Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Kamikaze Congress


November is still a long way away, but we already have some early indications of how it's going to go.

The most interesting data from a small set of congressional primaries held on Tuesday is the relative turnout of Republican and Democratic voters. Turnout for Democrats collapsed, with contested primaries bringing out fewer voters this year than uncontested primaries in previous years. For Republicans, the numbers were the opposite, with uncontested primaries this year bringing out significantly more voters than contested primaries in previous years.

This is a crucial measure of the relative enthusiasm of both parties' voters. Republicans feel the need to turn out and make sure their views are counted, even in races where it is unlikely to make a difference—whereas Democrats can barely rouse themselves for any vote. Or perhaps it's simply that more people are now willing to think of themselves as Republicans and thus to participate in the party's primaries, whereas fewer people are willing to confess to being Democrats.

At any rate, this enthusiasm gap between voters for the two parties is a leading indicator telling us that Republicans will be able to get out the vote—in droves—this November, while many Democrats will be staying home.

Here's another leading indicator: Wisconsin congressman David Obey has decided not to seek re-election—the latest of a string of Democratic congressmen who have suddenly discovered that wielding power in Washington is less important than spending time with their families. Obey's withdrawal, however, has a special symbolism: he was the chief author of president Obama's stimulus bill, the hated piece of legislation that touched off the Tea Party movement and turned independent voters against the Democratic Party.

And no Democratic seat is safe: there's also speculation that far-left Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold—a longtime Washington fixture—could also be in trouble. That's no surprise in the year when the Democrats already lost "Ted Kennedy's seat."

And don't forget another factor that is working against the Democrats: the decline of traditional media outlets that have served as sympathetic broadcasters of the left's views. The latest is Newsweek, which has been turning harder to the left over the past few years, and which is now being put up for sale because it is losing money for its owner.

All of these factors taken together imply a sweeping electoral victory for the Republicans.

Which is a very good thing. As TIA Daily reader Bill Manns puts it, "I really wonder how long the majority of Americans who by every single poll disagree with the left's political agenda will allow themselves to be insulted, shouted down, and demonized for not politely allowing their nation, liberties, and livelihoods to be taken by force and redistributed to others. If in the next election cycle there isn't a landslide of dissent against this totalitarian shift, I don't believe it will ever happen."

So let's hope the current trends continue and it does happen.

The cause of the public's turn away from the left is pretty obvious. We all see Greece looming in our future—a whole nation brought to the brink of ruin by a runaway welfare state. And we know who is pushing us headlong toward that outcome.

The engine of this rebellion against out-of-control government is the Tea Party movement—but the Republican establishment is now maneuvering itself to take the credit, with a Politico article touting a vague network of Republican establishment types who are hyping all of the organizing they're doing to ensure their party's victory this fall. The Washington Examiner's Mark Tapscott dismisses this as "more of the same-old, same-old from the national GOP—prescribing more money, management, and marketing as the key to political success instead of standing for permanent principles, proposing programs based on those principles, and then actually reforming government according to those principles." And that's the reason why somebody pushed that story to The Politico—to allow the tired, Pragmatist Republican establishment to claim credit for the victory that will be won by the Tea Parties.

The Democrats may be pushed from power soon, but our Kamikaze Congress will try to do maximum damage before they go. Fred Barnes describes how the prospect of a looming electoral defeat for the left actually puts us in more danger in the short term:

The presence of big majorities now and the likelihood they'll vanish in the midterm election in November have spurred Mr. Obama and Democrats to pursue their entire agenda in 2010….

Democrats, I suspect, have made a quite rational calculation about the election. It's baked in the cake that they'll lose seats, but how many more might they lose if they pass a series of unpopular bills? Maybe only a few. Given this, there's a case for going all out this year, which is exactly what they're doing.

Barnes even speculates that a lame-duck Democratic Congress could try to pass a Value Added Tax to permanently establish the massive taxes needed for their expanded welfare state.

That is why you never, ever, let Democrats have a majority in Congress, a mistake I hope the American people will not make again for at least another 30 years.—RWT




TIADaily.com



Robert Tracinski writes daily commentary at TIADaily.com. He is the editor of "The Intellectual Activist (TIA)" and contributor to "The Freedom Fighter's Journal"

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