Two months after Germany's surrender in World War II, British voters dumped the Conservative prime minister who had led the nation to victory -- Winston Churchill -- and replaced him with Clement Attlee, whose Labor Party had won the election in a landslide. Embittered by his defeat, Churchill spurned King George's offer of a knighthood. "I could not accept the Order of the Garter from my sovereign," he said, "when I have received the order of the boot from his people."
Last week, American voters gave Republicans the order of the boot, stripping them of at least 29 seats in the House of Representatives and six in the Senate, and once again making Democrats the kings of Capitol Hill. It was the GOP's worst showing in decades, and since Tuesday analysts galore have been reading the entrails. It is easy to be wise after the event. But consider the judgment rendered by one of the keenest minds in American politics, who explained nearly a week *before* the election why Republican candidates were about to take a beating: "The reason we are at this moment," former president Bill Clinton told a group of Democratic donors on Nov. 1, "is that they do not represent faithfully the Republicans and the more conservative independents in the country. Otherwise, we wouldn't be here tonight. This is a sweeping, deep, big thing." According to the nation's most popular Democrat, in other words, Republicans were about to be punished for having abandoned their Republican principles. Voters were going to demote the GOP not because its agenda had grown too conservative -- but because it hadn't been conservative enough.
Nov. 7 was a debacle for Republicans, not conservatives. Democrats gained power in Washington, but around the country there was no shortage of evidence that the nation's tectonic shift to the right is still ongoing. For example, another seven states approved constitutional amendments barring same-sex marriage; only in Arizona was a marriage amendment narrowly defeated. The backlash against the Supreme Court's disgraceful 2005 Kelo v. New London decision continued as well, with voters in 10 states adopting new laws to protect property owners from eminent domain abuse.