While the losses were not large for the sixth year of a sitting president -- a net of six Senate seats and 30-odd House seats -- the significance of Nov. 7 is huge and the consequences will be historic.
But it is crucial to sift out what the nation was saying and what it was not saying. Nov. 7 was a referendum on George Bush, the Iraq war and the Republican Party, and, undeniably, a repudiation of all three. Tuesday's rout is what happens to a hubristic party that leads a nation into an unnecessary and unwise war, and presents that nation with a congressional face of self-indulgence and corruption.
But the nation that rejected Bush and the Republicans did not reject conservatism. To the contrary, it seemed to want to punish the prodigal sons for abandoning the faith of their fathers.
What did America vote against?
It voted against Bush's war of democratic imperialism and the mismanagement of that war. It voted against Jack Abramoff, Duke Cunningham and Mark Foley. It voted against a party that postures as conservative while indulging in a six-year pig-out on the taxpayers' tab, the altarpiece of which was a $250 million "bridge to nowhere."
What did America not vote against? It did not vote against tax cuts or conservative judges or a security fence. How do we know? Because no Democrat in a hotly contested race said he would raise taxes, reject Supreme Court nominees like John Roberts and Samuel Alito or grant amnesty for illegal aliens.
The principal beneficiary of the election may be Nancy Pelosi, but this election was no mandate for an ultraliberal feminist who spent much of the campaign in protective custody so America would not see what they would be getting when they dumped Denny Hastert.
But if this was no mandate for a new "progressive era," as the media are trying to portray it, what was it a mandate for?
The answers are apparent.
The nation agrees with the Democratic Party that the minimum wage should be raised and a cost-benefit analysis done on Bush trade deals that leave Wal-Mart cluttered with cheap Chinese goods, while hollowing out American manufacturing and converting company towns into ghost towns.
The open-borders crowd is chortling that Randy Graf and J.D. Hayworth went down to defeat, but deliberately ignores the far more relevant fact that Arizonans voted even tougher restrictions on state benefits for illegal aliens.
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