Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

A Return to the Norm (All 2010 did was undo the two-stage Democratic wave of 2006 to 2008)
Nationa Review ^ | 11/05/2010 | Charles Krauthammer

Posted on 11/05/2010 8:02:54 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

For all the turmoil, the spectacle, the churning — for all the old bulls slain and fuzzy-cheeked freshmen born — the great Republican wave of 2010 is simply a return to the norm. The tide had gone out; the tide came back. A center-right country restores the normal congressional map: a sea of interior red, bordered by blue coasts, and dotted by blue islands of urban density.

Or to put it numerically, the Republican wave of 2010 did little more than undo the two-stage Democratic wave of 2006 to 2008, in which the Democrats gained 54 House seats combined (precisely the size of the anti-Democratic wave of 1994). In 2010 the Democrats gave it all back, plus about an extra ten seats or so for good — chastening — measure.

The conventional wisdom is that these sweeps represent something novel, exotic, and very modern — the new media, faster news cycles, Internet frenzy, and a public with a short attention span and even less patience with government. Or alternatively, that these violent swings reflect reduced party loyalty and more independent voters.

Nonsense. In 1946, for example, when party loyalty was much stronger and even television was largely unknown, the Republicans gained 56 seats and then lost 75 in the very next election. Waves come. Waves go. The republic endures.

Our two most recent swing cycles were triggered by unusually jarring historical events. The 2006 Republican “thumpin’” (to quote George W. Bush) was largely a reflection of the disillusionment and near-despair of a wearying war that appeared to be lost. And 2008 occurred just weeks after the worst financial collapse in eight decades.

Similarly, the massive Republican swing of 2010 was a reaction to another rather unprecedented development — a ruling party spectacularly misjudging its mandate and taking an unwilling country through a two-year experiment in hyper-liberalism.

A massive government restructuring of the health-care system. An $800 billion–plus stimulus that did not halt the rise in unemployment. And a cap-and-trade regime reviled outside the bicoastal liberal enclaves that luxuriate in environmental righteousness — so reviled that the Democratic senatorial candidate in West Virginia literally put a bullet through the bill in his own TV ad. He won. Handily.

Opposition to the policies was compounded by the breathtaking arrogance with which they were imposed. Ignored was the unmistakable message from the 2009–10 off-year elections culminating in Scott Brown’s anti-Obamacare victory in bluer-than-blue Massachusetts. Moreover, Obamacare and the stimulus were passed on near-total party-line votes — legal, of course, but deeply offensive to the people’s sense of democratic legitimacy. Never before had anything of this size and scope been passed on a purely partisan basis. (Social Security commanded 81 House Republicans; the Civil Rights Act, 136; Medicare, 70.)

Tuesday was the electorate’s first opportunity to render a national verdict on this manner of governance. The rejection was stunning. As a result, President Obama’s agenda is dead. And not just now. No future Democratic president will try to revive it — and if he does, no Congress will follow him, in view of the carnage visited upon Democrats on Tuesday.

This is not, however, a rejection of Democrats as a party. The center-left party as represented by Bill Clinton remains competitive in every cycle. The lesson of Tuesday is that the American game is played between the 40-yard lines. So long as Democrats don’t repeat Obama’s drive for the red zone, Democrats will cyclically prevail, just as Republicans do.

Nor should Republicans overinterpret their Tuesday mandate. They received none. They were merely rewarded for acting as the people’s proxy in saying no to Obama’s overreaching liberalism. As one wag put it, this wasn’t an election so much as a restraining order.

The Republicans won by default. And their prize is nothing more than a two-year lease on the House. The building was available because the previous occupant had been evicted for arrogant misbehavior and, by rule, alas, the House cannot be left vacant.

The president, however, remains clueless. In his next-day news conference, he had the right demeanor — subdued, his closest approximation to humility — but he was uncomprehending about what just happened. The “folks” were apparently just “frustrated” that “progress” is just too slow. Asked three times whether popular rejection of his policy agenda might have had something to do with the “shellacking” he took, he looked as if he’d been asked whether the sun had risen in the West. Why, no, he said.

— Charles Krauthammer is a nationally syndicated columnist.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 2010midterms; elections; gopcomeback; krauthammer; norm; republic
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-24 last
To: Verginius Rufus

Thank you for the correction. It seemed to me there would have been a lot fewer seats back then. It did occur to me that the Democrats may have held a lop-sided enough majority to have had in excess of 200 seats back then anyway.

When I stated this earlier, I was quoting a pundit who stated this during the last couple of days. I’m sure I heard it said more than once by more than one person too.

One of the terms they used, was the ‘last 120 years’ line.

It’s best to strike that down though, if it’s not true and I appreciate you doing it.

21 posted on 11/05/2010 1:06:05 PM PDT by DoughtyOne (BHO fans said I was a hater, dismissed my thoughts. Sure glad our side isn't like that.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: chickadee
The turbulence was entirely created and sustained by the media

Yep. 2006 was an ugly campaign, at least where I live. Constant bombardment of negative propaganda. 2008 was even more so. My dad, who's seen his fair share of elections, said that it was the worst he'd ever seen, going back to the 50s.

This year? Not so much. Maybe a couple of commercials a night. Heasrd my first radio commercial on election day. Even the negative ones (all lib) were pretty muted.

Interesting, I thought, that libs win on hosility, and conservatives win on principles.

22 posted on 11/05/2010 1:28:56 PM PDT by wbill
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: DoughtyOne
I was going by The Statistical History of the United States which has the party affiliations for Congress up to 1970 (page 1083). I believe the House has been set at 435 maximum since the 1910 census (or maybe since 1912 when New Mexico and Arizona became states). It was briefly raised to 437 when Alaska and Hawaii became states, until the redistricting after the 1960 census.
23 posted on 11/05/2010 1:29:20 PM PDT by Verginius Rufus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Verginius Rufus

Thanks for mentioning a good resource. I appreciate it.

Rush may be one of the places where I heard this 120 year line. Perhaps not...

I do know I heard it on FoxNews from someone.

24 posted on 11/05/2010 2:17:54 PM PDT by DoughtyOne (BHO fans said I was a hater, dismissed my thoughts. Sure glad our side isn't like that.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-24 last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson