The polls and pundits are all in alignment now.
The Republican Party is headed for a victory Tuesday to rival the biggest and best of those that the party has known in the lifetime of most Americans.
In 1938, the GOP won 72 seats in the House.
In 1946, Republicans swept both houses and presented Harry Truman with a “fighting 80th Congress” that contained three future presidents: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.
In 1966, Republicans picked up 47 House seats to set up the comeback of Nixon, who had led the party out of the wilderness of Goldwater’s defeat.
In 1994, the Republican Revolution added 52 House seats and captured both chambers for the first time since Eisenhower’s first term.
Looking back on those Republican triumphs, and forward to Tuesday’s, what do these Republican off-year victories have in common?
In all four – 1938, 1946, 1966 and 1994 – the GOP won not because of what the party had accomplished or the hopes it had raised, but because Republicans were the only alternative on the ballot to a Democratic Party and president voters wished to punish.
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By 1938, America had had its fill of FDR, as the Depression returned with a vengeance and his aristocratic arrogance became manifest in the crude attempt to purge Democratic senators and pack the Supreme Court with six new justices who’d rubber-stamp his New Deal.
In 1946, Truman was perceived to have been as naive as FDR in trusting “good old Joe” Stalin, who was imposing his murderous Bolshevik rule on 100 million Eastern Europeans and whose Maoist allies were waging war on America’s ally in China. What our boys won on the battlefield, our diplomats had frittered away, the country believed.
In 1966, the nation was reacting viscerally to the stalemate in Vietnam, rising casualties, campus disorders, soaring crime and riots in Harlem and Watts, all seen as the legacy of LBJ’s Great Society.
In 1994, it was gays in the military, Hillarycare and the public perception that Bill Clinton was more liberal than he had let on that cost Democrats both houses. The postelection spin that the nation had rallied to Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” was pure propaganda.
Tuesday’s election, too, will be no embrace of the GOP, but rather a repudiation of what Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have come to represent. All are seen as power-hungry politicians of an out-of-touch regime that is seizing control of private wealth and private lives as it fails in its duty to win our wars, balance our budgets and secure our borders.
Republicans will be the beneficiaries of this repudiation, as Republicans are, almost everywhere, the only alternative on the ballot, and because they are seen correctly as having opposed the Obama agenda with near-drill-team solidarity.
Every Republican in the Senate but Arlen Specter and the ladies from Maine voted against Obama’s stimulus bill. Every Republican in the House, save eight, voted no on cap-and-trade. Every Republican on Capitol Hill voted no on Obamacare. More GOP senators opposed Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan than opposed any Supreme Court nominee in memory.
Tuesday, obstructionism reaps its reward.
On Tuesday, the nation, including millions of Obama voters, will come out to empower the Party of No, even as the nation voted in 2006 and 2008 to throw out that party. While many did respond positively to Obama’s politics of hope and change in 2008, as they ousted the Republicans, the nation, after Tuesday, will have voted in three straight elections in four years to be rid of its ruling regime.
The United States is starting to look like the French Fourth Republic.
After France lost Indochina, began losing Algeria and was flipping from one premier and one party to another, the call went forth from an exasperated nation to Gen. DeGaulle to come and take charge of affairs.
Consider the critical issue facing America today – the budget and trade deficits, the soaring national debt, an unemployment near 10 percent for 14 straight months – and how neither party seems to have the cure.
While George Bush’s tax cuts did not cause this, they did not prevent it. And if Republicans believe that his deficits did cause it, why have those Republicans not addressed the causes of those deficits – Bush’s wars, Bush’s tax cuts and Bush’s social spending on No Child Left Behind and Medicare drug benefits?
Yet, if liberal Democrats are right and deficits are the correct Keynesian cure for recession, why have Obama deficits of $1.4 and $1.3 trillion failed so dismally? Paul Krugman says they are not large enough. Perhaps, but the country is about to end the experiment.
The Federal Reserve, having used and broken every tool in its toolbox, including doubling the money supply and setting interest rates at near zero, will now bet the farm on inflation, starting Nov. 3.
Both parties have lost the mandate of heaven, and neither knows if its economic philosophy even works anymore.
We are in uncharted waters. The country is up for grabs.