Taking a broad look at Tuesday’s Republican sweep


Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

I don’t have much to add to the numerous reports about yesterday’s election by political pundits far more qualified than I. The Republicans won a big landslide victory yesterday, not only gaining control of the Senate, but winning more seats than expected. They also won more seats in the House than expected, widening their majority there to numbers not seen since the 1920s. In addition, they made it a grand slam by winning a plethora of governorships — many in Democratic stronghold states such as Massachusetts, Illinois, and Maryland — as well as taking control of more state legislatures than ever before.

What matters to me, however, is not the election but what this new Republican majority does with its majority. In the past, 1994 and 2000, they more or less squandered the opportunity to rein in government. In 1994, they allowed the government to grow but at a rate below the rate of inflation so that in a few years this resulted in a balanced budget and surpluses. But the government still grew in power and size. In 2000 they did not even do this, allowing government spending and yearly deficits to balloon, even though they had a Republican president who would have supported them if they had wanted to cut the size of government.

Thus, while I am hopeful, I also remain very skeptical about what will happen in the next few years. In order to prove to me and the conservative base that elected them that these Republicans mean what they say when they say they want to shrink the size of government, they are going to have to prove it with real action. They are going to have show us that they really do want to repeal Obamacare. They are going to have to show us that they really do want to gain some control over the border. And they are going to have to show us that they really do want to cut the budget and get it balanced.

I understand that the Democrats in the Senate and Obama can still block many of these initiatives, but too often Republicans have used this fact as an excuse to not try at all. This must stop! They must apply strong pressure on these left wing ideologues, make them reveal their politics for all to see by forcing them to veto or block these initiatives. Only by demonstrating a resolve to rein in government will anyone believe the Republicans when they claim that’s what they want to do. And by doing so they will also simultaneously expose the Democrats as the left wing ideologues that they are.

Making these points can only be for the good, politically.

Two more points, often unstated but fundamental to what elections in the United States represent.

First, this election was a mid-term election. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the electorate that votes in the midterm elections is decidedly different than the electorate that votes when a president is on the ballot. Studies suggest that midterm voters are more conservative. They are also more informed about politics, more likely to be political junkies who follow what is going on. During presidential elections many more uneducated, low-information voters come out to vote. These also tend to be more liberal.

Thus. what happens during a midterm election does not necessarily illustrate a trend that will continue during the presidential election two years later. We have seen this pattern starkly in 2010, 2012, and now 2014.

However, what the Republicans do in the next two years could significantly change this pattern. If they push their agenda wisely, they will be in a better position to sell that agenda to those low information voters come 2016. This really is the Republicans’ only option.

Second, most of the analysis about this election has focused on the details of these elections, the politics, the pragmatics, the campaign techniques, the strategies. Elections however are more than this.

In essence, elections are a broad statement of where our society and culture wishes to go politically. Without doubt no two voters, even those who self-identify as having the same political beliefs, will agree on every issue. Within both parties there are many political streams, some going in opposite directions.

Nonetheless, when the voters vote for Republicans they are generally voting for lower taxes, smaller government, and less regulation. They are voting for conservative/right wing principles. When they vote for Democrats, they are generally voting for higher taxes, bigger government, and more government services. They are voting for liberal/socialist/left wing principles.

Tuesday’s election proved without doubt that, looking at it broadly, the American people want the former, and they said so at all levels of government, local, state, and federal, and in all regions, whether labeled red or blue. The public does not want more regulation. They do not want a bigger government. They want it to shrink and they want it to have less power over their lives.

Will the Republicans make an effort to give them this? We shall see.

Share

11 comments

  • DK Williams

    The zebra doesn’t change his stripes. The Narcissistic-n-Naif will have a photo-op bipartisan meeting, then dig in his heels refusing significant compromises. His lackeys in the media will once again claim the GOP is obstructionist; the country be damned.

  • Pzatchok

    The first thing I would like them to do is to come out and say that they will net be changing ANY of the procedural rules for the next few years.

    You remember, all those rules the democrats changed to keep the republicans from exhibiting any type of power or influence.

    Especially the now none existent filibuster rule.
    Or the new rule that the minority party can not propose legislation or amendments to bills without approval of the majority.

    Never enact a rule you are unwilling to have used against yourself.

  • Jwing

    My take away from this election is that the majority of voters now want to be more FC, “fiscally correct” and less PC, “politicalyl correct”.

    It’s time to get our fiscal house in order after treating this country for decades like the dormitory in the movie, “Animal House”.

  • mpthompson

    The best thing the Republicans can do would be to craft small, simple pieces of legislation that have the broad support of the American people (hmmmm,hmmmm border enforcement) and dare the Obama to veto. Do this week after week until it’s drilled into the electorates heads as to who is really the obstructionist.

    Regarding Obamacare. Craft a one page amendment to the law that removes the mandate so that people can choose for themselves whether they want to participate (a pro-choice amendment so to speak). Then another amendment that removes the restrictions on they type of coverage a company can offer (another pro-choice amendment). Then let the public see the Dems for the big-government fascist they are.

  • wodun

    Ya, in Obama’s big speech yesterday he basically said fu either do what I tell you to do or I will do it anyway.

  • wodun

    On election night, it was funny to see Democrats on the internet claiming that the filibuster would protect them. They just assume that Republicans wont act like they do so are safe to treat Republicans as nasty as they want. Partially true, just look at the anti-war (anti-Bush) movement and compare that to how Republicans have supported Obama’s efforts to combat AQ and its affiliates. They know they can always go anti-war when a Republican is in office out of an effort to damage a Republican politically but never have that weapon turned back on them.

  • Your strategy is so simple and brilliant that I am going to post it as a point of information on the main webpage.

    I wonder, however, if the Republican leadership can figure this out.

  • Edward

    A lot of what the Democrats threw at the Republicans can justly be tossed back. The phrase “elections have consequences” was very important to Obama when he was on top of the world, but his post-election speech made it clear that he does not think that is true now. That is an example of what could be tossed back at him.

    The idea of the Republicans keeping the rules of the Senate as the Democrats left them is another example, but it is dangerous, as these rules may remain for all eternity. On the other hand, now that the Democrats successfully got away with changing these rules, if the Republicans repair the rules, then the next time the Democrats are in power they can always change the rules back to favor them again, perpetuating a double standard. So what should the Republicans do?

    The damage that has been done to this country is staggering, and the above paragraph is just one example of the scope and difficulty in repairing it – one problem is how to keep a repair intact.

    I heard an analogy that the damage to this country, these past few years, is like someone blowing up a dam. There is the flood of the immediate aftermath, and the repair is difficult, time consuming, and expends a lot of resources and effort that should have been applied in positive productivity. Plus, the use of the dam is denied us until the repair can be completed. All this applies to politics and the freedoms that have been stripped from us.

    *This* is one danger of having a powerful government. The more powerful it is, the more damage it can inflict and the harder it is to repair.

    The uniqueness of this country is the freedom that its population had. Now that the tyrannical government has declared itself able to determine how we are to spend our own money (no other tyranny has ever had the audacity to do this), many more of our freedoms are at risk. The Democrats make no secret that they want to eliminate the rest of the Bill of Rights and gain even more control over our lives (several Amendments and other Articles have been changed through lack of enforcement, misinterpretations, and Supreme Court rulings). So much for our liberty.

    Another danger of a powerful government is that more power means more tyranny. As we have seen these past few years, government has controlled us over things even as small and seemingly meaningless as what seasonings we can put on our restaurant tables (e.g. salt), what light bulbs we may purchase, and what toilets we may put in our bathrooms. So much for the pursuit of happiness.

    This *is* a slippery slope, in that once they determined that these minor freedoms were no longer our choices to make, they went on to tell us how to spend our own money – resulting in coercion into making contracts that we don’t want to make for products that do not satisfy our needs, at prices that we can’t afford, and that violate our personal fundamental values. Further, they now may determine what medical care we are and are not allowed to receive. So much for our ability to live our lives.

    Mark Levin suggested that we invoke Article V of the US Constitution and hold a Convention to propose new amendments. Unfortunately, it will be professional politicians who will propose and vote upon these amendments, and these professionals are in their business because they like to have control over people. They have the attitude that if they give “their people” the ability to make their own choices, they will choose wrong, so the rulers have to make the choices for the people (which explains the mess that Michelle made of school lunches).

    One difference between the United States and the rest of the world is that it was not professional politicians or policy makers who created our founding documents. Our country was created by and for We the People, not by or for They the Rulers. Other countries were created by the rulers and for the rulers.

    Thus the style of writing in the US Constitution is different than any other constitution. We the People have all the rights, except for those we explicitly granted to the government. Other countries, including the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, list the rights of the people as though the government has conferred rights upon the people. Rights that are given can be taken away, whether given and taken by government or by We the People.

    Am I hopeful that the Republicans will do as Robert suggested? Yes. Do I expect them to? No. Their leadership is made of professional politicians, and they have proved that whatever enthusiasm that they had in 1994 has turned into cynical corruption in the intervening decades. As they arrived in Washington in 1994, they watched the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” in hopes that the new class would be more like Stewart’s character, Mr. Smith, but they have since turned into Raines’ character, Senator Paine.

    Robert,

    Preventing this corruption is why I believe in term limits. I know that the voters will just elect the same type of person that they elected before, but there was a time when these Republican “Paines” were Republican “Smiths.” It is just that over the years their voters elected the same people instead of the same type of people. There is, for example, no hope for getting San Francisco to elect anyone much different from Pelosi, but she did not start out being quite this tyrannical, either.

    As we saw in 2009, the Democrats did not believe in listening to We the People, as they sought a way to force their will upon us with the ACA. In the past year, the Republicans likewise only worked on repeal of the ACA until they realized that there was popular support for such repeal, then they changed their priorities instead of pressing the issue, thus they were able to seem to support our wishes without risking losing their real control over us.

    As DK said, above, “The zebra doesn’t change his stripes.” Even the Republican zebra.

  • Orion314

    I consider this site worthy of my viewing time, because the people posting here are people who think REASON , is a better solution to complex problems, as opposed to “feeling”..as one who has spent much time in practical problem solving as an engineer,military Veteran, I need to point out the obvious “camels nose in the tent” i.e. We have a DEEP SYSTEMIC political/government /corporate FASCISM problem. i.e. “How do we, as a society, remove RICH, CORRUPT, PSYCHOTIC, and probably truly evil people from power who control the means by which we elect people who hold this power over us?” DEMS/REPUBS? Two sides of the same bent worthless coin.
    Thomas Jefferson so wisely pointed out..”The tree of liberty MUST be watered with the BLOOD of TYRANTS” every 20 yrs or so….WE are SO LONG OVER DUE FOR THAT ACTION….Until and IF that happens, don’t hold your breath by just thinking we can vote our way out of this nightmare… . People like me who think the USC, the bill of “rights’ is a good idea and that our lawmakers must follow the laws they themselves help foster are, in this day and age, public enemy # 1, soon with a standing S.O.S. (shoot on site) order,, probably. Sooner or later, the “Butchers Bill” always comes due. Who will pick up that tab? Does anyone here really think the current POTUS is going to play nice because we ask him to? With the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month soon upon us, some food for thought..

  • Orion314

    P.S.
    “It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”
    Joseph Stalin

  • Pzatchok

    When the time comes change them to more equal, fare and logical

    Then to stop almost all future procedural rule changes the Republicans can make one great and overriding rule.

    No rules or procedures can change without a super majority vote. And then only after 6 more years pass will the rule change finally be enacted.

    At any time in that 6 years a majority vote can cancel and eliminate the rule change.

    No one will even try changing the rules because it would take far to long to implement and could almost always be stopped before they are enacted.
    No more will a single election allow any party or group to set things up all in their favor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *