1) People perceive the President as somewhat imperial and not at all in tune with their hopes and fears. The truth is that Mr. Bush is not a conservative. He began this term with a narrow election victory and immediately declared that the American people has handed him a mandate. He then continued to spend like an Orange County housewife, ignored immigration, didn’t pursue leakers of classified information (at least with the full weight of the U.S. Government), and steadfastly refused to work at any bipartisan issues.Three essential elements. Notice that this election was not an indictment of conservatives, but one of governance. Not convinced? Look at how all the ballot initiatives played out... conservative victories as far as the eye can see. So, the vast majority of Americans are conservative (many of the Democrats elected yesterday were conservative Democrats). This election was not about differences in ideology, it was about a crew that has ignored the people and is now paying the price.
Generally, I believe that this left a lot of people (including myself to some degree) with a bad taste in their mouths. Additionally, without a conservative White House to guide the Party, we get the circus that just lost us the House.
2) When conservatives look, smell, and act like conservatives, they tend to win handily. Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress developed a tin ear, choosing instead to commit themselves to the tangible benefits of power rather than to leading with a sense of purpose. Scandal and corruption rocked the Republicans… Mark Foley and the pages, Curt Weldon, Tom DeLay, Bob Ney, etc. These morally deficient individuals should have been rooted out long ago, but were not.
The Congressional Republicans have left the reservation, able to control their own budget and completely ignoring conservative reformers. As the illegal immigration debacle was unfolding, Speaker Hastert and the rest of the crew supported John Boehner (a “moderate” Republican) or Roy Blunt (closer to “hippie”) for Majority Whip, ignoring the true conservative reformers (like Mike Pence and John Shadegg). In fact, the only thing that this Congress got right was the Supreme Court (for which I’m grateful). The Republican Congressional Caucus has earned its new minority status.
Incidentally, the Senate is an even larger culprit than Congress. Congress did, to their credit, attempt to push through important (if not complete) legislation, only to be completely crushed in the Senate. Of course the way this actually works is that these efforts are only political plays and not meaningful attempts as governance… but I digress.
3) National security is the single most important issue (coupled with the two factors above) that have cost the GOP. Illegal immigration was a massive issue with broad support of constituents on both sides of the aisle. Half-hearted attempts like building 700 miles of fence (but not fully funding it) are seen for what they are… a ridiculously small band-aid. Also, allowing leaks of classified information does not sit well with 95% of the populace. All government leaders should be moving quickly to prosecute and control this information.
Most heavily in the national security realm is Operation Iraqi Freedom. The American citizenry has been absolutely pummeled with negativity from the MSM, the left, and the rest of the world regarding Iraq. Fatigue has absolutely settled in on this issue and people just want it to go away. Many don’t care that the price may be very expensive in the future, they are just plain weary (much like filing for bankruptcy, knowing that it is the easiest path, but still willing to screw yourself and others). As a soldier, I can say that your military is still up for the fight and we are proud of what we have accomplished. Trust us, our friends and families are tired of worrying about us too. Despite hearing “the real story” they have had to sacrifice quite a lot and pray for an end.
Interestingly, a fellow here at my work tried to tell me that we were in a quagmire in Iraq, “just like Vietnam.” I countered that he had it precisely wrong, that this is al-Qaeda’s Vietnam. They can neither stay in Iraq or afford to leave it. It is continually depleting their resources and they are actually finding it harder to get others to go and martyr themselves in Iraq. All the violence going on? It is, simply put, a civil war. The same may have happened had we simply assassinated Hussein, meaning, that it has been coming for some time.
I think that the general opinion on Iraq is that things simply can’t continue as they are currently going. We need some sort of plan. Nobody, of course, knows what that plan looks like. Fatigue.
Coming soon... The Way Ahead