Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Missed It By That Much

Well that was fun.

There's nothing else you can call it--the Republicans got beaten like the wife of a guy in a sleeveless undershirt on "Cops." Of course, I'm convinced that it's all part of evil-genius Karl Rove's master plan. He and President Bush masterminded the wildly successful alienate-the-base strategy as a way of giving up the House and the Senate, thus paving the road for a Hillary Clinton presidency which will be a miasma, ultimately setting the Republicans up for big wins in 2012. They've got it all under control, and are working from the master playbook.

The media is interpreting the election as being a referendum on the Iraq war. That's a simple explanation, but perhaps too simple. It may well be the explanation for why Democrats turned out so heavily, but there is a concurrent explanation for why Republicans did so badly. I did go to the polls and vote conservative yesterday (or at least as "conservative" as I could vote given who was actually on the ballot), but I never felt anything more than a sense of duty about it. There was no excitement, no anticipation, no sense of getting to be part of something great as in the last few elections. It was mainly apathy, barely overcome by duty. So I have to wonder how many conservatives' senses of apathy weren't overcome by a sense of duty. How many just couldn't bring themselves to be excited and moved on to other things? I suspect that it was millions.

Even with the Iraq war going badly (and all but the most impervious partisan hacks have to admit that it is), if Republicans were cutting spending and actively working to close the borders--you know, being conservative--they'd have won in a landslide. Think about that: Republicans were getting hammered by Democrats in the campaign on spending and immigration.

Two years ago, I wrote this now-amusing sentence:
[The 2004] election, following on the heels of the 2002 shocker, might very well be the death knell of the Democrat Party as a significant national force.
It looks amusing and quaint now. In 2004, the Democrats had gone further and further to the Left and gotten spanked, and I failed to foresee the Bush Administration's wildly erratic behavior over the following two years, from Harriet Miers (in which the administration accused its base of sexism) to the immigration debacle, to the disastrous near-deal to sell our ports to the United Arab Emirates (in which the administration accused its base of racism).

My suspicion is that Republicans are going to try to move to the Left as a result of this election (pointing to the defeats of swing-staters Jim Talent and Rick Santorum as justification), culminating in the nomination of John McCain for president in 2008. If they do, it will officially mark the end of the Republicans' 21st century dominance, as conservative and evangelical voters will have even more reason to sit it out.

If they're smart, however (and I frankly see no evidence of that), they'll see this as a well-timed wakeup call to begin becoming conservative again to reinvigorate their underwhelmed base. Fortunately for them, this was not a presidential election year. They still have time to right the ship (and it does need to be turned Right) in time to avert an era of disaster.

We'll see what they decide to do. I'm not optimistic.

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