Republicans are shellshocked over losing a third House seat in a special election this year. Much as a series of special-election defeats by Democrats in 1994 augured that the first midterm election of the Clinton years would be bad for the party, the GOP now worries it could lose up to 20 House seats this fall. That would place Republican numbers in the House in the range of their pre-1994 levels â€“ and make the party a hopelessly outnumbered minority. ~John Fund
“This was a real wakeup call for us,” someone named Robert M. Duncan, who is chairman of the Republican National Committee, told the New York Times. This was after Mississippi. “We can’t let the Democrats take our issues.” And those issues would be? “We can’t let them pretend to be conservatives,” he continued. Why not? Republicans pretend to be conservative every day. ~Peggy Noonan
“There comes a time when you can’t hide from the things that you’ve done anymore.” ~Battlestar Galactica
One thing about the Mississippi election that has puzzled me is why so many conservatives have expressed some form of despair or anxiety about what it portends. Suppose for a moment that this means the decimation of the Republicans in the House and Senate as many more conservative Democrats are elected. Conservatives have some reason to take solace from this, since it means at once the repudiation of a party that abandoned restraint, prudence and wisdom and the opening up of something like a real competition for the votes of cultural conservatives. Republicans betrayed their promises, and so another people shall inherit what they were given.
Conservatives have suffered from the effects of living with a political monopoly, since they have felt compelled time and again to swallow their disagreements with the GOP and continue backing it for fear of the alternative. The lack of a tolerable alternative made this seem unavoidable. But what if the alternative begins to include ever-larger numbers of blue dog Democrats and the like? They may take cultural issues no more seriously than the GOP, but their mere existence creates more competition for conservative support and so might potentially give conservatives some minimal leverage and might lead to the GOP serving their interests more faithfully than they have done. No one should invest too much into this idea, since we have cheered Webb and then found him in practice to be pretty much the conventional Democrat that he had become. On the other hand, the Heath Shulers in Congress have proven to be reasonably good on immigration. Perhaps the prospect not just of losing in the fall, but also of seeing its entire coalition evaporate before its eyes will stir the GOP to abandon its embrace of the war and its attachment to centralised power. Of course, that would still leave them in search of a positive agenda, which they haven’t had for years and years. Remember how Republicans used to trumpet that they were the party of ideas? No one says that anymore, or at least not with a straight face.