The Morning After
By: Steven Maggi
Nancy Pelosi needs to hold off measuring the drapes in the speakerâ€™s office. The alphabet channels, New York Times editorial staff and the rest of the main stream media can put that bottle of Dom Perignon back into the refrigerator. It seems the great Democratic/Liberal repeat of 1932 may not be as imminent as we were led to believe. Instead of losing in a traditionally Republican 50th Congressional district in Southern California as predicted, Republican Brian Bilbray beat Democrat Francine Busby. Last Tuesdayâ€™s election taught us the same lesson we have learned for the last 12 years â€“ conservatives win when they espouse conservative ideals.
Democratic candidate Busby ran with this yearâ€™s Democratic mantra â€“ â€œthe Republican party is the party of corruption.â€ Then she fumbled â€¦ she told a predominately Hispanic-speaking crowd they didnâ€™t have to be citizens to vote and work for her campaign. The remainder of the campaign was spent explaining she â€œdidnâ€™t really mean it,â€ but audiotapes tend not to lie. Meanwhile, Bilbray, an experienced legislator, ran on the conservative principles of less government, controlled spending, and stopping illegal immigration. These are the principles that won the election.
You could tell it was a good night for the power in party, as you heard very little Wednesday about the previous nightâ€™s election. On Tuesday night, the CBS Evening News ran a story on how this race would be a â€œreferendum on both the Republican Congress and the Republican President.â€ Yet despite Bilbrayâ€™s victory and the fact that Busbyâ€™s totals were less than John Kerryâ€™s 2004 numbers in the same district, CBS anchor Bob Schieffer declared the win â€œa warning shot for Republicans.â€
Outside of a few of these â€œmoral victoryâ€ tales from Democratic cheerleaders, you had to channel surf the cable networks and read the paper from cover to cover to learn much about the election. No big analysis, no William Schnieder break down of how this effects November, no lists of new Democratic committee chairmen..
In 1994, the late Peter Jennings described the Republican takeover of Congress (after 40 years of Democratic control) as â€œthe American People throwing a temper tantrum.â€ To the mediaâ€™s chagrin, it was not a tantrum but instead, a lasting change in the political landscape.
And these pundits were so sure this time Americans would come to their senses and return us to the glorious 60s when Democrats ran Washington. After all, President Bushâ€™s poll numbers seemingly drop by the hour and each day he hits another all-time low. Certainly all this anger about the Presidentâ€™s performance and his party would lead to the destruction of the Republican Party as we know it. But what the pundits failed to take into account was Bush isnâ€™t running for anything. While his policies are not popular, the other party is in equal disfavor with the electorate, offering no solutions other than an organized hatred of Bush. Also, polling has been less accurate over the last decade (remember the exit polls in 04?) and low poll numbers are self-fulfilling propheciesâ€¦that is, the more they proclaim Bush unpopular, the more the non-engaged respondents agree. After all, moderates like to associate themselves with â€œconventional wisdom.â€
It is true there is a lot of anger with Washington these days. The news (at least what we get in the mainstream media) from Iraq is all bad, gas prices are through the roof, and sometimes there appears to be a lack of leadership in Washington. Perhaps if the Democratic Party offered a true option (more Joe Libermans, less Teddy Kennedys), a turnover would be in order. But the fact remains this is the party of John Kerry, Howard Dean, and Al Gore. These are far left liberals who appeal to the Democratic base, but scare everyone else outside of Manhattan and Hollywood.
This certainly does not mean the Republicans are a lock in November. The party base is disillusioned with runaway spending and lack of consensus regarding illegal immigration. Still, since the days of the â€œContract with Americaâ€ it has been true conservatives win when they run on a conservative platform. Forget pollsters and pundits, Republicans should just stick with the original playbook if they want home field advantage.