Monday, November 27, 2006

Prof. Justice: Election Reflection - Understanding It (Part I)

(Note: This is the first of a four-part series)
Although the sting of November 7 is waning, three distinctive emotions pervade my thoughts: annoyed, troubled and frightened. Liberals claimed it was a tectonic realignment to the pre-1994 republican revolution. Conservatives, except for the President who resembled a deer in headlights, claimed it was well-anticipated. In fact, some have suggested that it wasn’t nearly as bad as they though it was going to be. Okay, if you say so.

There’s no mistaking that losing both houses was a very big deal. But it’s also worth noting that losing thirty-plus House seats and six Senate seats is actually below the post-1930 average for the “six-year itch” in a two-term presidency. It’s common knowledge that the party controlling the White House always loses Congressional seats in midterm elections. In 1938, Roosevelt lost seventy-one House and six Senate seats. In 1958, Eisenhower lost forty-seven House and thirteen Senate seats. In the sixth year of Kennedy/Johnson, Democrats lost forty-seven House seats and three in the Senate. Nixon/Ford lost forty-three in the House and three in the Senate. Even Ronald Reagan lost five House seats and eight Senate seats in his sixth year in office. So considering that this midterm election occurred during what the predictably subjective media proclaimed are an undisputedly unpopular war and a stagnant Republican party, I’d say the Republicans could have done much worse. Actually, the Dems should have done a lot better because pollsters reported that people apparently trusted Dems over Republicans on three stalwart conservative issues: cutting taxes (42% - 29%), controlling government spending (38% - 21%) and reducing the deficit (47% - 22%).

Incidentally, in the two midterm elections during the Clinton years, Republicans gained forty-nine House seats and nine Senate seats. And that was after having lost ten House seats when Clinton was first elected in 1992. As Ann Coulter pointed out, that’s only the second time in the twentieth century that a party won the White House but lost seats in the House which means that “however you cut it, this midterm proves that the Iraq war is at least more popular than Bill Clinton was.”

In the Senate, the Dems scored a one-seat majority by a margin of 8,942 votes in Virginia and 2,847 in Montana. A switch of just 1,424 votes in Montana would have kept the Senate Republican. Speaking of that one-seat majority, it’s funny how mere months after having been thrown under the Democrat bus for being a lone voice in supporting the President on his Iraq policy (that must be the “big tent” they keep referring to), Joe Lieberman will return to the Senate in control of their power as the “Independent” fifty-first seat. So they better be nice to him. Amazingly, he did it by insisting on victory in Iraq despite having ten percent of the Republican pro-Iraq vote in the blue state of Connecticut. Conversely, RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) Lincoln “chafing” Chafee, Jim Leach and John Hostettler all voted against the Iraq war and were defeated. A number of other races were also extremely tight. A less than overwhelming margin in the House and a one-seat majority in the Senate is not exactly a “tsunami” as PMSNBC called it.

Nor was this a repudiation of the Iraq war. The Associated Press reported that “three-fourths of the voters said corruption and scandal were important to their votes . . . Iraq was important for just two-thirds.” More telling is that fifty-nine percent of voters expressing “disapproval” of the Iraq war, many dislike Bush’s policy because it’s not aggressive enough. In other words, millions of Americans desire a more intense and more focused approach to crushing the terrorists, even if it means more troops in the short run. I dare say those same Americans are even less in favor of fighting a kinder, gentler, politically correct war.

Despite the Dems’ desperate attempt to convince us otherwise, this election was not a massive anti-conservative wave. Many “moderate” Republicans in the Northeast and Midwest lost. And conversely, many of the Dems’ gains consisted of conservative Democrats like North Carolina’s Heath Shuler, who is pro-life, pro-gun and anti-tax, Pennsylvania’s pro-life Bob Casey and Chris Carney, Maryland’s Jim Webb, who served in the Reagan administration, and Indiana’s Sherrod Brown. Moreover, nine states passed referendums protecting individual property rights by limiting government’s power of eminent domain. In eight states, voters approved state constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. And in the very blue state of Michigan, where voters reelected a liberal Democrat governor and two liberal Democrat senators, voters passed a ballot initiative to abolish affirmative action by a margin of fifty-eight to forty-two percent.

So, it certainly appears that America is a center-right country, rather center-left. In 1994, Republicans won Congress by nominating strong conservative candidates in long held Democrat districts. Now, Democrats did the same. They ran candidates who painted themselves as “pro-life,” “anti-gay marriage,” “born-again Christian,” and “anti-tax.” Of course, it wasn’t necessary for any of them to actually demonstrate these beliefs. All that they needed to do was campaign on them. In other words, liberals dress up as conservatives to get elected, but govern as leftists. Conversely, Republicans get elected by being conservative, but govern by pandering to the left. Why they do that is beyond me. Probably not in any small part due to the left’s persistent vilification of conservatives by the libs in Washington, the media and those in Lollyha-ha land as mean-spirited, racist, bigoted homophobes. The inescapable conclusion is that America is more conservative than it is liberal.

Dems are notorious for incessantly refusing to disclose their true agenda because they know that doing so would impede their being elected. In so doing, they dupe many into thinking that their positions accurately reflect what they believe. Yet many people who voted for them only did so as their way of expressing frustration with the President’s half-baked approach to “staying the course,” and his insistence on granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens and resistance to vigilantly controlling the borders. Of course it didn’t help that he spent money like a drunken sailor. The Dem candidates were conspicuously vague about their positions and were particularly careful not to mention the taxes they intend to raise. The exception was their pledge to lose the war, weaken our troops and embolden our enemy faster than the President.