Special Report

The Republicans Underestimate Their Strength

Just as Barack Obama overestimated his, which saw him helpless to prevent yesterday's GOP landslides.

By 11.4.09

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In last year's campaign, the one true thing Obama said to his critics was, "The political ground is changing under your feet." But what is not sufficiently recognized is that is going on again, right now, in the opposite direction.

That is what yesterday's elections showed. And what yesterday's political earthquake revealed about the landscape is that the biggest miscalculation going on right now is that the Republicans underestimate their own strength. As a result, they may fail to take maximum advantage of the political tsunami that is coming in 2010, just building to what is to come in 2012. For conservatives, this is a time of greater opportunity than 1977.

The Virginia Smackdown

Virginia in modern times had been a conservative Republican state, particularly in elections for national offices. But led by a badly confused Northern Virginia local business community that thought it saw advantage in runaway state taxes and spending, the state began trending Democrat a decade ago, electing two straight Democrat governors, and two Democrat U.S. senators. Just last year, the state went for Barack Obama by 6 points.

That trend was reversed yesterday in a Republican landslide that saw the GOP win every statewide office for only the second time in history. Republican Bob McDonnell won the Governor's race by 18 percentage points, reflecting a swing of almost 24 points towards the Republicans in just one year. In other words, about one-fourth of Virginia voters swung away from President Obama to the Republicans in that year.

Moreover, young, conservative, grassroots leader Ken Cuccinelli won the Attorney General's office by a similar margin. Cuccinelli won the hearts of local taxpayer activists 6 years ago by leading a shoestring revolt against a well-heeled, multimillion dollar, state establishment referendum for a sales tax increase. Incumbent Democrat Mark Warner, now a U.S. Senator, and the Northern Virginia business machine, both went down in flames to Cuccinelli's rag tag grassroots irregulars, outspent more than 10 to 1. Cuccinelli is also the political leader of the state's pro-life forces, pro-family groups, and social conservatives.

What makes this so significant is that Virginia has a one-term limit for Governor, and Attorney General is a traditional jumping off point for gubernatorial candidates, as it was for McDonnell. The youthful Cuccinelli is consequently a rapidly rising star nationally for conservatives. CPAC, take note, this guy is one of our own.

Republicans should make peace now with the Northern Virginia business community by supporting the extensive road building program they want to relieve traffic congestion, financing it out of general revenues by restricting the growth of other state spending. McDonnell won their support this year with this position, and there is no reason Republicans should not now implement this vigorously.

Don't let the Obama spinmeisters tell you Obama had nothing to do with this race. He was all over it in mailings, ads, even appearances appealing to the black vote in Tidewater. The swing in this state represents the grassroots anger with Obama's extremism.

Running the Table

Barack Obama won last year in New Jersey, one of the most solidly Democrat-controlled states, with 57% of the vote. As of this writing, incumbent Democrat Governor Jon Corzine has 45% of the vote, to 49% for Republican challenger Chris Christie, a lead of almost 100,000 votes. That is a swing of 12% towards the Republicans in just one year, in this ultraliberal state. Christie is now the projected winner.

This is a huge defeat for Barack Obama. He campaigned heavily with Corzine, which he didn't have to do. That communicates massive overconfidence by Obama. Precisely while Obama barnstormed the state, Christie passed Corzine and grew his lead. Bottom line: if Obama can't make it here, he can't make it anywhere. Sure, Corzine produced terrible failures for New Jersey as Governor. But these election results represent voter wrath against Obama as well, even in this state.

Indeed, Christie won despite a third party challenger from the right. Even with that, Corzine and Obama could not win. In fact, voters overall turned down Corzine/Obama leadership 54% to 45%, a landslide loss for the Democrats. Christie showed just how Republicans have to deal with such third party challenges. It is their responsibility to win over the voters. It is not the responsibility of those challengers to stand down so the Republican can win. Remember, Reagan faced a third party challenger in 1980 from a moderate Republican, John Anderson. Reagan still swept to a landslide win over an incumbent Democrat President, by presenting a positive conservative vision Americans could believe in. That is the winning model.

With Mike Bloomberg's re-election, New York City has now been governed by Republican mayors for 20 years. That shows New Yorkers are more tough-minded than the unthinking Democrat party machine captives of Detroit, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, who are proving incapable of self-government as their cities literally melt away beneath their feet.

Hang Together or Hang Separately

Perhaps the only disappointment for Republicans yesterday may be (as of this writing) the results from the 23rd Congressional District in New York, which Barack Obama did carry last year. Readers of this column are no stranger to Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman, who I first rang the bell for in this space weeks ago.

The Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava was way too far out there for any Republican to support. She ran on the ticket of the Working Families Party just last year, an extremist socialist front group. She had ties to ACORN and the SEIU. She was endorsed by the far left extremist Daily Kos. She had a voting record in the state Assembly that was so pro-tax that the Democrat, Bill Owens, was running ads against her on her tax increase votes.

Scozzafava's true colors were obvious long ago, but she rubbed it in the faces of those Republicans who supported her nomination by conspiring with the Obama White House to endorse the Democrat in the race after withdrawing, blasting Hoffman's middle America supporters as the extremists. What this reveals is a fundamental problem with the New York State Republican Party, and its very viability. Scozzafava was nominated at four local nominating conventions by local party bigwigs. Any Republican who thinks the best way to win is to nominate ACORN, SEIU, union-puppet Republicans needs to become a Democrat. There is no role or function for such people in the Republican Party. If that is what the New York State Republican Party thinks, then it should just shut down and let the Conservative Party carry the fight against the Democrats.

But apparently some of Scozzafava's local Republican supporters would rather vote for a Democrat than see an upstart, conservative, Reaganite challenger win. So as of this writing, the Democrat Bill Owens is ahead of Hoffman by a couple of thousand votes. To those small-minded locals who insist on loyalty to a left-winger like Scozzafava, I say what Reagan said in his famous 1975 CPAC speech: let them go their own way. As Reagan showed, for reasons of practical politics as well as principle, Republicans need to fly under banners of bold colors, not pale pastels. If that offends some badly confused nominal Republicans, then let them join the socialist party, as Scozzafava did. A Republican tent big enough to include Republicans with Scozzafava's record can't stand of its own weight. The rest of us need to fight for what we believe in, and win on what works, as we did in Virginia and New Jersey.

This race would have been won if the state party hadn't been so foolish as to nominate someone as far left as Scozzafava to begin with. RNC Chairman Michael Steele needs to get involved here and bust some heads in the New York Republican Party, including Al D'Amato's head. This sort of foolishness by the New York party is discrediting Republicans nationwide. It is encouraging counterproductive third party movements nationally that will just divide the anti-Obama vote, and break an emerging, conservative, Republican, Reaganite majority into two competing minorities, with the Obama left-wing extremists remaining dangerously in power.

The Democrats' New World Government

Let me give you an example of the left-wing extremism that is causing voters to flee the Democrats already this year, and will only get geometrically worse every year through 2012. Next month, the world is scheduled to meet in Copenhagen to sign a new global climate change treaty. Lord Christopher Monckton, who served as a legal advisor to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher accurately explains the draft of the treaty, saying: "I have read the treaty and what it says is this: That world government is going to be created. The word, government, actually appears as the first of three purposes of the new entity. The second purpose is the transfer of wealth from the countries of the West to third world countries in satisfaction of what is called, coyly, a climate debt…." Lord Monckton notes that the words election or democracy or vote or ballot appear nowhere in the treaty.

The treaty specifically establishes a new international body called The Conference of the Parties (COP), which holds authority to administer and enforce the treaty. As the Washington Times explained on October 27, the treaty establishes a "global carbon budget" for each country, with authority for "the treaty's governing bodies to limit manufacturing, transportation, travel, agriculture, mining, energy production and anything else that emits carbon" within any country party to the treaty.

The enforcement arm underneath the COP is the Copenhagen Climate Facility, which the treaty says is necessary because in order to save the planet, "the way society is structured will need to change fundamentally." The Facility will consequently hold as enforcement powers, "such legal capacity as is necessary for the exercise of its functions and the protection of its interests." If a country is found in violation of the agreement, the Facility will have the power to "undertake the measures necessary to bring the country back into compliance," as the Washington Times explains.

The Washington Times explains further:

The Facility will be run by an executive committee, the membership of which "may include representation from relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental stakeholders." So left wing pressure groups, animal rights fanatics, tree huggers, Al Gore or any other part of the environmentalist fringe would be eligible for executive committee membership.

This new world government is going to require a lot of funding. So the United States and other countries are required under the treaty to provide financing of $800 billion over 5 years to COP, with additional funding requirements to be assessed as needed. Indeed, the COP will have explicit world taxing authority over all treaty signatories, which would include the U.S. if we ratify the treaty. Moreover, once ratified, the treaty provides that a country cannot withdraw from it without consent from all the other countries under the treaty. Since America would be the biggest paying country, and most others would be drawing on that money, such consent will never be given even if a future President and Congress want to withdraw.

Is President Obama going to sign this treaty on behalf of America? Is he going to stand up to the world's leftists and refuse?

Signing the treaty would effectively be a violation of the oath of office, because it would turn ultimate governing authority over America to an international governing body, disenfranchising American voters, and suspending their constitutional rights. This is so ridiculously and utterly extreme that any Democrat Senator that supports ratification of it, from Chuck Schumer in New York to John Kerry in Massachusetts to Carl Levin in Michigan to Barbara Boxer in California, will have no prayer of re-election. But are the Democrats going to desert the international left and say no to the climate change treaty, just when the rest of the world is lining up behind it? What will the environmentalists say?

Lyndon Baines Johnson

The problem for the Democrats is that the results of their left-wing extremist policies, from domestic policies involving taxes, deficits, government spending, the dollar, health care, welfare, etc., to foreign policy involving Iran's nuclear weapons, Israel, Afghanistan, Russia, to national defense involving Obama's nuclear disarmament, missile defense cuts, and weakened defenses in general, are going to get geometrically worse and worse. That means their political prospects are going to get geometrically worse and worse, month by month.

Sooner or later, the Democrats will start to blame Obama, and turn on him. That is why I am predicting right now that President Obama is more likely to not be on the ticket in 2012, than he is to be re-elected. For Democrats who want to laugh this off, I have three words: Lyndon Baines Johnson.

He had a much bigger win in 1964 than Obama had in 2008.

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About the Author
Peter Ferrara is Director of Entitlement and Budget Policy at the Heartland Institute, General Counsel of the American Civil Rights Union, Senior Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, and Senior Policy Advisor on Entitlements and Budget Policy at the National Tax Limitation Foundation. He served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, and as Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States under President George H.W. Bush.