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Into the Mouth of the Wolf: My Two Cents After Tuesday
Spare Change | November 9. 2006 | Dave Aland

Posted on 11/09/2006 6:32:50 PM PST by Natty

Living in Italy, one often has the challenge of explaining the workings of American politics to Italians, a people whose own political system can sometimes admittedly resemble a psychedelic jigsaw puzzle of ever-changing design. For such an endeavor, the Italians have a unique way of wishing one luck. They say “In bocca al lupo”, or “into the mouth of the wolf.”

Tuesday, an evening that henceforth many will think upon as “the night of long teeth”, the Democrats effected a sweeping re-balance of Congress – although it should be said that the Democrats did not so much win this week as the Republicans lost. With the heads of Rumsfeld and Hastert only just rolling, some are already saying that the Republicans deserved to lose this mid-term contest, but such judgments are premature. Others are saying that this election merely represents the normal ebb and flow of American politics, but they over-simplify as well.

In such an election, devoid of explicit or substantive platforms, legislative agendas, or policies, it might be hard to explain the victory of one Party over another were it not for two things: The President and the The War. Clearly, this mid-term election was a referendum on the present Administration, and the American people have spoken fairly clearly: we are unhappy with the Republicans and with the President.

But while Republicans clearly lost on Tuesday, conservative issues strangely did not. Same-sex marriage bans were enacted in three states, and property rights protections against eminent domain seizures were strengthened in other states. Other conservative ballot measures succeeded as well. While not as emphatic, the message is equally clear: we are not unhappy with a conservative agenda.

Throw out the baby but keep the bathwater? Why would the American electorate choose a conservative agenda but evict the conservative politicians? Some might say that many Republicans no longer represent conservative values; with big-government excesses, confused immigration remedies, pork, and corruption. Others might blame the gradual alienation of the President and his Party, which controlled both House and Senate yet perversely left the President on his own in many crucial issues.

The bottom line is that, in an election season in which both Party’s platforms were essentially expressed as “but we’re not like THEM”, the electorate decided not on the basis of who they liked, but who they didn’t.

The challenge ahead for both Parties is to form a coherent platform over the next two years leading up to the 2008 elections. Much depends on how both the Democrats and Republicans make use of the new strategic balance in Washington DC.

Republicans might indulge in the same obstructionism so prominently featured by the Democrats over the last 4-6 years, but this would be a losing strategy. It is time for Republicans to take stock of their conservative principles, and translate those principles into an actionable agenda not only for the next election cycle, but for the next two years.

Democrats may choose to indulge in hearings and ex post facto blamestorming of the Administration, but this too would be a losing strategy. The Democrats previously lost the House and the Presidency by lacking a coherent philosophy and attempting to translate a coalition of diverse special interests into a consistent platform. The most pressing need facing the ascendant Party is to elucidate what they represent, not merely whom.

The risks are considerable. The whole world watches to see if this election is just a sign of American global ennui, often blamed for our performance in Vietnam and on many foreign policy fronts. Certainly, the Islamic fascists hope that this election gives them a free hand. The netroots community is full of self-congratulatory blogs, claiming credit for the election and hoping to impose their volatile views upon the winners and the entire nation.

Will the next two years see consolidation and progress or retribution? Will the economy continue to stroke at the present record rate, or will it falter in the face of tax and spending reversals? Will unemployment, lower than it has been for decades, go up again?

The Party that gets its act together first will likely be the winner in 2008, but this is about more than who wins – it’s about governing the most powerful nation on earth in these present and dangerous times. Into the mouth of the wolf, indeed.

David J. Aland is a retired Naval Officer with a graduate degree in National Security Affairs from the U. S. Naval War College.

TOPICS: News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 2006election; election

1 posted on 11/09/2006 6:32:52 PM PST by Natty
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To: Natty

Good, well-written essay. The guy should keep on on writing.

2 posted on 11/09/2006 7:26:29 PM PST by Rudder
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