Accuracy in Media

Not all the votes have been counted, but the results are clear and the Republicans lost big in yesterday’s elections.  As a result this election will be analyzed for years as to why the GOP which had won control of the House in 1994 and the Senate in 2002 are now the minority party.

Let me try and shed some light on why this occurred.

In 1994 the Republicans swept into power on the back of a massive anti-incumbency wave coupled with the promise of “The Contract with America” which was a brilliant plan hatched by Newt Gingrich.  We can argue about the actual effectiveness of the contract and the Republicans never did fulfill all the promises made in the contract, but that didn’t really matter.  It was a gimmick that worked.  Voters felt that the Republicans would really do something and they did start fast once they took office.  Can anyone tell me what set the Republicans apart from the Democrats this year?  The Democrats talked a better game. 

It didn’t help that the Republicans who had always preached fiscal responsibility while lambasting wasteful Democratic spending started to spend like the opposition.  It seemed they never met an earmark they didn’t like and the budget began to resemble a hot air balloon that would only continue to soar higher and higher and never return to land.

Another problem for the Republicans is that the Democrats not only raised more money than the Republicans, but that they ran candidates that were very conservative.  For example the NRA reported that except in the Jim Talent race in Missouri the grades of the incoming Democratic Senators are basically the same as the defeated Republicans.  This was largely the same when it came to issues like immigration and the environment which only made it easier to vote for change.

Also what exactly was the strategy this year? It appeared to me that the GOP spent more time on the defensive than the offensive.  If you recall Clinton won in 1992 on the theme “It’s the Economy Stupid.” Well it still is except that it’s a good economy that the media has largely ignored and so did the candidates.  Instead they were defending their positions on the war.  Not exactly a winning formula. 

Finally it didn’t help that they became lazy and arrogant.  Many of the incumbents lost because they didn’t think they would lose and therefore didn’t raise enough money to run an effective campaign causing problems when they finally realized that they might lose after all. 

The Republicans never intended to become so distanced from reality, but in short order became victims of a naturally corrupt system.  I truly believe that the class of 1994 had some great people, but over time they realized that to stay in office and in power that they would have to often compromise their beliefs.  Several left office rather than do that.

Hopefully the Republicans have learned a valuable lesson from this. Maybe they should have studied Lord Acton who said “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” 

If they had they might still be the majority party today.

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