Keys the GOP must address in the next Congress...
Set the stage with 2009 v. 2015 governance metrics:
The numbers tell the story: In 2009, Democrats had 60 senators, when you include the two independents who caucused with them; in 2015, they will have 45. In 2009, Democrats had 256 members of the House; in 2015, they will have 192. In 2009, Democrats had 28 governors; in 2015, they will have 18. In 2009, Democrats controlled both legislative chambers in 27 states; in 2015, they will control only 11. In 2009, Democrats controlled 62 legislative chambers; in 2015, they will control only 28 (with one tie and two still undecided).
Factor in record GOP dominance at the state level: GOP controls 67 chambers out of 93, breaking their previous high of 64 in 1920. The control both houses in 27 states, and also have GOP governors in 23 of those 27. Democrats control both chambers in 7--yes, 7--states. Results remain pending in Colorado & Maine.
Foreign Policy. WSJ pundit Bret Stephens offers insights that the GOP would do well to follow. In particular, he writes this on promoting democracy:
A policeman is not a priest. George W. Bush’s foreign policy went wrong when, seeking a substitute rationale for the war in Iraq following the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, he turned his freedom agenda into the core pillar of Mideast policy. In doing so, he transformed the role of the U.S. from a great power with the will and the wherewithal to maintain order, deter aggression and punish rogues, into a missionary cause intent on redeeming broken societies through the salvific medium of elections. Instead of being the world’s cop, we attempted to be the world’s priest. Bad move.
The point of the war in Iraq was getting rid of Saddam Hussein, the modern Middle East’s ultimate weapon of mass destruction. We’re still better off because he’s gone. But bringing gender balance to the Iraqi Parliament, or negotiating equitable oil distribution schemes, was another matter. The world needs America as Mr. Big, not Mr. Busybody.
I would add that Obama's animus towards Israel must be curbed. At Commentary Blog Tom Wilson compellingly compares the White House reaction to the death of two U.S. citizens in Israel. When Israeli police shot & killed a Palestinian terrorist trying to toss a Molotov cocktail, the White House instantly reacted with anger & harsh accusation directed at Israel--even refusing to condemn the youth as the terrorist he was. But when a Palestinian terrorist drove a car into the train station in Jerusalem, killing a 3-month old infant U.S. citizen the White House largely ignored the atrocity, issuing a bland diplomatic statement.
Domestic Policy. NRO's Ed Whelan offers sage advice on the Senate fillibuster rules. He begins with historical background:
....A year ago, proving that they can dish it out but can’t take it, Harry Reid and other Senate Democrats used a parliamentary maneuver to abolish the filibuster for lower-court and executive-branch nominations (but not for Supreme Court nominations). While it’s proper to condemn the Democrats’ crass opportunism, their abolition of the judicial filibuster reestablishes the operational status quo that long prevailed in the Senate — before, that is, Democrats launched their unprecedented campaign of partisan filibusters against President George W. Bush’s nominees in 2003. Reestablishment of that status quo is exactly what Senate Republican leadership and nearly all Republican senators were aiming to do when they tried to abolish the judicial filibuster in 2005.
The impact of reinstating the filibuster for lower-court nominees would likely be trivial during the last two years of President Obama’s administration. Republicans will already have multiple backstops against unacceptable judicial nominees. Senator Chuck Grassley, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, could simply deny hearings to such nominees, just as Democrat Pat Leahy did to George W. Bush nominees when he was committee chairman in 2007 and 2008. If the nominee’s objectionable features surfaced only in the hearing, the Republican majority on the committee could defeat the nomination in committee. If the committee somehow reported such a nomination to the full Senate, Mitch McConnell, as the new majority leader, could simply refuse to schedule a vote on the nomination. And, of course, the Republican majority in the Senate could defeat a bad nominee on a straight up-or-down vote. So the weapon of the filibuster would not add meaningfully to the arsenal that the party in control of the Senate already has available.
Whelan refuted two arguments made for Rs to reinstate the judicial filibuster. The first is tradition. Prior to 2003 only one judicial nomination was filibustered, that of LBJ nominee Abe Fortas to be chief justice, in 1968. But that one was a bipartisan filibuster. Then he turns to the second argument:
The second argument that proponents make is that reinstating the judicial filibuster is necessary or useful to help preserve the legislative filibuster. But this argument also flies in the face of actual Senate traditions. The long-settled tradition of the Senate has been to treat debate over nominations and legislation very differently. Filibusters over legislation date back to the 1830s. By contrast, nominations (as this law-review article co-authored by parliamentary expert Martin B. Gold puts it) were “swept into” a reform of the filibuster only in 1949 and “only by happenstance.” And, as discussed in the preceding paragraph, even after this nominal inclusion of nominations in the filibuster rule in 1949, Senate practice continued to regard the partisan filibuster of judicial nominees as illegitimate.
Whelan notes that Rs will be disappointed if they try to appease Ds. Ds will reinstate and even expand their power when again they control the upper chamber. The key is to prevent Ds from using filibuster to stop GOP judicial nominees. Such would be, EW writes, "massive folly." Longtime Se. Orrion Hatch (R-UT) concurs, warning against unilateral disarmament" that would create a one-way leftward ratchet.
Working against this, writes literary critic Joseph Epstein, are "virtucrats" who see themselves as morally superior to their opponents, and infuse political discourse with their self-righteousness and rejection of compromise:
Political arguments at the level of ideology are seldom won. As Jonathan Swift wrote, “it is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he wasn’t reasoned into.” None of us has been reasoned into his politics. We came by them through the indirect influence of family, friends, and social and economic position: sometimes in consonance with these influences, sometimes in reaction against them. Politics is a great many things, but reasonable has never been chief among them.
The spirit of compromise, so alien to the virtucrat, is at the heart of doing the business of politics. Certainties in politics are few. The ends of politics—social justice or liberty, maximum or minimum government action—are perennially in dispute. Complete victory for one side or the other would mean defeat for a free society. The major political issues are always in the flux of controversy, except for the virtucrat. He enjoys certainty in the realm of the uncertain, self-righteousness where it has no place. The virtucrat’s certitude and self-satisfaction finally render him ineligible for true politics. It will take more than Tuesday’s midterms to shake the virtucratic grip on Washington.
Sounds like a certain president, doesn't it?
Bottom Line. Change the voters can believe in must await 2017. In the meantime, incremental change and preventing the administration from doing fatal harm to the republic is the best that one can hope for.
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