress, especially when they are not weighed down by an unpopular president.

That brings me to the second point - the Democrats are now in charge. They cannot blame the Republicans for anything. I know that they will try. They will insist that they inherited unsolvable problems brought on by Bush. The public will cut them some slack for a year or two but they were elected to solve problems. If they don't come up with results quickly then they get the blame.

Which brings me to the fun part. It can be frustrating to be on the outside of government looking in but it is also easier. Just ask Rush Limbaugh. When your side is in power then you end up carrying a lot of water for them. This works for the other side, as well. Back in the late 1990s the opening monologues of shows like Politically Incorrect and the Daily Show came straight from the Democratic Message of the Day. Did these comedians really enjoy saying that lying under oath is the same as telling stories in a locker room? Come January, they are going to be stuck making excuses for the Obama administration. No more cheap applause lines ("When Bush and Cheney get together they kill puppies."). Now the right gets to make cheap shots.

Let's face it, a McCain administration wasn't going to be good for the Republicans. By the end of the campaign he was promising more federal bailouts and budget deficits than Obama. It's hard to be the party of fiscal restraint when your top guy is in a bidding war with the Democrats. The economy has been getting worse but so far it hasn't affected everyday people much. This will change over the next year or two and no one can stop it. If McCain was in the White House then Republicans would get the blame in the 2010 election. With Obama as president then Democrats will probably lose some seats and the Republicans can start rebuilding.

This segues into my next point - it's time to rebuild a conservative coalition and that could not be done with Bush of McCain in the White House. Bush and Rove wrecked the Reagan coalition of social conservatives and fiscal conservative. They figured that there are no votes in cutting government so they expanded it. A lot. By every measure, government is bigger than it was when Clinton left office. It was so bad that the Democrats ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility in 2006 (this was quietly dropped for 2008). Since he didn't appeal to a wide coalition, Bush barely won his elections. McCain appealed to pretty much the same crowd but couldn't pull in the same numbers.

With tax and spend Democrats in charge, Republicans need to reassert themselves as the party that keeps government off your back. This means turning their back on No Child Left Behind and some other accomplishments of the Bush administration. These didn't help Bush's popularity so they should be little loss.

One final consolation. As of this writing, Al Frankin lost the most expensive senate race in history by a narrow vote.

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