Thursday, October 30, 2014

Republicans Will Lose By Winning

Republicans are going to win and it is the worst thing that can happen to them.
Although polls show Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter continue to keep David Perdue and Nathan Deal within their grasp, as happens with most elections in Georgia, after a brief high water mark for Democrats, the trends are shifting towards the Republicans. The fundamentals are still too strong. Every statewide office is held by a Republican. The state voted for Romney by a considerable margin (although considerably less than other Republican strongholds). And in the case of Deal, the force of incumbency is the strongest variable in the physics of politics.

Although the Republican’s losing an incumbent Governor would sting, it will be the inevitable victory of David Perdue which will ultimately cause the Republican Party both in this state and nationally to continue to coast on the belief that their ideas, and not structural factors, are the reason they just keep on winning.
I get called a liberal quite a bit and there’s a simple reason. I live in Georgia.

I believe most gun laws are feel-good salves which have little effect in the real world. If I were ever elected to an office, despite that time seven years ago when I called them thugs , I would probably get an A on the NRA's scorecard. But because I acknowledge the word “regulate” appears in the Second Amendment and because I admit that a gun law being stupid doesn’t make it unconstitutional, I get called a liberal. You see in Georgia and states where words like “true” and “principled” are used not just as descriptors but as badges against heresy, to acknowledge any nuanced interpretation of our “fundamental rights” is to acknowledge you are nothing more than a dirty gun grabber.
I think government should be as small as possible and we should tax ourselves as little as possible. But because I add the word “possible” to those declarations, I’m called a liberal. A “true” (there it is again) conservative would simply say, “government should be small” and “we should tax ourselves little”. If you even hint that taxes are not painfully high or that after 30 years of the experiment, supply side economics may not work, you are a liberal. That all data shows effective tax rates are at historic lows and that in Kansas, the governor is empirically proving that tax cuts do not pay for themselves, matters not one whit. Unless you bow at the altar of taxes should always be reduced, you are not only a liberal. You’re a socialist.

To see the effects of this twisted view of reality, look no further than Ted Cruz. No doubt turning the ground for a Presidential run, he recently said Republicans would lose again if they nominate another candidate in the mold of John McCain or Mitt Romney. And in the funhouse in which Cruz lives, these candidates did not lose because they are reasonable men forced to wear the clown outfit of “true conservatism” in front of an electorate who easily saw the fakeness of it all. No, in Cruz’s distorted world, they lost because they didn’t run hard enough to the right. Only true believers find redemption and salvation and the glory of winning.
If you live in deep red Texas or in Georgia, the reasoning is seductive. It works for us here, why would it not work everywhere? But much like believing I’m a liberal, it ignores all to the contrary. The rest of the country is not Texas or Georgia and the evidence shows it.

The Republicans have managed a majority in a Presidential election once since 1988. In Senatorial elections, statewide races and therefore immune to the weird demographics of gerrymandering, instead of a wave in 2014, the Republican’s likely outcome is a slight swell that manages to get past rocks named Nunn in Georgia and Orman in Kansas. And the Governors. Republican Governors were once the pride of the party and the Republican Governor’s Association one of its most powerful brokers. Now, Republican Governors, even those in friendly places like Georgia, are fighting for their lives.
Of course Republicans dominate the House of Representatives for reasons that go well beyond party purity. No finer example of this is the inevitable election of Jody Hice in Georgia’s 10th District. A district that includes a portion of liberal Athens is going to send someone to Capitol Hill who believes the First Amendment does not apply to certain religions, women should submit to men and everything started going to hell in a hand basket when we took Bibles out of school.

And here is where we get to the nut of the thing. You do not hear those “liberty” criers criticizing Hice’s malleable view of the 1st Amendment. Certainly not in the manner they attack other Republicans who only say we should discuss the meaning of the 2nd Amendment. And it is because Republicans in deep red states, like Georgia, have only seen success in continuing to narrow the path. They don’t see Jody Hice and his ilk as outliers. They see them as the mainstream.
And when Deal and Perdue are elected and the Reverend Jody goes to Washington, Republicans will recline again in the comfort that people like me are liberals, fundamentals like demographics will never change and as long as you are “true” and “principled”, the righteous will always emerge from battle covered in glory.

Two years from now when traditional Republicans tire of being called liberals, when the demographics needle ticks a few more points out of their favor, when they will defend twice as many seats as Democrats in the Senate and face another electoral thrashing in a Presidential race, maybe, just maybe, the few Republicans left will stand up and say, you know what boys and girls, this ain’t really working.
Until that moment comes, the path will continue to narrow and more will fall by the wayside.