By Ed Lynch
Professor of Political Science
Please allow me to share some “morning after” thoughts. Lest I be accused of being a Pollyanna, let me make it clear: we lost and things are going to be very tough for the next two years, at least. One of the first pieces of legislation Obama will sign will be the Freedom of Choice Act, which will nullify every state restriction on abortion. Gun rights will be under great pressure, as will families, homeschoolers, talk radio hosts and Christians of every stripe.
Having said all that, Obama will find, as Nero did, that we Christians have an annoying habit of outlasting our persecutors. And there are some other good things to hold close to our broken hearts this morning.
First, Obama’s victory means the end of the Clinton era. Hillary Clinton will never be President of the United States. She and Bill will get a few bones from the Obama White House from time to time, but Bill Clinton will spend most of the rest of his days visiting disaster areas with President Bush.
Second, we have our nominee for 2012. Sarah Palin provided the only excitement the McCain campaign generated. Unless the voters of Alaska fail to reelect her in 2010, Gov. Palin will almost certainly be the Republican nominee four years hence. She will spend much of the next four years as the GOP’s most effective fund-raiser, nailing down her support. Thus, there will be no long, drawn-out primary battle to waste our time, our effort, our money and our fellowship. For 2008, we had ten candidates at one point, and McCain got the nomination of a fractured party. We will be united next time around.
Third, McCain’s defeat is a defeat for the so-called moderate wing of the Republican Party. They got their way, and they got their candidate in 2008, and he lost, in spite of the best efforts of most conservatives (myself excluded). In the short term, moderates will seem to rise, as they preach the importance of getting along with Obama, but as Obama moves further and further to the left, such Republican moderates will be left out. And there is no moderate in the party who will be able to credibly challenge Sarah Palin.
Fourth, Obama will disappoint many of his most ardent supporters. To raise the taxes he wants to raise will risk a much deeper economic downturn. To spend the money he wants to spend requires a massive tax increase. Obama will pull troops out of Iraq, but he’ll never manage to do so fast enough for his supporters. After eight years of Bush-bashing, Obama’s leftist supporters are going to want action instantly. When they don’t get it, they’ll get very angry.
Fifth, 2008 proved the importance of ideas to the GOP. We learned with McCain, once again, that running an issue-less campaign is a sure recipe for defeat. How do you think this campaign would have gone had McCain embraced the Fair Tax, and forced Obama to spend the Fall defending the IRS? Republicans will have a monopoly on new ideas for the next four years, and 2012 will be fought on our turf.
Sixth, this election should not have been this close. With Republicans saddled with an unpopular war, an unpopular incumbent President, a poor economy and a lackluster nominee, it was the Democrats who underperformed yesterday, and no amount of gloating on their part will change that. Other than the Presidency, their biggest goal was a Senate supermajority, which they didn’t get. We’re still in a position to stop Obama’s worst ideas.
Seventh, Obama may not have the impact on the Supreme Court he’s hoping for. The only Supremes Obama is certain to replace are Ruth
Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens. They’re already ultra-liberal. I don’t want to make too much of this, since we lost a golden opportunity to take over the Supreme Court, and since Obama will appoint dozens of lower court justices who will cause trouble for decades. At the top, however, there may not be much change.
Eighth, and finally, here in Virginia there is always another election to work on. For 2009, we already have our nominees for either governor and lieutenant governor or for governor and attorney general. Both will start with large advantages over their still-to-be-determined Democrat foes.
It has been well said, “Next year is for losers.” Fair enough. We are the losers this time. But we’re positioned to learn from our defeat, to dust ourselves off, and to get back into the ring.
See you on the trail.