Voter registration for the Republican Party increased considerably over the primary season, with states such as Iowa and California noting a surge just before the vote. Overall, GOP voter enthusiasm has skyrocketed, higher than even in 1994 when the Contract With America gave the party a majority in the US House of Representatives. Confidence is high with most pundits that the Republicans will win big in November, perhaps taking one or both houses of congress back from the Democrats.
Some are treating this as wonderful news for the right, considering any defeat of the Democrats as a win for conservatives. Many conservatives met the victory of Senator Brown in Massachusetts with giddy excitement, seeing the event as a collapse of leftist control in their strongest bastions of power. Yet will a Republican win in November truly help our cause and the nation as a result?
The first thing I have to try to establish when I deal with a leftist in conversation or debate is the stark, sad difference between "Republican" and "Conservative." While Democrats - particularly their leadership - are reliably leftist, Republicans are far from reliably conservative. The basic Republican core and leadership has almost always been fairly middle-to-skwishy. Republicans have, except for brief intervals (Reagan and initially the Contract With America congress), slower Democrats. Leftists too often equate the GOP with conservatives, which is simply not the case.
Sadly, too many conservatives seem to be doing the same thing today. A Republican win, they seem to think, is a conservative win. Sometimes, it is, but most of the time a Republican win is simply a Democrat defeat. Certainly it tends to be true that the fewer Democrats in power the slower the violation of the principles of the founding fathers, but slow violation is still violation. There's giddiness about the right-leaning blogosphere (Dextrosphere, as Ace of Spades puts it), a giddiness that is unwarranted for several reasons.
The first is what I've noted above; a GOP congress isn't likely to even try to eliminate the monster spending, let alone slow it very much. They aren't going to increase transparency beyond some political gestures, they aren't likely to implement tax cuts to replace the Bush cuts, which are almost certain to lapse and they won't read the bills they vote on any more than Democrats have. Republicans in control mean that the hard left agenda President Obama and the Democrat leadership has been ramming through will be slowed or stopped, but the damage is already done.
The second reason not to be too giddy is the average voter's politics. Not very many people are actually that interested in politics unless it directly and specifically impacts them. Hard core political junkies like many who read or write political blogs are rare. The rest get their news from a newspaper front page they see, watching The Daily Show, maybe a website like Fark.com, or conversations over the water cooler and the occasional e-mail.
While polling - if you can trust it - shows heavy support for Republicans and disapproval of President Obama, that doesn't translate into the idea that people like Republicans or want to see a conservative agenda implemented any more than Democratic Party victories in 2006 and 2008 meant "we are all socialists now" as Newsweek foolishly proclaimed. That's the biggest error the left made, presuming their electoral victories meant that conservatism was wiped out and the nation celebrated a new rush into leftist ideology. Many still seem to cling to this sad myth.
The fact is, the only reason many people are at Tea Party rallies and most folks are planning on a Republican Party vote is because they are suffering economically. Fair or not, the party in power is blamed for economic woes, and the president is blamed or credited for how things go with my wallet. Democrats are doing a lousy job addressing anything to do with jobs or the recession, and the one big stunt they did try, most people opposed and were frightened by -- the "stimulus" package.
If you ask the average voter, almost none would say they oppose big spending because it is unconstitutional or that it is bad for our future. That's for the pundits. Most folks would just say "I can't find a job and they're spending money on dog parks!" That isn’t to say they are happy with the spending, just when and how that spending is going on. If the economy was doing well, most people really wouldn't care how much the Democrats spent beyond a "oh no our children will have to pay for it!" once in a while. Things are rough for me immediately, so I want government to make it all better, is the attitude. Since Democrats aren't, then they have to go. The fact that the Democrats are also spending vast amounts of money we don't have on programs most people don't want only puts the icing on that cake.
There's no philosophical allegiance to conservative principles of small government, constitutional obedience, liberty, and restraint in most voters. They just want things to be “all better.” And too many think the government can and will make that happen, if only they try.
So people who are voting for Republicans now don't really want Republicans in power, they want the Democrats to dial back their excesses, and they want to punish the party in power for how things are going. They're tired of saying "we need jobs" and hearing "hey, let's pass another massive socialist program" from congress. They want the government to step back a bit and stop spending so much because they feel its connected to a bad economy.
Keep all that in mind for November and the following months. I'm glad to see Democrats out of office, given their dinosaur leftist leadership and insane overspending. I just don't see Republicans in power as being this great force for rescue and change.