Friday, November 7, 2014

Why Republicans Really Won

Republicans, David Brooks explains, are now “the governing party.” American citizens, by casting votes or by staying home, have put Republicans in charge of almost all political institutions.

Brooks writes:

Republicans now control 69 of 99 state legislative bodies. Republicans hold 31 governorships to Democrats’ 18.

When the next Congress convenes in January, Republicans will have their largest majority in the House of Representatives since 1931; they will have a majority in the Senate, dominate gubernatorial power in the Midwest, and have more legislative power nationwide than anytime over the past century.

One must add that Republicans do not control the White House or the executive branch of government or the court system.

Be that as it may, many savvy analysts have been arguing that Republicans won the war of ideas. If you think that ideas run the world or that voters are driven to vote or not to vote according to which party has the best ideas, the analysis will resonate.

But, it falls more within the category of idealism than it does traditional conservatism.

Brooks offers a counterargument, in terms, not so much of the ideas but of the social institutions that successful Republican candidates represented.

In his words:

Republicans didn’t establish this dominant position because they are unrepresentative outsiders. They did it because they have deep roots in four of the dominant institutions of American society: the business community, the military, the church and civic organizations.

Outlining the experience of Larry Hogan, David Perdue, Thom Tillis, Bruce Rauner, James Lankford and Tom Cotton—he could have added Joni Ernst—Brooks concludes that they come from the military, business, civic organizations and churches. They are not country-club Republicans.

He writes:

Let’s pause over some of the institutions mentioned in these mini-bios: IBM, Reebok, the Red Cross, McKinsey and the Army. These are not fringe organizations. These are the pillars of American society.

Republicans won this election in part because they re-established their party’s traditional personality. The beau ideal of American Republicanism is the prudent business leader who is active in the community, active at church and fervently devoted to national defense.

He concludes:

These candidates won in the general election because working-class voters will trust Republican corporate types so long as they are deeply embedded in their communities, so long as they have demonstrated loyalty to the whole society and not just the upper crust.

In truth, Democrats seem to have become the party of the coddled and detached upper crust. The 1%, represented by Silicon Valley and Hollywood threw substantial amounts of money at Democrats.

And Democrat policies have certainly not improved the lives of those who are in the lower classes.

Brooks adds that today’s Republicans need to govern, to be more conciliatory and less confrontational.

In that he is partially right.

Republican governors who have Republican state legislatures must show that they are capable of enacting an agenda and making it work. Since white working class voters went Republican in large numbers, newly elected Republicans must do what is best for them.

But they must also revive the job prospects of members of minority communities. If they do, they will be on the road to a durable majority.

And yet, Republicans were primarily sent to Washington to slow down if not to shut down Barack Obama.

Thus, it makes more sense for Republicans to try to gain bipartisan Congressional support for policies that will undermine the Obama administration.

For example:

But current party leaders are talking about incremental progress, finding areas where they can get bipartisan support: on trade, corporate taxes, the XL oil pipeline, the medical devices tax, patent reform, maybe even tax reform generally.


Ares Olympus said...

I almost wonder if President Obama isn't secretly relieved. Now he can keep the Left quiet for failing to turn out and vote, and is free to try to manuever the Republicans to supporting sensible market-friendly policies by pretending he's against them, but now his hands are tied, and he can't veto everything, right?

And I think the Republican leadership must be grateful with two majorities to hava Obama as president. As long as he has veto power, the Republican leadership can play Obama's veto against the more suicidal wings of the Republican party, or so we can hope.

Without the loyal opposition all the crazy things Republicans promise in their echo chambers of doom, but have no intention to deliver, will have to be attempted, and will risk a 2016 presidential failure.

Maybe Benghazi can finally rest in peace, or at least until Hillary decides to run? And so we've got 2 years to judge the Republicans' ability to legislate incremental positions.

But I don't know what the incremental position to illegal immigrants. I'm still leaning towards the WSJ approach, big but simple, expand NATFA to allow unlimited work visa between Mexico, USA, and Canada. Taking a NAFTA Approach to Immigration - If workers were allowed to move freely in North America, the 'path to U.S. citizenship' problem would fade away.

Anonymous said...

I think the following article is closer to the truth.

Dennis said...

Much of the comments seem to me to be "whistling past the grave yard." Obama is NOT Bill Clinton who was not an ideologue and smart enough to make deals with the Republicans where it strengthened him politically.
This is not true of Obama because he is a rigid ideologue and thinks he can control the agenda with a "pen and at the veto power." In most cases what seems like a strength, but is as much a weakness.
"A pen and a phone" is not going to make up for the fact that the Republicans control both Houses and have total control over how money gets allocated. Though it has not been mentioned the House has already used the power of the purse to severely limit Obama.
If the Republicans are smart they will find the areas where there is broad bipartisan agreement, which there has been despite Harry Reid, and keep pushing those bills to Obama to veto or sign until Obama either meets them in the middle or becomes president NO. This is known as using someone's advantage to demonstrate its disadvantages.
They don't have to take large steps to seriously undermine that which large percentage of people find objectionable. From Mcconnell comments I would suggest that is going to be their approach. They really do have the power to severely affect Obama's last two years. Now they have to be smart enoughto use it judiciously.

Dennis said...

There is a lot of discussion about the fact that Republicans don't agree with each other and how this might affect getting things done. First of all I see this as a good thing because this can lead to serious debate that can lead to better crafted bills. None of us are right about everything and only debate will ensure that those tasked with governing hear and take into consideration all view points. Something that Harry Reid has stopped in the last two years in order to protect the party and Obama.
Cynically I have begun to wonder if we could just pick one person out of the elected democrats and have them espouse the talking points, vote and represent other democrats? It seems that there is only one acceptable opinion if one is to be a democrat, woman, minority, et al so why waste the time discussing it.
As an Independent I don't much like either party, even though I spent years as a democrat, but I do like the fact that the Republicans actually don't agree with each other. Debating the issues causes people to evaluate how they actually think about the way they vote. Free speech is such an important aspect of being a free people that well reasoned argumentation is the underlying foundation of that freedom. It also lets the rest of us who are supposed to be represented get a good indication of what drives the people we elect. Hiding how our representative think and act IS the fundamental basis of the democrats and the Obama administration.
We have survived as a country for over two hundred years with people who did not agree with each other to the point of duels. Now all of a sudden we want people to play nice and agree as if that is going to make us a better nation. Only in the arena does one's ideas get tested by the trial of verbal combat. Finally, let the combat begin.