Twelve days ago I predicted that the Republicans would fall short of taking control of the Senate in the November 4th election. It’s not that I don’t want them to win that prize, I do. But if they do, and it’s looking a little more like they might, it’s that they won’t win it because of anything they have done to deserve it. If they win the Senate if will for the usual reasons they win anything; it will because Obama and the Democrats have screwed up so badly. It’s like a lousy high school football team winning a game because the better team was having a bad day. That sort of win never does much to raise the reputation of the poorer team.
The Republicans of 1994 were different. That year they won control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years, and they won it solely because of their stellar performance leading up to the election. That was the year the Republicans devised the “Contract for America” and ran an ad in TV Guide, which was then the most widely read magazine in America, setting forth ten things Republicans promised to do if they were given control of the House. A majority of Americans were in favor of everything Republicans promised to do, and the 1994 election was a near wipe out for Democrats. After the election the Republicans set out to do what they had promised, and in fact delivered on the majority of it.
I believe the 1994 election stands out as the one time Republicans won something for what they promised and what they stood for. Of course, there were those two times in 1980 and 1984 when Ronald Reagan won two landslide elections. But 1994 remains the only time Republicans have been able to win by themselves, without a leader like Reagan providing coattails.
This time, if they win control of the Senate, it will not be because of anything they have done. They have not formulated any kind of a message or built a track record sufficient to give anyone a reason to vote for them. They will win by getting votes Democrats have forfeited by their autocratic approach to politics and their appalling incompetence in running the government. It will be just like the lucky win of a lousy football team when the better team is making mistakes. Not that Democrats are a better political party, they’re an autocratic bunch of reprobate demagogues desirous of becoming absolute dictators. Unfortunately though, that they are a lot better at winning elections than Republicans. They are also good at playing race, gender and other cards to cow Republicans into submission and hold back on any meaningful opposition. They can with seeming ease turn Republicans like John Boehner into feckless squishes.
So they might actually pull out a win this time and re-take the Senate. Not having actually run on anything to energize voters, what will they do then? Obama will still be there, and he will what one would expect of a malignant narcissist who has not gotten his way on something he wanted. When other people fail to celebrate the pageantry of the narcissist’s life, the narcissist will becomes very angry and combative. Obama has lived a charmed life. He has skated along without taking any falls. He won’t know how to take a rebuke from the voters. Are Republicans prepared to deal with that? Hardly. They probably have no idea what they will be in for.
It’s time for Republicans to give serious thought to what happens if they win the Senate and House this November, as it looks increasingly that they will. While not exactly Pyrrhic, this victory will present a whole range of potential problems and traps that could negatively affect this country’s future and the world. And as we know, we are living in precarious times.
Barack Obama is a man unaccustomed to losing. Life has been exceptionally kind to him, sailing, as he did, through balmy Oahu sunsets, college, law school and career on into the presidency with scarcely a bump. He has been a protected man beyond any in recent memory, feted and praised virtually everywhere he went until the last couple of years. Even now, despite catastrophe after catastrophe, there are acolytes who continue to celebrate him, paying tens of thousands merely to have their photographs taken with him.
When such cosseted people are forced to confront failure, they typically do not do so with grace. This man is angry but highly unlikely to go into an anger management program. Imagine what will happen after November. We could be looking at behavior that would fit the very definition of “acting out,” anti-social but on a global scale. And he still has two more years in office.
Republicans rarely have the moxie or the backbone to deal with the sort of stuff that what will be coming their way if they win the Senate and hold the House in November. That just might be why a few of them are acting as if they don’t want to win back the Senate.