Thursday, November 16, 2006

My thoughts on the Democrats' victory

In heavily Republican Orange County, California, voter turnout was a whopping 47.9%, which was actually close to the statewide turnout of 49.1%. Heavily Republican Riverside County turned out only 34.5%, San Bernadino 43%. Of course, LA County only turned out 48.8%.

My educated guess based on these numbers and watching the nation-wide trends is that conservatives had nothing to be excited about this year. What would happen if Republicans won all the close House and Senate races? Republicans would have the same majorities they've had for six years. What have they done with those majorities? Increased Federal spending and borrowing far faster than even under the Clinton administration. Why would conservatives be excited about that?

Even in 2004, many pundits stated that a Kerry victory wouldn't be all that bad, from a fiscal standpoint, because when the Congress and President are of different parties, "Pork" has a much harder time getting passed. Would a President Kerry have signed a bill funding a "Bridge to Nowhere"? I think a lot of that thinking went into conservatives staying home, and independents voting Democrat.

America is fiscally conservative. Milton Friedman, who sadly just died at 94, and his contemporary Frederick Hayek long ago won the debate about free markets, low taxes and low government regulation. Even most "independents" generally believe in free market principles. I submit that most Democrats do, too, but lie about it because they believe it is better to keep everyone (except them, of course) poor and stupid so they can be perpetually ruled by Democrats.

"Independents" remember that during the Clinton years, we had a balanced budget and taxes weren't all that high. What they don't generally remember is that the only reason this happened is because of the Republican victories in Congress in 1994. Why did Republicans win? By articulating fiscally conservative policies. Republicans couldn't do that this year because they abandoned fiscal conservatism. Farm subsidies, steel tariffs, prescription drug handouts, etc.

So how bad will it be with Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid? This was the main rallying cry of Republicans to motivate the base. It wasn't effective. Why not?

Because it won't be that bad. Bush is still President. Though he is a free spending liberal, and we're sure to get a minimum wage hike, the political pressure on him to veto Democrat spending bills will be much greater. Democrat pork also stands far less of a chance of passing. Democrat social policy stands no chance of surviving a veto.

Was it irrational for conservatives to "punish" Republicans for abandoning conservatism? Thomas Sowell, for whom I have the utmost respect, thinks so. But he poses the question as a single decision in time - from two competing alternatives, which was the better choice, a Republican Congress or Democrat? If all we're talking about is the next two years, I'd easily say Republican. But, the "punishment" theory goes, by thwacking Republicans for not acting conservatively, the next time around when they regain power they will act conservatively.

Will Republicans regain power? Easily, if they simply clean house and articulate - and follow through even in their minority status - conservative fiscal principles. This year was the best atmosphere ever for Democrats. They had a highly unpopular war, a highly unpopular Republican President, a very unmotivated Republican base, and what did they get? A hair's width majority in the Senate (that they can only maintain by constantly sucking up to Joe Lieberman) and at present a whopping 35 seat majority in the House, meaning only 18 seats need to flip next election for the Republicans to regain control. To remind everyone, Republicans had a 28 seat majority going into the election, and that wasn’t that big.

Is there any precedent for the “punishment” theory actually working? Yes, there is – 1994. Conservatives stayed home or voted for Ross Perot in 1992 as punishment to Bush I raising taxes. As a result, we got Clinton. Ok, so he soiled the office of President for 8 years (literally and figuratively) but what kind of fiscal government did we get? Welfare reform, NAFTA, balanced budgets, surpluses even. Why? Because Republicans realized that they needed to act like conservatives to win. In Clinton’s first two years, with a Democrat Senate and House, they tried Hillarycare. Then Democrats got booted and replaced by a truly fiscally conservative Republican Congress.

What will happen in the next two years? Democrats will either get drunk with power and appoint the most noxious leadership to appease their moonbat base, which will piss off the country, or they’ll get stuck infighting and won’t get anything done, which will piss off the country. I see no win for Democrats when they actually have to govern. They are incompetent. Democrats advance up the party ranks not with competence, but with more and more outrageous moonbattery. Democrat incompetence will be put on display for two years, when they can’t really do anything that harmful.

In 2008, America will be ripe for conservatives again, Republicans will have immense pressure from their base to act conservatively, and a Presidential election will bring out voters. I am sad to see the Republicans lose Congress simply because it is contemptible to vote for Democrats today. But they deserved to lose. And I think America, and conservatism, will eventually be better for it.