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The Republicans Need To Learn From Defeat

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I’ve got morning errands that need to be taken care of, so detailed analysis will have to wait, however I find myself very much in agreement with the substance of what Leslie Carbone says in this post:

[W]e can recover what has been so tragically lost over the last 20 years: an understanding of the principles that undergird the world that is deep enough and solid enough to strengthen us against the temptation of the short-term false comfort of government molly-coddling. Ronald Reagan had that understanding. But the failure of his successors to demonstrate it has squandered the legacy of prosperity that he left us. When a Republican president says, in effect, “Well, I really really really believe in the free market, but the taxpayers need to cough up $700 Billion so the government can bail out irresponsible banks and borrowers or some scary stuff is gonna happen, and it’s gonna happen so fast that we don’t have time to consider market-based solutions that might actually correct some of the root causes of our economic woes”, the obvious reality is that the president not only doesn’t really believe in the free market, but that he doesn’t even understand it. And the collaborators in Congress obviously don’t understand it either.

That’s why the sweep is a blessing, a harsh one, no doubt, but sometimes that’s the only kind that works. For 20 years, conservatives have been carrying water for Republicans who don’t get it, hoping for a dollop of porridge here and there. Now they’ve been unequivocally booted, and we can start over, better off without them.

The sun has set on the era of big-government Republicanism. And yes, we are entering a period of darkness. But we can bring morning back to America.

Let’s get to work.

This is the second time in two years that the voters have handed the Republicans a loss that must feel like a being hit in the solar plexus with a sledgehammer. Back in 2006, motivated both by a Congress and Administration that had completely mishandled the nation’s financial affairs and widespread antipathy toward a War in Iraq that remains unpopular to this day, voters brought to an end twelve years of Republican control of Congress. This year, they handed the GOP it’s worst loss in a Presidential election since 1964.

And the reason, ultimately, lies in the fact that the fact that the Republican Party has been in an intellectual stupor since at least 1998. The early heady years after the “revolution” of 1994 didn’t last long because the GOP found itself politically outmaneuvered by Bill Clinton — who managed to turn even his own impeachment into a political victory. The early months of the Bush Administration, meanwhile, were so lackadaisical that one wondered if Bush really wanted to be President. Then, when George W. Bush had the whole world in his hands after 9/11, he squandered his popularity on an unpopular and poorly planned war that ended up costing his party in not one, but two national election cycles.

Through it all, Republicans kept parroting the same lines about small government and free markets, but they governed like Democrats on speed. Under President Bush, the size and scope of government, even outside the defense sector, increased at a faster pace than it did under Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, or Lyndon Johnson. There were still voices in the GOP for the party’s first principles, but they were drowned up by the chest-thumping nationalism that had replaced intellectual discourse for most of the GOP during the Bush years.

The Republicans face many choices in the months and years ahead. They can continue going on as they have been, in which case voters in states like Virginia, Ohio, Florida and North Carolina are likely to continue drifting away from them. They can became an insular party dominated by social conservatives, in which case they are doomed to permanent minority status. Or, they can offer voters a real alternative to the big government philosophy that has dominated Washington for the past eight years.

The choice is theirs.

Originally posted at Below The Beltway