It’s morning on November 4, and if conservatives learn the lessons yesterday’s elections taught, it can be morning in America again soon.
Yesterday, two ideological conservative candidates won big victories. And today is the day we shall exile to political Siberia all those Republican “moderates” and high-priced consultants who say principled, focused conservatives can’t win.
They were wrong this year, as wrong as they have been every year since the sainted Barry Goldwater lost in 1964. It’s something Republicans had forgotten. But now, thanks to Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie (and some guy named Hoffman), the Republican Party can relearn the lesson history has taught so many times.
Voters are angry: they’re angry with the continued economic slump, with the absurdity of the “jobless recovery” and with the Obama spending spree which has already caused more government spending in one year than we’ve spent since 1776. Liberals have already spent our grandchildren’s fortunes. The libs should be against abortions, because they need those future earners to pay the bills they’re running up.
Who are these angry people? They’re a group far bigger than the Republican base, which suffered too long under the oxymorinic “big-government conservatism” ideas of George W. Bush. Voters — independent voters such as the Tea Partyers, who are people not given to political activism — are angry about what Obama, Pelosi and Reid are doing to the America they grew up in, changing the fundamentals of government that made America the freest and most productive nation in history.
They vented their anger in three key races yesterday: the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey and the oddest congressional contest in many years — the national rebellion against the Republican establishment that erupted in New York’s 23rd district. In NY-23 prominent conservatives from Fred Thompson to Sarah Palin to the Tea Partyers drove “Republican” Dede Scozzafava out of the race and almost elected the unknown Doug Hoffman on the Conservative Party line, not the Republican line.
Virginia Governor-elect Bob McDonnell won as a conservative happy warrior, his smiling competence overwhelming the quavering negativity of R. Creigh Deeds. McDonnell promised smaller government, less taxes and more freedom and won in a landslide. Deeds and his running mates — a negative trio of libs that only the Washington Post could love — were all rejected by purple-state Virginia voters.
McDonnell made an issue of Obama’s agenda, and Deeds — having been an enthusiastic surrogate for Obama in the 2008 election — failed to convince voters that he didn’t mean all the nice things he said about candidate Obama in 2008.
Jon Corzine said that he was a “partner” with the Obama White House. Deeds wanted voters to believe that he didn’t know where it was. And Dede Scozzafava managed to not wow the voters of New York’s largest congressional district with her “I was a Republican before I found out the definition of the word” campaign.
Coming into Tuesday’s elections, Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell was ahead by about a dozen points, incumbent New Jersey Democrat Jon Corzine was in a dead heat with Republican Chris Christie, and no one seemed to know what the heck was going on in New York’s 23rd district, but it seemed as though insurgent conservative Doug Hoffman was ahead by about five points.
Through the summer campaign months, Corzine had emphatically described Obama as his “partner in the White House.” But Corzine’s popularity shrank as Chris Christie’s grew, the Republican and third party candidate Chris Daggett tried to be a spoiler. Obama went to New Jersey three times to campaign for Corzine, to no avail. Corzine lost the state Obama won the year before with 56% of the vote. 89% of New Jersey voters, according to the exit polls, were worried about the economy.
It was a bad week for the chief liberal, President Obama, and his party. Ford — the only major automaker not owned by the government — announced record profits while the Obama former car czar announced that $25 billion loaned to GM was lost, as was at least the first $4 billion loaned to Chrysler.
And that came on the same day that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that the Obamacare nationalization of our health care system may not be accomplished this year. Yesterday, Reid said, "We’re not going to be bound by any timelines.” But it was only last July that President Obama said, “[I] f you don’t set deadlines in this town things don’t happen.”
If Reid says it can’t be done in the Senate this year, how many of the House Blue Dogs are going to fear Pelosi’s wrath if she insists they vote on a healthcare bill this year?
The clearest message to the Blue Dogs came from Virginia where more than 70% of voters told exit pollers they were concerned about federal spending (and 85% said they were dissatisfied with the state of the economy). And almost that percentage — just about 60% at last count — voted for McDonnell and his two running mates, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Attorney General-elect Ken Cuchinelli giving the Republicans a clean sweep of the top three state offices.
Through the campaign, Deeds insisted he wasn’t an “Obama Democrat.” But then he brought Obama in to motivate the voters who gave Obama a six-point Virginia win last year. He failed on both counts.
It was just a year ago — October 3, 2008, to be precise — that Deeds wrote an op-ed in a Roanoke paper that said, “Obama knows that we have to change both the policies in Washington and the politics…That’s why I’m proud to support Obama for president. He believes that we can build a strong economy, an energy-independent future, ensure a quality education for every child and reform our broken health-care system — not by dividing us, but by uniting us.”
But Obama has divided us, not united us, and voters didn’t buy Deeds’ big government message. Independent voters swung decisively to McDonnell. And now the Virginia governor-elect is one of the most significant leaders in the national Republican Party. Will they embrace him and the Tea Party independents? If they don’t, they will lose in 2010 and 2012.
In New Jersey, Chris Christie — who is as chubby as Sandra Bullock is thin — shucked off Corzine’s partnership with Obama and capitalized on the Democrat’s enormous unpopularity.
Christie — who ran a good campaign — benefited from Corzine’s unpopularity but, as in Virginia, the people who voted were entirely angry with their unrepresentative government.
In NY-23, the most fun was had since, well, since the last time a conservative seized a New York election, which was way back in 1984 when James Buckley — WFB’s brother — seized a senate seat from the Dems. Deidre “Dede” Scozzafava was chosen to run on the Republican ticket by a small gang of Republican bosses who apparently didn’t know or care that she was more of a liberal Democrat than a Republican.
Scozzafava favors abortion, gay marriage and the unions’ favorite project, “card check”, which would deny employees a secret ballot in unionization elections. When conservatives rallied to Hoffman, Scozzafava dropped out and promptly endorsed Bill Owens, the Democratic candidate, which caused Rush Limbaugh to accuse her of “bestiality” for having “screwed every RINO in the country.” (Those of us in the scribbling class only wish we’d thought of that first.)
But what Rush said was precisely correct. We need no more Scozzafavas and many more McDonnells, Christies and Hoffmans.
Hoffman fought a good fight, and lost to Owens by about the same 5 points that Scozzafava (who remained on the ballot) took. Does that prove conservatives were wrong for objecting to Scozzafava and rallying to Hoffman? No, all it proves is that we didn’t do it soon enough to make a decisive difference. And it proves that the Republican establishment should be mindful that what happened in NY-23 can — and should — happen again in places such as Florida.
The Obama White House and their amen media chorus will spin these results like broadcast Stakhanovites. They will insist (on the basis of several polls) that Obama isn’t the issue, that his personal popularity is still very high. Yes, but the same polls show his policies — his agenda of more spending than we can afford and weakness in the war — are highly unpopular.
Conservatives should take heart from that, and from these results. The personal popularity of the president is of no import: the enormous unpopularity of his policies and his agenda prove redundantly that people will vote against liberals and for conservatives if the latter run on the ideology — the integrated system of assertions, beliefs and principles — that comprises American conservatism.
Until yesterday, it had been at least a decade since I felt that I was voting for a candidate rather than against his opponent. I felt very good voting for Bob McDonnell yesterday. I look forward to feeling that good voting for other principled conservatives in the years to come.
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