The worst of previously envisioned scenarios played out for the GOP last Tuesday night, with the loss of both the House of Representatives and the US Senate to Democratic control. The sweeping victory saw several vulnerable Republican incumbents – including Senators Rick Santorum, George Allen, Jim Talent, and Lincoln Chaffee – picked off, as well as several open seats going to the Democrats. Further, not one Democratic incumbent was defeated – a resounding statement against the status quo, and against the previous leadership of this country.
Despite attempts to spin the victory as a repudiation of the Republicans as a party, and of conservatism as an ideology, Tuesday’s result was, in actuality, neither.
The victory experienced by national Democrats was a direct response by America to a governing party which had, by and large, forsaken its principles and abandoned those beliefs which propelled it to power in the first place.
When the Republicans took over Congress in 1994, they did so with – and as a result of – a platform built on limited government, entitlement reform, tax relief, and a balanced federal budget. Over the twelve years since, the GOP lost sight of those goals and beliefs, forgot the reasons that they had been elected, and strayed from those principles. Massive spending bills, chock full of earmarks, passed the Congress one after another, record deficits and debt were reached, and the largest new entitlement program in nearly half a century was created in Medicare Part D.
Furthermore, the GOP lost its moral compass during its time in control of Congress, giving in to the siren call of money, media approval, and base desires – the tangible benefits of power – in the varying forms of lobbyist deals, the page scandal, and the overall compromise of principles.
These shortfalls can be corrected, and it is possible that a stint in the minority could be just the jumpstart that the Republican Party needs to once again remember why it was selected by the American people to govern in the first place.
One exception to the anti-GOP and anti-incumbent trend was the state of Georgia, where the results of November 7 reflected just the opposite sentiment. Governor Sonny Perdue, the first Republican in the state’s high office since Reconstruction, won an overwhelming victory in his bid for reelection, defeating his challenger, Democratic Lt. Governor Mark Taylor, by twenty points.
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