Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It's Time for Them (Republicans) To Go

Washington Monthly, (which is a liberal magazine) has an interesting series of articles by conservatives that are looking forward to seeing the GOP lost control of Congress because the movement has lost its way. I haven't read all of the articles, but here a sampling of what I read so far.

The first is by Jeffrey Hart, a former speech writer for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan:

The United States has seen political swings and produced its share of extremists, but its political character, whether liberals or conservatives have been in charge, has always remained fundamentally Burkean. The Constitution itself is a Burkean document, one that slows down decisions to allow for “deliberate sense” and checks and balances. President Bush has nearly upended that tradition, abandoning traditional realism in favor of a warped and incoherent brand of idealism. (No wonder Bush supporter Fred Barnes has praised him as a radical.) At this dangerous point in history, we must depend on the decisions of an astonishingly feckless chief executive: an empty vessel filled with equal parts Rove and Rousseau.

Successful government by either Democrats or Republicans has always been, above all, realistic. FDR, Eisenhower, and Reagan were all reelected by landslides and rank as great presidents who responded to the world as it is, not the world as they would have it. But ideological government deserves rejection, whatever its party affiliation. This November, the Republicans stand to face a tsunami of rejection. They’ve earned it.

While Hart takes a more philisophical viewpoint, former congressman Joe Scarborough shoots from the hip:

During the 1990s, conservative Republicans and the Clinton White House somehow managed to balance the budget while winning two wars, reforming welfare, and conducting an awesome impeachment trial focused on oral sex and a stained Gap dress.

The fact that both parties hated each another was healthy for our republic’s bottom line. A Democratic president who hates a Republican appropriations chairman is less likely to sign off on funding for the Midland Maggot Festival being held in the chairman’s home district. Soon, budget negotiations become nasty, brutish, and short and devolve into the legislative equivalent of Detroit, where only the strong survive.

But in Bush’s Washington, the capital is a much clubbier place where everyone in the White House knows someone on the Hill who worked with the Old Man, summered in Maine, or pledged DKE at Yale. The result? Chummy relationships, no vetoes, and record-breaking debts.

Finally, Bruce Bartlett thinks a GOP loss this year will good for the Republican party in the long run and also force the Democrats to show its cards:

Divided government has... advantages... For one, it restrains government spending. The budget surpluses of the late 1990s resulted mainly from Bill Clinton’s unwillingness to support the Republican Congress’s priorities and its unwillingness to support his. For another, it improves our foreign policy. We had divided government during 36 of 55 years between 1947 and 2001, which meant that both parties had to take responsibility for the wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq (the first one). America is much more effective in the international arena when it has a high degree of bipartisanship in its foreign policy. In the not-too-distant past, Republicans including Arthur Vandenberg and Democrats including Daniel Patrick Moynihan understood this. With the current war in Iraq, however, Democrats who support the war are forced to oppose it, and Republicans who oppose the war are forced to support it. This makes other countries unsure of our resolve and commitments.

Those who worry that divided government would compromise our efforts in Iraq shouldn’t be overly concerned. As the minority party, Democrats today are free to criticize our efforts in Iraq without having to offer constructive alternatives. But put them in the majority, and they’ll suddenly have to put up or shut up. Let them defund the war and implement an immediate pullout if that’s what they really think we should do. At least it would force the administration to explain itself better and face some oversight, for which the Republican Congress has essentially abrogated all responsibility. Polls will quickly indicate which side has made the better case.

Finally, on a purely partisan level, I believe that loss of one or both houses will strengthen the Republican Party going into 2008. It will force a debate on issues that have been swept under the rug, such out-of-control government spending and the coziness between Republicans and K Street, home of Washington’s lobbying community. Afterwards, the party will emerge stronger, with better arguments for keeping control of the White House. Also, Democrats may well be placed under so much pressure from their left-wing fringe that they’ll be forced into politically self-destructive acts such as trying to impeach President Bush. Every Republican I know thinks Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are the best things they have going for them. Giving these inept leaders higher profiles would be a gift to conservatives everywhere.

Losing might be the best way to get the GOP back to its conservative roots. We will see come November.


Michael Smith said...

I think you’re right that the Republicans risk a sharp loss, but I’m not sure they’ll take away the right message. I’m worried that they will simply excuse it away as a backlash over Iraq and dig in further on the social conservatism. Then after two more years of self-righteous head butting with a possibly split legislature they’ll blame the lack of productivity on obstructionist Democrats. When you’re convinced that you hold the moral high ground and that dissent is unpatriotic, it’s nearly impossible to recognize any internal faults.

They could then get smacked down hard in 2008, and on a broader basis including the Presidency. I hope that more rational heads prevail, but I’m not optimistic. We need a return to traditional conservative principles, but much more moderation in the conduct of government and civility in the debate.

Chesty said...

What I fear is that a lot of Pat Buchanan-types are going to say "See? You didn't listen to us on getting a flag-burning amendment, or gay marriage ban, or a big wall erected along the Rio Grande, and so we stayed home. THAT'S why you lost control of Congress". And There are enough morons in the Party's hierarchy right now that will actually believe THAT, as opposed to the idea that people have just become sick of the things this administration has one wrong.

Regardless, I am still ofthe mind that the GOP needs a good bloody nose this November. The only way to get any improvement on what we'reat now is by losing an election, and I'd rather it was this one that 2008, when McCain will (God willing) be the candidate.