Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Post-Election: Don't Panic

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.


Terry said...

Good post, Father.

Relocation back to Ohio is a very distinct possibility for my family, so the Democratic gains there truly hit home. I actually think in the long run, this will be good not only for Ohio, but all of the country.

After a fairly lengthy relationship with the American people, the Pubs became fat and lazy and saw so reason to continue the romance. Now that they've been dumped, they'll have to return to the gym and get themselves back into shape as well as remember what made them so attractive. Slowly but surely, the power mongers like DeLay are being weeded out and hopefully will be replaced by those more interested in principle than power.

I'm also optimistic about some of the Democrats like Heath Shuler who won. They'll force the liberal power block to really think hard about the agenda they want to foist upon the American people. I also optimistically believe their victory might actually force some bi-partisanship and civility too often lacking across the aisle these days.

Jay Anderson said...

Excellent post, Father. I was going to post an election wrap-up at my blog, only to come here and find that you'd done a much better job than I would have. So instead, I'll link to yours.

JP said...

I think the electorate is expecting more from the Loyal Opposition than indictments, investigations, and impeachment. None of the swing state district Democrats ran on this. The DNC ran a perfect bait and switch campagin. They ran as conservatives, but will govern as liberals. The fortunes of the GOP are not so bad that a few years of Pelosi and Reid can't cure.

Rich Leonardi said...

Fr. Fox,

I linked to your post and added a few thoughts of my own:

I more or less echo Fr. Fox's sentiments, but with an important caveat. The geopolitical implications of this election are ominous. Defeatists in Western Europe and Jihadists everywhere will be emboldened by a Speaker Pelosi and a Chairman Murtha. Heck, the Jihadists didn't even wait for election day. Here is what Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nassrallah told Arab audiences on Halloween:

"The Americans will gather their belongings and leave this region - the entire region. They have no future whatsoever in our region. They will leave the Middle East, and the Arab and Islamic worlds, like they left Vietnam. I advise all those who place their trust in the Americans to learn the lesson of Vietnam, and to learn the lesson of the South Lebanese Army with the Israelis, and to know that when the Americans lose this war—and lose it they will, Allah willing—they will abandon them to their fate, just like they did to all those who placed their trust in them throughout history."

Nasrallah is probably recarpeting his bunker to celebrate last night's victory.

Osama Bin Laden famously said "when the people see a strong horse and a weak horse, they naturally gravitate toward the strong horse."

How strong is our horse looking this morning?

Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

I dunno Father, it looks to me as though, in race after race, America embraced abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, gay marriage, and numerous other horrors with a great bear hug and a wet kiss.

More importantly, I believe that the leadership of the GOP, never that strong on the life issues to begin with, has come to the conclusion that they are not winning issues for Republican candidates. The strongest GOP '08 contenders today are all pro-abortion.

Too, the U.S. Catholic bishops have been quite inaudible this year on the question of Catholic pro-abortion politicians. John Paul II said that it was heresy to say that one could be Catholic and pro-abortion. Well, the bishops have been silent and one after another, Catholic politicians have taken center stage to link their Catholic identities to their pro-abortions views and tell us that that was OK. What kind of bishop permits members of his flock to stand up and preach heresy without consequence? The answer appears to be most American Catholic bishops.

(If I may be permitted a local example: The race for Cook County Board President here in Chicago featured two Catholic candidates. The Democrat ran campaign ads saying the people couldn't vote for the Republican because he was pro-life. But the Republican wasn't pro-life! Why doesn't Cardinal George even try to put a stop to this scandal?)

I'm a social conservative who is all for limited government. But too many fiscal conservatives aren't willing to be pro-life. Until we can persuade our own party, what hope can we have for our nation?

Local Man said...

"How strong is our horse looking this morning?"

Oh, good grief. We now have a Congress that (I hope) won't rubber stamp the staggering ineptitude of the Bush administration. If things go well, then questions about that should have been posed years ago will finally get asked. If it takes hearings and subpoenas to get answers, then so be it.

Our horse is stronger than ever, you silly goose.

Rich Leonardi said...

Curious that you don't dare show your cowardly face around my site, Local Man. Your anonymous vitriol usually lasts about twenty minutes before, whoosh, it gets flushed down the cyber sewer where it belongs.

Local Man said...

Rich, I don't post at your site because you can't abide opposing points of view. That's fine; it's your blog and you make the rules. But what's the point of my posting there if you're going to delete what I write?

I'm curious, which part of my post above do you consider vitriolic, Rich? Is it that I referred to you as a "silly goose"? If I'd used "gander," would that have been okay? Or is it just the fact that I have the timerity to disagree with your metaphorically-stretched pronouncements?

Curious that you don't dare show your cowardly face around my site, Local Man.

You write that as if you're threatening to beat me up. Do you actually think I'm afraid to post on your blog? I realize it's a hackneyed expression, but you have issues, Rich. Perhaps Fr Fox can provide emotional guidance.

Catholic Wife and Mother said...

Spot on, Father.

You're definitely correct about that referenda nonsense. Get rid of it!

And, yes, there are few, if any, permanent victories or defeats. Therefore, we shouldn't worry too much. Who can forget Gingrich's gloating, over a decade ago? When the GOP took control, there wasn't exactly the overturning of agendas that he'd predicted.

In the meantime, it's time for the Republicans to wake up and figure out why it is they lost. Hint to TPTB within the GOP: you're better off learning this from blogs than the leftist media!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with the "we shouldn't worry too much" line of thought. I do worry every single day that 4,000 kids in this country lose their lives while settle back & think "its not so bad". The fact that 45% of the citizens of SD tried to stand up for the rights of people before they're born is a good thing...until you realize that 55% still don't get it.
Local Man, I agree with Bush's "staggering ineptitude" on just about every issue but the one that counts: trying to be a voice for the voiceless. Face it, its just like the issue of slavery. No amount of calling abortion right or pretending it doesn't matter that much is going to make it so.

Catholic Wife and Mother said...

Hey, anon:

Bush as the voice for the voiceless? Such as giving his stamp of approval on Plan B?

Go look in Father's archives, this was all discussed on Aug 24, when Plan B was approved. I learned things from that post and the comments that I didn't know. . . and I'd considered myself a fairly educated pro-lifer.

Anonymous said...

"Curious that you don't dare show your cowardly face around my site" -- Rich Leonardi

Rich, you ought to run, not walk, to a doctor. You need psychological help.

"Father Barry" said...


I had two thoughts after election night. First, to get some sleep. And second, to see what you had to say about it today.

As I sorted through my own thoughts on the matter, I realized that the dialogue we had a couple months ago during the Plan B events must have impacted me more than I thought at the time.

Now, as then, I remain unwilling to be quite as optimistic about the way the three branches and two parties "will" work together, even if I agree with you about how they "should" do it.

And I think the loss of Santorum pains me much more than it does you.

But I also think there is a definite bright side to this loss. And I think you've nailed it. There is a certain way in which this falls into the "whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger" camp.

And last time I checked, we're definitely not dead. Fat and lazy, maybe. But that, we can change.

(Here's how Rush put it: "You can always count on the Democrats, at some point, to revive conservatism in this country by being who they are -- and who they are is very liberal as we all know. The normal ebb and flow and cyclical nature of politics is obvious. It's just so [edited for priest blog compliance] frustrating to have made such progress in 1994 and it happened here again what happened then. Two years after '94, the conservatives made the mistake of thinking that the country had become conservative, and they stopped being ideological, and they stopped teaching. They stopped leading a movement and began what they began. It happened here again. The assumption that: "Okay, conservatism is in power now. The people like who we are. They like who we are. Stop teaching."

You can never stop teaching.")

Che said...

The Democrats won because the American people wanted the country to move to the political left. It is that simple.

Anonymous said...

From a dim bulb in Australia, What is GOP?

"Father Barry" said...

For the Australian bulb: GOP stands for Grand Old Party. Otherwise known as the Republican Party. Not sure where the term comes from, though the OED says it was first used in 1876. I think.

mallys said...

In defense of SD, so many people have been snowed by the "exceptions for rape and incest" fallacies that a large number of those who voted "no" stated that they would have voted "yes" with exceptions. What we couldn't get them to see, over the din of the oxymoronically named "Campaign for Healty Families" (for a shell organization for Planned Parenthood/NARAL, mind you) that those babies were just as real. They couldn't choose the baby "over" the mother...

We also couldn't get them to see that any exception that included an abortion would be misused by PP to widen the numbers of killings they were being paid to perform. (You want an abortion, we'll just SAY you were raped and it will be fine.)

Sigh...we still have a long way to least 6 percentage points.

But our legislators, Democratic and Republican, were awesome in passing the bill with 2/3 majority, bipartisan. And our governor signed the bill. The two co-sponsors and the governor were all re-elected.

ron kozar said...

Rich Leonardi may be a bit hasty deleting comments from his blog, but he is absolutely right about one thing: commenting anonymously is cowardly.

Maybe one of you anonymous commenters can explain why you're afraid (and isn't "afraid" the right word for it?) to associate your name with your opinions.

Kristin said...

We lost a great man in Santorum. He was a man of courage, integrety, honor, and vision in a political world of corruption. He saw himself as a public servant rather than a public star. And he was brilliant. He understood the real threats facing us from abroad. I am a pro-life voter and abortion was of course the most important issue, but this time, national defense was a very close second. I don't trust the Dem's with national security. Critize the Bush administration all you want but they kept us safe for 5 years.

Big Tex said...

The GOP abandoned it's conservative values in order to pander to more people. They were not content being the majority... they wanted a larger majority. In compromising their conservative values to try and appeal to a broader base, they lost ground because their values became nothing more than mush. They stood for nothing.

Jack said...

Far Right wing Catholics are weird.
Better duck when Our Blessed Lord
starts overturning your tables...

Mickbic said...

Has the abortion issue ever been framed in terms of tort law? Most particularly the notion that there is negligent infliction of emotional distress when a woman undergoes abortion and another woman wishes she herself did not always miscarry after conceiving a child.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the amateur political analysis. The faithfull desperately need it as they cannot find it elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the sacrements and saving of souls are being attended to by......?

Father Martin Fox said...

Why anonymous, anonymous?