Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Democrats Won't Win By Losing

One of our readers referred me to an interesting article last week. The article was at Politico and it was titled “Good News, Democrats, You’re Going to Lose!” The gist of the article is that the Democrats will be better off losing the Senate to the Republicans, as appears inevitable. The article makes some interesting points, but ultimately it is just sour grapes and it relies on biased assumptions.

According to the article, the issue is this. The Republicans will win the Senate. Far from being upset by this, the Democrats should be ecstatic because “the Democrats will get to kick back with a large tub of buttery popcorn and watch the Republican soap operate hit peak suds.” Specifically, the author thinks the Tea Party candidates will turn the Senate into a “sit-com” as “grandstanders like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz” go to war with the GOP leadership. This will push the Republicans to the loony fringes and turn the public off. Hence, in 2016, the public will be ready to embrace the Democrats with big sloppy wet kisses.

As proof, the author claims that Mitch McConnell has mapped out a confrontational strategy with Obama, whereby the Republicans will include all kind of fringe things in budget bills and dare Obama to veto them. He also claims that while the Republican leadership has defused the worst landmines in the primaries, they’ve done this by papering over their differences with their fringe. Finally, he notes that the Republicans no longer even talk about the things they normally stand for like cutting taxes.

I would add that, superficially, there is additional support for this in proclamations by fringers like Mike Huckabee who threatened this week to leave the GOP for failing to obsess enough about gays and abortion.

So this all sounds reasonable, right? Well, no.

The problem with this idea is that it fundamentally misunderstands much of what is going on. For starters, when has the opposition not mapped out a confrontational strategy against a president from another party... especially such an unpopular president? This idea means nothing, especially as McConnell is far too savvy to be pulled into anything stupid. In fact, even the author notes that the GOP leadership killed off any more shutdowns. So why should we believe that once McConnell controls the Senate, with few Tea Partiers in the Senate, that McConnell will suddenly let them run wild or embrace their lunacy to keep the peace? Don’t forget, this is the man who just successfully defended himself against the combined weight of every single Tea Party group in the country to win a crushing win in his primary.

Next, the author completely underestimates the importance of what happened in the primaries. The leadership didn’t rid itself of the fringe by “papering over” their disagreements! Ha! They went to war with the fringe -- Ted Cruz even whined about fringers being carpet-bombed by the evil leadership. The result was a party that crushed its fringe and retook control over itself. Not a single Tea Partier won a victory in this primary over an establishment candidate. And the effect has been dramatic. Indeed, since the end of the primaries, notice that you hear almost nothing but whimpers from the likes of FreedomWorks and the nutjobs who lost. Most disappeared back into the woodwork and the rest are busy trying to salvage their fundraising. Even Cruz has barely said a word against the party in months.

So what about calls to break away? Going into the primaries, the fringers genuinely thought they had the backing of the people. But the primaries exposed them as what they are – a fringe, even within the GOP. They know now that forming a separate party would do nothing but make them even less relevant. So now we know that not only can the party afford to lose them, but they can't afford to leave the party. This has become a paper threat.

For these reasons, this author is flat out wrong if he believes the GOP will stage a civil war. Not to mention, the Senate isn’t that kind of place anyways. The Senate is not a democracy and the Senate leader has too much power for a couple of malcontents to cause any real trouble. All they can do is talk, and the GOP leadership has an effective strategy to neuter that now.

As for not talking about tax cuts, the reason is that no one is listening to that issue. The Republicans have failed to sell the benefits of tax cuts for too long and the issue has gone cold. Instead, the public is worried about a lack of job, the cost of healthcare, the damage of Obamacare, the effects of the failure of Obama’s presidency, and protecting our society from intruders and foreign diseases and foreign religious nuts. You don’t talk tax cuts in that atmosphere.

The author also takes a shot at the GOP for failing to implement the recommendations of their post-2012 “autopsy,” but again, that shows a lack of knowledge. All the autopsy really said was that the GOP needs to implement a better technological approach to voter outreach. That has nothing to do with controlling the Senate.

This whole article strikes me as biased sour grapes. This author has a leftist view of the GOP as hopelessly fringey and he just assumes the GOP will act like Huffpo’s worst nightmare says they will. But the GOP is much better controlled and far less fringey than it was in 2012. Moreover, political parties have ways to hold their worst instincts in check when they assume power. Look at the Democrats, who squandered a supermajority in 2008-2010 because they were afraid to pull the trigger on anything. Look at Newt in the 1990s, who could have taken Reagan’s ideas to an extreme as all the think tanks on the right wanted, but who mainly tinkered with House procedures and then passed only a handful of truly significant bills.

I’m not saying things will go well or that talk radio will stop its fratricidal war against the GOP, but I am saying that the GOP is highly unlikely to implode through extremism because (1) it killed its extremists, and (2) the natural instinct of parties in power is to pander to the public to get more power, not go on an ideological revolution... and Mitch McConnell is too old school and savvy not to know that.



Kit said...

The more I see "even if we lose we win" articles from the Left the more I think the GOP is going to do well on Election Day.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Today, the Democrats announced they would stop funding ads for Allison Grimes in Kentucky. You only do that when you think you can't win anymore. That's more evidence the Republicans will do well.

And good news for Mitch McConnell.

Kit said...


That is good news!

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, It is, and it's just the tip of the iceberg. Unless something truly unexpected happens, the Republicans will take the Senate.

Kit said...

Please Todd Akin and Rick Santorum, for the love of God, do not ruin this for us!

BevfromNYC said...

I am still going to hold my breath simply because some of the races are just too close to call. McConnell/Grimes is not one of them and it never was going to be. And I think we can thank Todd Akins for rousting the RNC out of it's loser haze. It really made them understand that they have to be actively involved in grooming candidates on ALL levels. Or maybe it was my lengthy conversation with a RNC telemarketer with whom I ranted for 15 minutes about how they needed to come up with a plan to groom candidates with a "candidate training school" so the Todd Akins's of the RNC are prepared to NOT answer stupid questions with even more stupid answers.

Somehow they got the message with the extra added bonus of fighting vigorously to defeat those TP/Todd Akins-like candidates in the primaries.

BevfromNYC said...

Except in Louisiana where there are TWO Repub candidates. Landieu could have been toast, but now the TP spoiler has snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory.

Jason said...

I’m a Louisianan, and it’s a bit frustrating to have Maness drag down Cassidy. Fortunately, Cassidy leads in all runoff polls with Landrieu, so at worst Maness is delaying the inevitable. (For those who don’t know, LA has an open primary with the top two candidates going to a runoff if no one gets above 50 percent)

The problem in 2012 really wasn’t Akin. Akin blew up his own race. Republicans had a lot of well-established senate candidates for Democrat-held seats like Tommy Thompson (WI), George Allen (VA), Heather Wilson (NM), Rick Berg (ND), Dennis Rehberg (MT), and Connie Mack (FL) people that couldn’t be mistaken for Akin, that lost for a host of different reasons. The current crop of “offensive” candidates, those in a position to take Dem-held seats, is simply much better this time around.

BevfromNYC said...

Jason - Is there a runoff election before the general election?

BevfromNYC said...

Jason - I just got it. Mostly likely there will be a runoff between Landrieu and Cassidy after Nov 4 because Maness is going to keep the percentages under 50% most likely. Interesting.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Thanks for the rant! Apparently, it worked! LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Jason, The GOP's problem has been their message. For some time now, they've come across exactly as the Democrats have smeared them, with a particular emphasis on obsessively hating anyone who wasn't already part of the cult. That has hurt them a lot. Add in some candidates who turned out to be just awful, like crazies or people who couldn't keep their mouths shut or people defined the word bland, and things just kept getting worse.

What we need more than anything is for the party to adopt an actual platform aimed at winning over the hearts and minds of average Americans, and then to populate the ranks of our candidates with people who will push those ideas.

AndrewPrice said...

BTW, I just saw that the Democrats are polling their lowest level of popularity in 30 years, and Obama is at his lowest point too.

Jason said...

Bev, yep that's it. We're looking at a Cassidy-Landrieu runoff in December.

We ended up this way back in 2002, when the GOPer Suzanne Haik Terrell faced off against Landrieu and lost. Back then, the polls were largely a toss-up. This time, Cassidy's in the driver's seat. Landrieu hasn't lead a runoff poll since July.

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