The chest-thumping that is prevalent today among conservative pundits is justified by polling data that seems to spell doom for the Democrats in November. Still, I can’t help but feel like I’m having déjà vu. And you know what they say about those who don’t learn from history.I suspect the the leadership of the GOP will make all the mistakes the possibly could. They've done it before in 2002-2006. But George Bednekoff's comment is VERY pertinent
In the last few years of the Bush administration, the President’s poll numbers crept ever downward. Democrats in politics and the press rejoiced that Americans were finally “waking up” to the fact that they had been right about Bushitler all along. They boasted loud and often that Republicans were losing the country because of their unpopular decisions to go to war in Iraq, establish new national security protocols, lobby for Social Security reform, stress border security, etc. Liberals started at the ideological position that those policies were immoral (if not illegal), and when Bush’s poll numbers dropped, they inferred causality. It never occurred to them that Bush’s poll numbers were dropping because many on the right didn’t think his policies went far enough. Conservatives wanted him to put more emphasis on border security, not less; they wanted to see a more aggressive approach to entitlement reform, not a Medicare prescription boondoggle; they wanted a comprehensive immigration solution that started with border security first, not blanket amnesty. The list could go on. The left, especially liberal journalists, just assumed that their criticisms of the right were being validated by the greater populace with each and every poll. It was wrong at the time, and it’s the main reason that so many of them today can’t understand what happened to their “mandate.”
Conservatives are making the same mistakes right now.
Obama’s poll numbers are dropping and more people than ever are self-identifying as Republicans. Naturally, conservatives believe this means that the public has finally “woken up” and decided that Obama and the Democrats are closet socialists hell-bent on “eroding the bedrock of American prosperity.” They started at the ideological position that the stimulus was a mistake, that health care reform was an overreach, , that the auto industry bailouts were a disaster, that we have to win in Afghanistan at all costs, etc. Every time Obama’s approval rating drops another point, they infer validation that more and more people are seeing the light. It doesn’t occur to them that his poll number are (among other reasons) dropping because liberals are angry that Obama/Reid/Pelosi haven’t worked harder to advance the progressive agenda. Liberals disapprove of the fact that that Obama settled for Obamacare instead of embracing a true, single-payer system; because they watered down financial oversight instead of going for the corporate jugular; because they escalated the war in Afghanistan instead of forcing the new government to sink or swim on its own. The list could go on.
You’re probably asking, “What about independents identifying as Republican? That’s true validation, right?” My answer would be, where else are Independents supposed to go? Their affiliation shift is a protest, and a fickle one at that. Right now, people are unhappy with the present course, specifically when it comes to national fiscal policy. If Republicans make great gains in the November elections, which it seems like they will, they need to govern with perspective and humility. If they mistake their electoral success for a “mandate” to challenge social norms, they’ll be swept out of office again soon. Ironically, the loss of independents from the Republican coalition over the next couple of years would probably provide the boost Obama needs to win reelection in 2012.
If in two years, conservatives are scratching their heads and saying, “What happened to our movement,” they’ll have only themselves to blame.
Humility and perspective are the most underrated commodities in modern politics. Just because people are trending Republican at the moment, it doesn’t mean that they’re particularly conservative. Every time I read a story about how the conservative death knell was greatly exaggerated in 2006 and 2008, or how independents are finally coming back into the conservative fold, I feel like there’s no doubt the right will screw this up again. Conservatism isn’t really back in vogue. Anti-incumbency is. And it will be again when the Republicans are back in charge. You know, déjà vu and all that.
I believe that the federal system allows Americans across the political spectrum to get along in a politically diverse country, but only if the size and role of government is relatively small at the national level. With more government functions at the state and local level, voters in different regions can agree to disagree. As an example, Massachusetts chose to have lots of government intervention in their medical insurance market and their choice has very little impact on my life in Texas. However, expand similar government intervention in health insurance to the national level, Obamacare, and political debate is elevated to 1850s level of divisiveness. A Republican congressional majority could help turn down the heat of American politics if they resist the urge to make a federal case of everything. They need to learn from their mistakes in the Terri Schiavo case, No Child Left Behind, TSA stupidity, the TARP bailout slush fund, and reckless earmarking....never underestimate the GOP leadership's ability to snatch stupidity from the jaws of victory and cause another defeat. Read the whole thing.