A Face in search of a Nose
By John D. Turner
10 Nov 2006

As the dust of the 2006 elections settles, the analysis begins. Both parties will sit down in formerly smoke-filled rooms to go over “lessons learned” and adjust strategy for their 2008 campaigns. It will be interesting to see exactly what they come up with. For the Republicans, will the lessons they take away from this debacle push them back to the conservative principles stated in their party platform, or will they decide that conservatism is dead and shift more to the left. For Democrats, will they understand why the electorate voted as they did, or will they see it as a big referendum for a broad-spectrum Liberal agenda.

Taking a look at the big picture, we see that the Democrats made big gains in the House, enough gains in the Senate to assume control there, and a gain of six Governorships, giving them the State House lead, 28-21, reversing Republican control there as well.

All in all, not a bad day for the Dems. The Republicans have tried to put a good face on it by saying that, historically speaking, it was less of a loss than the average for a midterm election in a two-term presidency. Perhaps. But losing the majority of everything but the presidency in one fell swoop has got to smart. Oh yes, and let’s throw in the resignation of the Secretary of Defense the following day. Who knows who else will resign in the immediate aftermath, or what other fallout will occur? When the Dems lost control, some retired; there were even those who switched parties, adding insult to injury. Are there Republican officeholders out there who would rather switch or quit than remain in a minority party?

There were a few interesting twists to this election. In some races, Democrats ran, and won over their Republican opponents, on a conservative message. Calling themselves “Blue Dog” Democrats, they claim to be moderate to conservative Democrats. Apparently they have never read their party platform. So how does a “conservative” Democrat get elected over a conservative Republican? And exactly what is a “conservative” Democrat? I haven’t seen one of those in years. I thought they had all gone extinct when Zell Miller retired.

Well, conservative Democrats are what get elected when conservative Republicans stop being conservative and start looking more like, well, Democrats. Conservatives want to elect conservatives. Party affiliation really doesn’t matter. The reason conservatives vote Republican is because for the longest time there hasn’t been a choice. And Democrats aren’t going to vote Republican just because the Republican candidate is masquerading as a Democrat. Why buy the ersatz when you can have the genuine bean?

The Democrats have finally twigged to this. Maybe they really do listen to conservative talk radio; hosts there from Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity have been saying it for years; “I’m a conservative, not a Republican. I vote Republican because that party best fits my political philosophy.”

It remains to be seen exactly how conservative these Blue Dog Democrats will turn out to be - or how conservative their party leadership will allow them to be.

The question is, do Republicans understand this? Will they look at the election results and say “we need to get back on the conservative track (and stay there) if we want to regain control”, or will they instead hare off in a different direction pursuing what they perceive to be “what the voters really want?”

And what happens if those conservative Democrats turn out to really be conservative? Republicans will find it somewhat difficult to oust a proven conservative with a Republican newbie who claims to be a conservative. All politics are local. Why should I dump someone who is doing a good job in my district, just so I can effect a change in leadership back in Washington D.C.? I may not like Nancy Pelosi, but then again, she’s not my representative. My guy is doing just fine; why should I fire him just to change the label behind the name?

The Democrats may find it expedient to accept a certain number of conservatives in their ranks if, in the greater scheme of things it keeps their Liberal leadership in control of Congress. As they discovered when they lost control, and as the Republicans are about to rediscover if they have forgotten, control is good. And having some conservatives makes them look more “fair and balanced.” Sort of like why Microsoft tolerates Apple’s existence; that way they aren’t technically a monopoly, and owning a chunk of Apple’s stock allows them to exercise some control.

This may cause problems down the road as the newly-elected conservative’s age and assume leadership roles based on seniority. But that is years down the road; worry about that bridge later.

At the national level the Dems are at least attempting to look reasonable. Despite the rhetoric that had been flying back and forth between them, Bush and Pelosi made kissy kissy smoochie face (what a repulsive image!) and at least pretended they can work together. Pelosi talked about “bipartisanship”, and the MSM got all gooey and teary eyed.

Of course, history shows that when the Democrats use the term “bipartisanship” what they really mean is “we will tell you what we want, and you will agree.” That’s “bipartisanship”. If you disagree, that’s defined as “partisanship” and “divisiveness”. Since this is their definition of bipartisanship when they are in the minority, why would one expect it to change now that they are the majority party in both houses?

I don’t expect the honeymoon to last very long.

So maybe the Republicans needed to be taught a lesson. Certainly they were not behaving in a manner consistent with the principles they supposedly espouse. Have they actually read their party platform recently? One certainly wonders. And yet, was it actually necessary to turn both houses of Congress over to what is arguably the most liberal administration this country has ever seen? In the process of registering our disapproval, we voted out some folks who really were good conservatives, such as Rick Santorum and George Allen. Was it truly necessary to throw the baby out with the bath water?

You know, the people now in control of the House and Senate have even less in common with our principles than the ones we turned out. Of course, that’s the problem with elections; they are not a precision instrument. It’s more like trying to do brain surgery with a meat cleaver.

But don’t worry. Mr. Bush has his trusty veto pen out, and I am sure he will use it, now that the voter’s have given him a good lesson he’ll never forget, to quash all the liberal bills that are sure to be headed his way once the new Congress is seated in January.

That’s assuming he can find it, of course. And that the ink in it hasn’t dried up. And that his writing muscles haven’t atrophied in the past six years.

He has, as I recall, only vetoed one bill since coming to office. At least I think he vetoed one…

For those Independents and Conservatives who sat this one out in disgust or voted Democrat, Libertarian, or other “also ran” party, congratulations! You really sent a message! You just sit there and wait for the Republicans to come begging at your doorstep for your vote. I hope you have a good tall stack of books there to keep you company, because it may be a long wait.

Meanwhile, let’s take a look at this Frankenstein’s monster you have helped birth.

Remember that amnesty bill for illegal aliens that you were so much against? You know, the one Mr. Bush wanted to sign, but the conservative Republican congress wouldn’t pass? Well, expect to see it passed and signed probably some time in January or February, depending on how long it takes Ms. Pelosi to pick out her drapes. And remember that 600 miles of fence along the border that the President didn’t want, but that the conservative Republican congress passed and pretty much forced him to sign? Don’t expect that any funding for it will survive in Harry Reid’s senate either.

But that’s OK, because you really showed those Republicans. You sent a message!

How about the right to life for the unborn message. This will be ensured, I’m sure, by the congress you helped elect, a congress which has as one if its first agenda items government funding of fetal stem cell research; a congress which has to confirm all presidential nominations to federal courts and the Supreme Court. And exactly how many conservative judges do you think will be confirmed by this senate? Well, you won’t have to worry about counting them, because there won’t be any. They won’t even come to the floor for a vote. Overturn Roe v Wade? You just set that back a good 30 years!

But that’s OK, because you really showed those Republicans. You sent a message!

And there are many other issues, supposedly of importance to conservatives that will be ended or set back indefinitely while we pursue such thing as gay marriage.

But that’s OK, because you really showed those Republicans. You sent a message!

It’s good to know that the results of this election have been widely cheered around the world. It seems that we are more well-liked now on November 8th than we were on November 7th. Some of those who have expressed approval at our choices include Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who called the election results “a victory for Iran”; Hugo Chavez of Venezuela who once more took the opportunity to liken George Bush to Adolph Hitler, and a lawmaker in Pakistan who stated that the election didn’t go far enough; that “Bush should be removed and be given a Saddam-like death sentence.”

Al Qaeda in Iraq also registered its approval.

According to an AP report, more than 200 Socialist members of the European Parliament hailed the American election results as "the beginning of the end of a six-year nightmare for the world."

And of course, the French are happy, and French approval is very important. We mustn’t forget the French, who look at the return of Democrats to power with nostalgia for the heady days of Bill Clinton. Now there was a leader who could party!

But that’s OK, because people of Principle showed those Republicans. By golly, if you aren’t conservative enough, we’ll just put the Liberals in charge! Two years of Liberal rule and people will be begging for sane conservative leadership again! We’ll see.

Barring some huge gaffe by the Dems, (which isn’t impossible considering the people they have in charge), I would expect to see them further consolidate power in 2008. Then we can find out if control of two of the three branches of government by one party, which they found so abhorrent when it was Republicans at the helm, is truly so heinous when it is they who hold the reins instead. My bet is that they will like it just fine.

If that happens, I figure that it will take about 10-12 years minimum before the Republican party can reorganize itself to take control of either house again, much less the Presidency. These things don’t happen overnight. It took the Democrats that long to come back.

Ten to twelve years is a long time. Time enough to put measures into place to make it much tougher to retake what was lost. The last time the Democrats were in charge, they were there for 40 years. They didn’t like being out of power and they have learned from their mistakes.

By the time the Conservatives get another shot, they will have had a decade to restock the courts with liberal judges, undoing much of what has been accomplished. There will, I am sure, be new rules to muzzle talk radio and the blogisphere, based on “fairness” and “equality”.

Don’t expect much support from churches either. Expect instead increased regulation and rules designed to strip them of their tax-exempt status if they step out of line. Liberals don’t have a problem with people of faith – as long as they know their place. And that place is nowhere in the public arena. Expect any sort of “Christian Coalition” to be marginalized. Expect the doctrine of separation of Church and State to be greatly expanded.

Stay tuned. If you liked the sound of Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reed, you’ll be really thrilled when President Hillary Clinton makes the scene. Who knows? By then Liberals may hold enough statehouses to overturn that pesky amendment limiting her to two terms of office.

But that's OK, because we sent a message. We stood on principle!

Messages are great, and heaven knows the Republicans needed to be sent one. In the long run, this may be good. I just hope we can survive the immediate aftermath.

Now that we have cut our nose off to spite our face, we need to either get used to our new look or go in search of a new nose. Or a good plastic surgeon.