There was a lot of bad news last night, but if you're prolife, and/or conservative, and/or for limited government, it's not as bad as you might think.
One of the headlines I saw said something like: GOP conceded the middle -- uh, um, what?
It was the "middle" GOP'ers who went down in flames last night: DeWine, Chafee (actually a leftie, but by conventional wisdom, in the middle), Talent, and a bunch of House members. Yes, even Santorum -- while he was outspoken against abortion and on cultural issues, he was--like Dewine and others -- lousy on spending.
Meanwhile, many of the Democrats who won, or who were leading, were "conservatives" in their party. Look at Webb in Virginia, Tester who is leading in Montana (although Burns may pull it out); also, look at Ford who narrowly lost in Tennessee.
Many are trumpeting the defeat of the abortion ban in South Dakota. I note that it got something like 45% of the vote! And referenda are such a lousy way to govern--if I could, I'd get into the wayback machine to go back in time and somehow prevent the proliferation of the referendum. What a disaster this has been, and is, and will be, for our country. California is a wreck in large measure because of it.
In any case, it is certain the Democrats will control the House, and likely they will control the Senate. That will mean fits for the White House, and there will be a great deal of triumphalism on the part of the media and the left wing, and premature defeatism for many on the right.
Don't be fooled by the manipulative rhetoric of the past few weeks -- all those who, in order to get your vote, predicted the apocalypse if the Dems took power. Note: the GOP had majorities in both houses, and a President, and look how much of their promised agenda never happened (one of the reasons many GOP voters were miffed). Our system is much more complicated than people realize, and there are lots of ways to derail things. The Democrats will generate lots of activity, and they will pass some stuff, but they can't pass anything significant unless the GOP and the White House lay down (which they might -- they managed to pass bad stuff on their own, which helped cost them control).
Look, I'm sorry the President is going to have a miserable time for two years being investigated and subpoenaed and hassled by the newly empowered Democrats on Capitol Hill. But, (a), he brought it on himself and (b), life's tough. Also, however miserable that experience may prove to be for Bush, his folks, GOP partisans, and many others -- it also will prove effective in mobilizing opposition to the same. Reaction-counter-reaction.
Here in Ohio, Ken Blackwell went down to defeat in his race for governor. I feel bad about that, partly because I think he was the better candidate; partly because I wonder why his campaign was so ineffective; partly because of the injustice of it -- he wasn't really part of the Taft-Big Government-govern like a liberal crowd that went down to spectacular defeat yesterday. The Taft-DeWine-Voinovich crowd finally let Blackwell have the helm right after they ran the ship into the iceberg, after ignoring for years the warning, "iceberg ahead!"
Our new governor, Ted Strickland . . . well God bless him and good luck. He seems to have won on the platform of, "I'm not Taft; I'm an honest and pleasant person--oh, and I did I mention I'm a minister?" The big issue clearly is the economy and jobs and I fail to see what he is going to do meaningfully about that. His plan, as far as I can tell, is to continue increasing government spending, only to shift it around some, to create "incentives." Weak tea. Ohio and Michigan are deserts of job-creation in the midst of a nation going wild creating jobs. It's been that way for quite awhile. The only sensible solution is to look at what makes Ohio an unwelcoming climate for business- and job-creation, and fix it.
If the national recovery continues, the situation in Ohio almost--almost--has to get better eventually; perhaps that will enable our new governor to seem successful.
There's actually an opportunity now, for the Republicans in the legislature, to do with Strickland what the national GOP did, for awhile, under Clinton: push their agenda, and give Strickland the choice of jumping on-board, or being on the wrong side. As far as spending and size of government, the best years we had, nationally, were the first few years of GOP control of Congress, under Clinton.
Meanwhile, we have the tragi-comedy of Brown over Dewine (is that a capital W or not?). Sherrod Brown decided it was time for the reincarnation of Howard Metzenbaum, and he couldn't have found a more perfect foil than sad-sack Mike DeWine. (I voted for him, by the way.) Brown struck me as a not-very-bright bellower of class-warfare rhetoric--he'll do just fine in the Senate, but it won't do Ohio much good. One silver lining is I rather doubt he'll have the energy and determination that Metzenbaum had -- for all his faults, one of the most effective advocates in the Senate in many decades. I suspect he'll continue spouting nonsense, posturing as the "friend of the little guy," just what we need.
Elections come and go--life goes on. There are few, if any, permanent victories or defeats. There are certain principles and values worth fighting for, and they remain. I haven't looked closely, but my guess is that the issues I care about didn't fair too badly last night -- many of the GOP'ers who went down to defeat were no good on the things I and many likeminded folks care about.