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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

US mid-term elections: Rove frizzles « Previous | |Next »
November 8, 2006

I've been watching Fox News on the US mid-term Congressional elections on satellite cable television. The Fox Report is pretty high energy, partisan and aggressive channel, strongly visual and very in your face. What is expressed is that part of the US that is gungho on Iraq, is fundamentally religious, anti-immigration, sees secular humanism as the political Left (liberal), reckons a great economy is for the richest 10% of the country and holds that the top 10% should have yet more tax cuts.

The Republican talking heads on Fox cable television talk in terms of local politics, step around the national issue of the Iraq war or corruption, hold fast to a late Republican surge, and deeply fear the liberal Democrats. Their policy coherence is being anti-Democrat: they hate liberalism ---the Democrat leadership is deemed to be liberal (eg., Rep Nancy Pelosi is routinely dismissed as a San Francisco liberal). Their line is that if you vote for the Democrats they'll raise your taxes and let terrorists threaten your family. If the Democrats win America loses etc etc. The Republicans talk about conservative Democrats as one of their own, and when they mention Iraq, as distinct from national security, they talk about more troops for Iraq. No surrender. They just love to unleash the dogs of war.

The Republicans look suprisingly confident----overconfident, arrogant even, given the way the electoral tide is flowing away from them. Are they already in denial? The most plausible picture of power is that the swing is against the modern GOP and Washington as a one party town. That swing implies the Rove machine will frizzle rather than sizzle. This picture has the Democrats winning 20-30 seats and taking a narrow control of the House, while failing to win the Senate. So we have a divided Congress. Gridlock?

I will keep an eye on the Senate rather than the House. My focus is on the breaches in the Republican firewall that has been erected against the electorate's repudiation of both the Bush Whitehouse and the way the Republican majority has run Congress. Will the firewall hold? The Democrats need to pick up 6 Senate seats as well as hold their own marginal seats.
Update 1
CNN projects (very early, so I presume its computer modelling based on exit polling and early returns) that the Democrats have picked up 3 Senate seats: in Ohio (Sherrod Brown), Pennsylvania (Bob Casey Jr) and Rhode Island (Sheldon Whitehouse). The moderate Republican Senator Lincoln Chaffey, who voted against the war, is pro choice etc) lost in Rhode Island, so it is a rejection of the Republican label, not conservatism. So its 3 Senate seats to go.

The Republican Senators do talk about doing the will of God a lot. It's as if they have a hotline to the Lord. The new Democrat Representatives are young, socially conservative and southern and they speak about faith and family values. Will they pull the Democrat party to the centre? So what happens when the Democrats win the House? Will the party move to the centre? There is lots of Democrat talk about the center and being moderate etc etc. This is a deeply religious country.

It does not look good for the fiscally irresponsible Republicans as the sphere of Republican power has contracted because of Bush and Iraq. That is bad news for the GOP. What happens to Bush's imperial Presidency? Will Bush remain locked into the Republican base? Will Bush move to the centre if the balance of power shifts to the Democrats? Who will be purged? Rumsfeld as secretary of defense? Scapegoats are needed to ease the pain.

Update 2
The Democrats are likely to make gains in the state governorships. They have won the House. The investigations and testimony -- under oath -- about Iraq will now begin. This oversight role is the main weapon of a Democrat House of Representatives under Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Democrats are talking in terms of the politics of change and a new direction. The Republican talking heads new talking point is that Democratic victories are the result of Democrats “running as conservatives.” The old talking point--- that the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses'---has been dropped. Not even the talking heads on cable television can say that the American people voted for the terrorists.

Misssouri (McCaskill) has gone to the Democrats. The Democrats still need another 2 Senate seats to breach the Republican firewalll. Virginia and Montana are the competitive Senate seats, and they are still in play, with Virginia and Montana looking promising for the Democrats. Will the firewall be breached? It may well be.

Update 3
The Democrats have won Montana (Joe Tester) Though there will definitely be a recount in Virginia, Virginia looks to be in Democrat (Jm Webb) hands. It is now looking as if the Democrat's are over the Senate line, and they have gained control of the Senate as well as the House. Rove frizzled. The White House stuck to its "stay the course" guns for way too long.

A Democratic-controlled Congress means that there is a balance of power shift in Washington and so there will be some checks and balances. Bush is looking isolated in the Whitehouse. The Republicans sound angry and bitter and they look as if they will turn on themselves. So what happens to the Democrats promise of new directions in minimium wage, healthcare, education, prescription drugs and broken budgets? Will this legislation face a Bush veteo? Or will the Democrat Congress become bogged down in investigations and testimony under oath?

Update 4
The American nation continues to split sharply along North-South lines. Chuck Todd, in a commentary over at National Journal says that:

A Category 5 political storm hit the shores of the Northeast on Tuesday, realigning the region from a moderately competitive terrain between the two parties to solidly Democrat. The Northeast for congressional Democrats is now the mirror image of the South for congressional Republicans. Like any strong storm, the force weakened away from its epicenter. The farther away from the Northeast, the more competitive the GOP performed. But despite hanging tough in other regions around the country, Republicans suffered their worst midterm defeat in a generation.

The moderates have gone. The base stands strong. Todd says that 'the GOP will only isolate itself even more if it takes a turn to the right. Republicans will not regain the majority if they continue to grow away from the inner-suburban voter. Missouri and Virginia, for instance, sent that message loud and clear.'
Over at Tapped Tom Schaller says that:
The regional realignment over the past 40 years, which slowly converted Dixiecrats into Republicans, has now entered its final stage, as voters north of the Mason-Dixon line and west of the Mississippi provide a countervailing response to the southern-led Republican majority.This transformation is occurring at the Senate, House, and gubernatorial levels. Indeed, because Rust Belt Republicans will be replaced by progressive Democrats, regardless of the final 2006 results, both chambers of the 110th Congress will become more progressive among the growing shares of Democrats and more conservative among the shrinking ranks of Republicans.

The GOP moderates are paying for their party’s rightward shift.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:47 AM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1)

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