In 2006 it spelled disaster for Republicans. In 2012 it will doom the Democrats.
From John Wayne to Ronald Reagan, from the Ford Mustang to Coca-Cola, Americans seek and appreciate authentic and “real.” While authenticity is rarely spoken of regarding our politicians — in much the same way that unicorns and jackalopes are rarely spoken of in zoos — it is nevertheless an important undercurrent in American electoral politics. In 2012, the American appreciation for authenticity will spell disaster for Democratic electoral hopes.
Because of the horror that is the Obama Administration and because so many Americans have short memories, most political reminiscing over the water cooler doesn’t go back before the 2008 elections in which Republicans were swept from power in the political equivalent of what happened at Fukushima, Japan, earlier this year.
But it’s not 2008 that Republicans should be thinking about, even as we go into a presidential election year. Instead, the focus should be 2006. That was the real tsunami. In the 2006 elections,
• Democrats picked up 31 seats in the House of Representatives, turning a 232-202 Republican majority from 2004 into a 233-202 Democrat majority. (Socialist U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (VT), a registered independent, left the House in 2006 and Democrats picked up that seat as well.)
• Democrats picked up six seats in the U.S. Senate, turning a 55-45 Republican majority into a 51-49 Democrat majority (counting Sanders and Joe Lieberman (CT) as Democrats.)
• Democrats won governorships in six states which had an open seat following a Republican administration or had an incumbent Republican governor, while losing no governorships where a Democrat was the incumbent or prior office holder, flipping the balance of governorships from 28-22 Republican to 28-22 Democrat.
• Democrats gained more than 300 state legislative seats, with a 21-19 Republican lead in controlling state legislatures (the rest split or non-partisan) flipping to a 23-17 Democrat advantage.
• In addition to holding every already-Democratic governorship, Democrats won every seat the party already held in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the first time either party has done that in our nation’s history.
Yes, there were particular issues which focused peoples’ minds in 2006, including the war in Iraq and the terrible performance of the federal government following Hurricane Katrina. But I suggest to you that there were two over-riding factors: Corruption and authenticity, not necessarily in that order.
In 2006, the Democrats ran on a message of a Republican “culture of corruption,” after a series of scandals surrounding people like Congressmen Duke Cunningham, Mark Foley, and Bob Ney put an even greater than usual taint on politicians, especially GOP politicians.
In the last two years, we’ve seen scandal after scandal on the Democrat side of the aisle: Anthony Weiner, David Wu, and Eric Massa all had sex-related scandals. Charlie Rangel, who would have gone to jail were he not Charlie Rangel, was censured by the House of Representatives for failure to disclose and for tax evasion while Maxine Waters’ ethics charges, related to getting favorable treatment for a bank that her husband was involved with, has been “punted to outside counsel.”
It’s not that the Republicans have been paragons of virtue. But with the scorecard since Obama’s election decidedly against Democrats on issues of ethics in Congress, corruption will be the proverbial double-edged sword, cutting Nancy Pelosi’s remaining troops in 2012 after she so spectacularly failed to “drain the swamp,” if I may mix Nancy’s metaphor with my own.
The bigger problem for Democrats, one that is wholly outside their area of comprehension despite its being the primary lesson of 2006, is authenticity.
Earlier in the 2000s, Republicans ran — as they always do — on a platform of conservatism, including a desire to limit the size and cost of government. Their behavior however, belied those statements of principle, with government spending increasing rapidly during most of the Bush years due to a Republican legislature and a Republican executive unwilling to discipline each other. Some have said that comparing Republican spending to that of a drunken sailor is insulting to the drunken sailor, so instead let’s say that the Republicans spent like Democrats.
And therein lies the authenticity issue: In 2006, the voters decided that if they’re going to support a government that is going to increase spending and involve itself in every aspect of our lives, they might as well go with the pros. Given a choice between a real Democrat and a Democrat-lite member of the GOP, voters will follow Coca-Cola’s marketing lead, choosing “the real thing.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online