If I were the national Republican Party today, I’d be afraid — very afraid. Reading the tea leaves, I’m seeing disaster for the GOP in the immediate future.
Or perhaps I really don’t need to read the tea leaves; I think it’s that obvious that the party is on the ropes. It doesn’t really have any guiding principle at this point except defeating the Democrats in general and President Obama in particular, and that’s a harbinger for defeat.
Here’s one thing that should put a scare into the Republicans: I regularly receive fundraising emails from the Democratic National Senatorial Committee — I haven’t contributed anything to the Democrats in over 20 years, but I’m still in their database — which has started a “Paint the South Blue” campaign to encourage Democratic candidates and recruit volunteers in that part of the country. That’s significant because up until a few years ago pouring money into those races would have been a waste of time and resources.
In fact, its own internal polling suggests that five of its candidates are ahead, albeit by only single digits, of even GOP incumbents. Of course those polls may be inaccurate and could change between now and November, but if things hold up the Senate may very well remain with the Democrats.
It didn’t help matters that Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann made noise earlier this year about impeaching the president and in the process handing the Democrats yet another issue on which to run. Some conservatives are now accusing the Democrats of turning that into an issue where none was intended; however, that now represents a “walking back” because, frankly, the votes just aren’t there anyway. It reminds me of Bill Clinton, who during the 1996 presidential campaign charged that the GOP would cut $270 billion from Medicare, and that helped swing the election toward him, especially in Arizona and Florida. (For the record, the actual figure was correct but represented, really, a cut in the proposed increase; however, he got away with it because of the Republicans’ propensity to cut any program that benefited their opponents.)
But what if the GOP were able to hang on to those Senate seats this year or even win it outright? That might mean even more trouble down the road.
More trouble? Yep. Because when Republicans win they always become arrogant; some people are already insisting that, with every minor victory, “conservatism is coming back” and their extremist, triumphalist rhetoric as a result will only increase, turning people against them — just like 2012. (They still don’t understand that people voted not much so for Obama and the Democrats but against them.) And then there’s Hillary Clinton, who, if she runs for president in two years as expected, will have coattails the likes of which we’ve never seen before.
It seems to me that the GOP has two choices if it continues on its present course: Lose small this year or lose bigger in 2016.