Monday, September 18, 2006

The Good News is Bad

The Moose comments on the virtue of losing.

There is sudden bad news for the GOP right - Republicans may be experience a rebound in Congressional races. Yes, you read that right. Lately, conservatives have been celebrating defeat , and their plans may be thwarted by a comeback.

Conservatives are feeling betrayed by Republican governance. GOP rule has proven to be just as corrupt and unprincipled as Democratic rule. Evidently, incumbent protection is in the Capitol water-cooler.

Ramesh Ponnuru wrote about this winning by losing thesis last week in the New York Times,

"A straight loss, on the other hand, would make the Republicans hungrier and sharpen their wits. Freed from the obligation of cobbling together thin majorities for watered-down legislation, Republicans would be able to stand for something attractive."

And the Washington Monthly features the writings of seven prominent conservatives calling for the elephant to lose.

Surely, the White House does not share the conservative desire for Republicans to become a congressional minority. A whole new generation of Republican Administration officials will learn the meaning of a "Dingell-gram" from the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Ultimately, of course, the objective of politics is power. But, is it possible to take loses in the short term in order to advance for the long term? The essence of the conservative case for defeat is that Democrats will over-reach in power. Would Democrats pursue impeachment? Presumably, cooler heads would prevail. And if Democrats take control, their narrow majority would prevent them from moving ultra-liberal legislation.

But, there is a potential problem for Democrats in a November triumph. The left in the party will be emboldened and long-standing problems in the party will not be addressed. That is true at the moment when much of the party seems only motivated by Bush rage. Ponnuru addressed this potential Democratic weakness,

"Winning in 2006 will make it harder for Democrats to address their long-term structural problems. It has happened before. They confused the Watergate landslide of 1974 for a mandate to embrace McGovernism for 20 years. If they win because of high gas prices, bad war news and conservative discontent now, they will be less likely to adopt new approaches to national security and social issues. That, too, will help Republicans in 2008."

The Moose urges all politicos to curb their enthusiasm. As much that is at stake in 2006, the election does not matter that much. Regardless of the outcome in November, the American people aren't particularly thrilled with either party.

The question of the moment is which party will reform itself to appeal to a broader swath of the electorate in 2008, and be able to both win the Presidency and govern with a strong bi-partisan majority?
-- Posted at 8:39 AM | Link to this post | Email this post