Thursday, November 09, 2006

Election 2006 Postmortem

Here in Iowa, Republican Jim Nussle lost to Democrat Chet Culver by over 85,000 votes in the governor’s race. Libertarian candidate Kevin Litten received about 5,000 votes, which means each person who voted Libertarian could have voted for Nussle 16 times each and Nussle would have still lost. I would imagine that margins like that were pretty common across the country. So I don’t want to hear any Republicans whining that the Libertarians split their vote and cost them the election. The Republicans were perfectly able to lose this one themselves. But why?

Of course the elephant in the room is the war in Iraq. But we were in Iraq in 2004 and Iowa went to Bush, the Republicans retained their majorities in Congress, and South Dakota even gave Senate Democrat Leader Tom Daschle his walking papers.

So what changed since ‘04? Answer: The Republicans alienated their base. Back then the paleo-conservatives and libertarians in the party had plenty of bones to pick with the elected Republicans, most notably the fact that they were spending money like whores in a crack house. But in ‘04 many of us were willing to give Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iraq and give the Republicans one last chance to put their house in order. They did not.

If there was one moment when I slapped my forehead and realized that the Republican Party had completely abandoned its guiding principles, it was shortly before Hurricane Katrina hit. I remember driving home from work and hearing President Bush on the radio hailing the new waste-ridden monstrosity of a transportation bill he had just signed. This was the one with 6,371 pork projects tacked onto it, including the now infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska. Bush said it was a good bill that would provide jobs. D’oh!

The conservative response to this is, “How many jobs would have been created if those billions of dollars had been retained by those who earned it, to buy manufactured goods from retailers or to save and invest?“ I had to wonder if it was F.D.R. or L.B.J. that I was hearing, but no, it was G.W.B. To add insult to injury, after Katrina struck, Bush said they would spend “whatever it took” to rebuild the Gulf Coast. This was the straw that broke the elephant’s back. Fiscal restraint, states’ rights, the 10th Amendment, and limited government all were gone from the Republican lexicon.

During the primaries heading into ‘06, the RNC actively slit the throats of conservative candidates in favor of moderates that they felt were more “electable.” (If you think being a moderate made you “electable” during this election, go talk to Iowa’s own incumbent wet-noodle-Republican Jim Leach, if you can find the Wendy’s that he’s working at now.) It was obvious that the RNC had been co-opted by neo-conservatives who didn’t care a whit about any constitutional or ideological issue. They only cared about one thing: consolidating their power. And now that power is gone.

It appears I picked a good year to come over to the Libertarian Party, the Republican boat seems to be sinking. They may have to throw some ballast overboard. I suggest they start with a few neo-cons.


Bawb said...

I heartily agree. But will the Republikrats ever "get it"? Even Limbaugh, usually a GOP cheerleader, is slamming them for the same reasons you mention, and was chastizing them about their lack of conservatism before the election. My entire circle of friends and acquaitances on the right were all in the same boat. But did anyone in the GOP listen?

Ben said...

Time will tell.