And now for the good news

Despite the rout — and it is a rout — many conservative bloggers are finding reasons for cautious optimism. So, here’s my short round-up of why things aren’t so bad.

Patrick, with a gracious nod in my direction (thank you!), takes us to Arthur Brooks and Dean Barnett, both of whom see reason for celebration in the votes. Brooks’ point of view is that Democrats won by being dishonest with themselves — that is, they ran as pseudo-Republicans, providing a haven for voters who are mad at real Republicans. Presumably, they can continue to govern as pseudo-Republicans, which is fine as long as they get the conservative job done, or they can reveal their true colors, which will probably seem them ousted. Barnett sees cause for celebration in the fact that bloated, corrupt, weak Republicans will have to reemerge as real Conservatives to win — and that’s a good thing.

Laer points out that, with some significant exceptions, voters, even those who voted in a Democratic Congress, went conservative on state propositions. Michelle Malkin makes the same point — that the GOP, not conservatism, lost. Laer also celebrates the fact that Prop. 87 was Stephen Bing’s $50 million Waterloo. Really, if Bing is so supportive of alternative fuels, why doesn’t he just use his money to fund the research, instead of using his money to get me to spend my money?

Michael Medved is another one working to draw useful conclusions from the election. Like Dean Barnett, he points out that the Republicans were running as un-Democrats, just as the Democrats were running as un-Republicans. Neither party had ideas, and the party out of power therefore trounced the party in power. He also notes that the Democrats are really going to have to struggle with the fact that, while Americans want a change in Iraq, they want that change to look like more aggressive fighting, not withdrawal (another lesson the GOP should have figured out sooner).

John Hinderaker, writing at Power Line, is also avoiding any post-election tears, by looking at the difference between this sweep and the Republican sweep in 1994. After all, we all know that 1994 welcomed in a 14 year run of control. Why should this election be different? Here’s why:

There is another difference, though, between 1994 and 2006. In 1994, the Republicans ran on a platform, the Contract with America. Their victory therefore gave them a mandate, notwithstanding that many voters were vaguely aware (if at all) of the Contract. This year, the Democrats ran as non-Republicans. They made a deliberate decision not to take an issue on the biggest issue of the day, the Iraq war, and they downplayed (at least in competitive races) their intention to raise taxes and take other unpopular measures.

This ties in with the most basic difference between 1994 and 2006. After the Democrats were swept from power (and through the intervening years), many Democratic activists have said that their party lost power because they weren’t liberal enough. The party drifted to the left, not because this theory was right, but because so many of the surviving Congressmen and Senators were from safe liberal jurisdictons. This year, on the other hand, it is actually true that the Republicans have lost power in large part–although, to be sure, not entirely–because they have been untrue to their conservative principles.

We can see this partly from the various ballot initiatives that won yesterday, but even more so from the fact that the Democrats still aren’t showing their liberal side to the voters. Unlike the Republicans in 1994, they didn’t run on a program of tax hikes, softness in national security, gay marriage, etc.

In other words, just as Arthur Brooks said, the Democrats won by not being Democrats. Their choice is to continue not being Democrats (a good thing) or to revert to type (which probably will be, for them, a bad thing).

I’ve got to go back to work, but please feel free to chime in with any more positive spins on this election. I’m certainly pleased to note that none of us are making ridiculous threats to head off to Canada, but that we are, instead, all looking to the future and trying to learn from our losses.

UPDATEBest of the Web also chimes in with reasons to view this as a glass half full election. Here’s my favorite:

Victory may prove cathartic for the Angry Left. America’s liberal left, and the Democratic Party more broadly, has been in an unhealthy emotional state ever since Bill Clinton’s impeachment eight years ago. The 2000 election controversy made things much worse for them, and led them to respond to their string of election losses since by lashing out and claiming the elections were stolen.

No one on the left will claim the 2006 election was stolen. They won fair and square, partly because of GOP complacency and partly because the Democrats got smart about candidate recruitment.

Of course, if the Angry Left calms down, it’ll be a mixed blessing for this column, which has gotten an enormous amount of mileage out of it. But at least we still have John Kerry to kick around, and now he almost certainly is running for office–either president or, more likely, re-election in 2008.

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Comments

  1. dagon says

    yeah right bookwork

    “In other words, just as Arthur Brooks said, the Democrats won by not being Democrats. Their choice is to continue not being Democrats (a good thing) or to revert to type (which probably will be, for them, a bad thing).”

    –that just kills me. especially considering that EVERY SINGLE ONE of these supposedly “conservative” democrats was accused of being TOO lIBERAL!! by their republican opponents.

    but whatever helps you sleep at night.

    peace

  2. says

    Bookworm, don’t you think dagon and his ilk should go celebrate in real life, instead of pseudo-trolling on other people’s blogs? This kind of sick bitterness is for psychologists like Neo to treat, and schadenfreude worthy of the Germans.

    I always knew the Democrats were ruthless, they just can’t help kicking a dog while he’s down, but this dog isn’t going to be down for long. They got a cruel streak, and as I said before, Bookworm, let’s get them to unleash it in Iraq. Start the mass slaughters, Democrats would love it.

    It is true as you said, Bookworm, there are positive elements. The game isn’t over yet. Where there is life, there is hope. Might not be any food or water, but still, there’s hope.

    The only unknown, although in my view a pessimistic chance, is that Bush can use the Democrats, in order to pressure local Iraqi politics. He can get a great negotiation with Lieberman by ordering his Republican faithful to support his initiatves, and he can get a good negotiation with the Iraqis, by threatening to not veto anything the Democrats sign into legislation concerning Iraq. Then he compromises with the Democrats and says we can pull out, if you give me this. True, Bush is going to have to backstab somebody, but that is politicsl for, and Bush is too optimistically pure by half. Which is why I am pessimistic, regardless of the positive chances we have, if the President does not choose them, what good are they?

    Still, while being pessimistic about Bush, doesn’t mean I’m in the gutter concerning anything else. It will be fun to harangue the Democrats for the next two years.

  3. says

    Dagon, you’re assuming that genuine conservatives bought into the electoral pap the Democratic candidates were disseminating to get into office. I didn’t object to what they said now, so much as to what they said in the past — and what they’re voting records show. I believe the American voters were sold a bill of goods, to the extent they think they’re getting people who will be fiscally conservative, militarily-savvy and generally good managers. They’ll get the usual tax and spend stuff, along with a whole bunch of other garbage that they weren’t anticipating, but would have seen coming if they could have torn themselves away from the MSM.

  4. dagon says

    bw,

    most of this new crop of dems don’t have voting records so who specifically would you be referring to? who is an example of a democrat who misrepresented his/her true nature to the electorate?

    peace

  5. says

    Oh ya, this is the goods here, funny stuff.

    No nation divided 50/50 can carry out any consistent policy. To became a real superpower US need beforehand came to terms with themselves in which universe they live. And Bush administration, it seems, wasted their chance to do so after 9/11. Winston Churchill words apply: “Americans eventually do the right thing, but not before they try everything else”.
    Sergey | 11.08.06 – 8:16 am | #

    I can’t escape compare Bush and Reagan approaches to presidency. Both deserve to be called “crusaders”, and Bush actually used the term in aftermath of 9/11. But if you begin a crusade, you must explain this to public, do it often and vigorously. And Reagan did exactly this, every week. Of course, he had an advantage – his professional skills of actor, and Bush has disadvantage of being slightly tongue-tie. But when he really talks to public, he does it remarkably well. It is a pity that these occasions were so rare. Churchill also was famous for his rhetorical skills – and understanding of importance of propaganda in war time. Political pundits usually preach to converted; but presidential addresses look and hear almost everybody.
    Sergey | 11.08.06 – 8:49 am | #

    http://www.haloscan.com/comments/neoneocon/116295181689528539/#25951

    Nah–It’ll be sweetness and light now that the ‘correct’ party is in.

    The media will talk up the stock market and the economy.

    Even the trolls will like us ‘cuz america is now lead by the leftists.

    You will hear nothing but good news from here on out.

    The war on terror is as good as won!
    Gray | Homepage | 11.07.06 – 11:28 pm | #

    Gray’s comments, begin if you click on the link, and the yare pretty funny I think.

  6. Al says

    Regarding the thrashing we took this election, I think we’re ignoring the role of the visual broadcast media. Liberal, of course. Conservatives did not stay home in conservative states. They voted for conservative state issues, and for allegedly conservative Democrats. They were voting against Bush, and maybe the alleged Republican culture of coruption. Any why did they want a change? Because all they heard were accounts of Foley, and Abramoff, and the body count in Iraq.
    Nowhere did we see repeated recounts of Democrat congressmen with C notes in freezers or Democrat senators reaping million dollar land deals or girls going to school in Iraq.
    We talk about winning Congress in 1994 with the Great Contract With America, with a postive plan to energize the base and interest the indipendent voter. I think we ignore the beneficial effect of the ads that the health insurance companies ran during that year. Hillery Care was going to screw up your ability to see your own doctor, and get the treatment you wanted. All true by the way. That hit home, and we got the Senate and the House. Clinton saw the effectiveness of those ads, and made the insurance companies buckle under. We never saw those ads again, and we saw a steady erosion of our majority. Despite the conservative radio talk shows, despite conservative blogs, we’re going to continue to come up short without major, continual, visual broadcsat exposure.
    Al

  7. Danny Lemieux says

    To Al’s point, the Democrats now control three out of five branches of government: the Senate, the House and the MSM. The Republicans control the Executive, and the Judiciary is up for grabs. Conservatives will be swimming up-stream for some time to come. Personally, I blame the Republicans more, if not less, than the Democrats – they really lived up to the dictum that, if the Democrats are the “evil” party, the Republicans are the “stupid” party.

  8. says

    That was one of the first things I noticed, Al, when I saw what voters voted on concerning different propositions, as well as the polls for healthcare, stim cell, culture of corruption, and Iraq. People ranked Iraq pretty high on the list of why they voted for the Democrats.

  9. JJ says

    Well, first of all this was not a “thrashing” by any means. It’s a given that sixth year elections are generally disastrous for whoever’s in the White House. Sorry, Dagon, but there’s absolutely nothing “historical” about this “historical repudiation,” or whatever they’re calling it, and it does not bode well for the future of the democrats.

    In his sixth year, 1938, FDR (who is, after all, a saint) lost 71 House seats, and 6 in the Senate.

    Eisenhower’s sixth year midterm cost him 47 in the House, and 13 in the Senate.

    JFK/LBJ’s sixth year saw the democrats lose 47 in the House, and 3 in the Senate. (Not too bad in the Senate because, after all, JFK is another saint, and LBJ ran the Senate for years. But they still lost.)

    Nixon/Ford’s sixth year they lost 43 House seats, and 3 in the Senate.

    Reagan’s sixth year he lost 5 in the House, and 8 in the Senate.

    Clinton was such an ass he got shellacked right away, in his two-year midterm – he didn’t need to wait for the sixth year – but the total over his presidency was a loss of 49 in the House and 9 in the Senate.

    And now this historical repudiation of Bush – this absolute watershed!!!! – results in a total democrat pick-up of 30 in the House, and either 5 or 6 in the Senate.

    Watershed? I don’t think so. It’s the smallest loss (with the exception of Reagan) since the 1930s.

    By the way – another way to look it might be that the war in Iraq – if that’s going to be the big issue – is more popular than Bill Clinton was. Clinton lost 19 more House seats than Bush has, and either 4 or 3 more in the Senate than Bush has.

    In spite of all the negative press, all the “scandals,” all the whatever you’d like to call it: the democrats, with (allegedly) absolutely everything going for them: managed to accomplish nothing historic. They labored mightily and brought forth a mouse: the second smallest 6th year gain since 1938. Wow!

    If you think that puts them in a strong position or bodes well for their future, think again. With everything in the world allegedly going for them, they didn’t accomplish very much at all.

  10. dagon says

    hey jj,

    your record at prognosticating has been pretty spotty lately don’t you think?

    maybe you ought to set this one out and just see how it all unfolds

    peace

  11. dagon says

    i wasn’t talking about the numbers jj.

    i was simply stating that anyone who thinks that dems retaking the house (and now it looks like the senate as well) doesn’t ‘bode well the future’ needs to check their meds.

    i don’t recall ever stating that there was anything historic about this but the current right-wing freakshow spin that dem gains ACTUALLY equal bad news for the dems is just plain pathological.

    peace

  12. BigAL says

    Yeah Dagon! The Dems have no idea what kind of war we are facing…they don’t understand security..they are military retarded. On the other hand, the Republicans (especially the neo-cons)have made us safer, they know what kind of enemy we’re facing, they understand the stakes, and they have proven to be great military minds up to this point. George HW Bush made a big mistake when he didn’t finish the job after the first Gulf War—thank goodness his own son didn’t listen to him. Thank goodness George W. Bush is such a military genius.

  13. Al says

    JJ, Thanks. I had the sense that the shift in seats from one party to the other was relatively small when viewed historically. I didn’t have the numbers. My dismay stems partly from the general increase in governmental control of daily life. Relatively small swings in seats translates to realatively larger effects on our lives now than our parents lives then. It’s my libertarian outlook.
    I have been rereading one of my old history texts from college. It’s “The Armada” by Garrett Mattingly. The propoganda that Spanish agents used in France to ensure that France would not interfere with the Spanish Armada was most impresive. From sermons in Parisian Catholic pulpits to broadsides from the French Catholic groups. All paid for by Philip of Spain. It is a stretch, but we are exposed to similar propiganda from the media. Time to fight fire with fire.
    Al

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