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A Tale of Two Washingtons

Editor's Note: In the November issue of Townhall Magazine, where this column originally appeared, RedState's Bryan Pruitt takes a look at our nation's capital after the midterms.


By the time you are reading this, we will know the outcome of the midterm elections. The House of Representatives will stay in the hands of the Republicans, and many pundits have assumed for months that the Senate will switch hands. As summer turned into fall and voters turned their attention back to politics, polls started to tighten. There are outliers. Some very smart people are predicting a wave for Republicans. But most see a path to a thin majority for Republicans, as well as the slim possibility that they miss the mark by one or two seats. Here is an idea of what Washington will look like the day after either given scenario.


Break out the champagne and start celebrating. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is retired from his perch as majority leader and if he has any decency at all, makes the quick decision to not run for reelection in 2016. This gives Republicans a real chance for a pick-up in the next cycle to pad their majority. Because Republicans have many more seats to defend in 2016 and 2018, we must seize on any opportunity to run up the score.

All eyes are on whether Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ascends to the throne. Grassroots conservatives hope for someone, anyone really, to step forward to offer an alternative leadership option. Keep your eyes on any of the senators considering a run for the presidency in 2016. If any one of them decides against a run, challenging McConnell is a great opportunity. It is critically important we give the Senate caucus a real conservative choice. Make no mistake, if there is a choice, this vote will be the first on many conservative scorecards for the year. Now that I think of it, the phrase ‘Majority Leader Mike Lee’ has a nice ring to it.


Regardless of who is majority leader, Congress will really have only one year to get things done before the nation shifts focus to the presidential election. Republicans will need to begin deciding who can defeat Hillary Clinton. More importantly, however, they will need to determine who can not only steer the ship of state, but also inspire us to a greatness that does not see government as the answer to all of our problems.


If all goes wrong for the Republicans on election night and the Democrats retain their majority by one or two seats, the recriminations roller coaster will shift into high gear. First and foremost, any chance to present the president with a bicameral, alternative vision of government is lost and Republicans will immediately begin to focus on the next presidential election and ignore D.C. altogether. You can expect potential candidates to begin announcing sooner than ever.

Before that pivot takes place though, mainstream Republicans will blame grassroots conservatives for everything. There won’t be any nuanced analysis with a race-by-race understanding of what went wrong. It will be a wholesale wet blanket of blame directed squarely at the very voters that got them where they are in the first place. They will declare the death of real, grassroots conservatism. And they will be wrong.


Conservatives, on the other hand, will lick their wounds and get ready for the next round. We will recruit even more candidates, raise money, and strategize even better than this year. Recall this is a movement to change America, to turn away from dependence on government—we will call the American people to join us. They will join us because Americans know in their hearts that real conservatism is more than just an attempt to get the corner office in the Capitol Building.


Then there is the ‘nuclear option.’ No, I’m not talking about Reid bypassing years of Senate tradition to install President Obama’s nominees that couldn’t get 60 votes. As you may have heard, he already did that awhile back. This nuclear option is what would happen if the Senate ends up evenly divided, 50-50. This reality would empower Vice President Joe Biden with the tie-breaking vote, ensuring at least two more years of Reid as majority leader and ‘Crazy Uncle Joe’ as ultimate kingmaker, always getting the last say in any debate worth having in the last two years of the Obama presidency. God help us all. •


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