As the 2010 election cycle has been unfolding, it’s been obvious that this could be an historic year for Republican gains. No doubt, the driving force behind this has been the anti-Washington D.C. temperament that’s been developing among voters since the 2008 elections. Early indicators in this regard were last year’s Republican wins of the gubernatorial races in Virginia and in New Jersey. Of course, Scott Brown (R) winning “Teddy Kennedy’s seat” in the U.S. Senate, earlier this year, gave us the most ballyhooed example of this so far. More recently, we’ve seen Arlen Specter (Repocrat) ushered into retirement while Charles Djou (R) was elected to the U.S. Congress, representing the district in Hawaii where President Obama is reported to have been born. Certainly, the current political environment is one that should lead the GOP to be quite optimistic.
Although Republican optimism regarding today’s political landscape is justified, I’d prescribe a good dose of caution to go along with it. In this vein, some would warn against overconfidence. I agree. The GOP should heed that warning. Some worry about “peaking too early”/not being able to sustain present momentum through November. Again, I agree. The RNC would be wise to implement strategies aimed at this worry. And there are those who, like me, are concerned about the Republican Party not positioning itself shrewdly, to fully leverage their current, potentially historic, opportunity. A good example here is the mistake the GOP made last year in NY-23, supporting Scozzafava. Another instance of this is the one I pointed out in my recent article entitled “A Blind Squirrel Election Cycle For The GOP?”, involving a well-intended move on the part of the GOP that, in effect, ends up trampling on the will of those anti-Washington D.C. voters I mentioned earlier.
The area where I think my “good dose of caution” is most called for, though, is where there’s a notion that “the other guy” is no longer in the game. It seems that there are those who have the idea that “Progressives” have been rendered impotent or that they’ve given up and gone home. There’s no denying that they’ve been greatly wounded (much of it being self-inflicted) but it’s a huge mistake to think that they’ve given up. There are many “Progressives” who remain fully committed to their perverse view of what’s best for America and though they’re not currently dealing from a position of strength, their resources still include a pool of stellar political talent. I believe that the recent win by Mark Critz (D), in PA-12, serves as an excellent example of this and I hope the GOP is listening closely to the alarm this sets off.
On the surface, the Democrat’s win with Critz may not seem so ominous. One could take the view that, these days, even when the GOP loses one, worst case, we get a DINO (Democrat In Name Only). You could make that argument about Critz. He’s anti-abortion and pro-gun. He, also, opposed Obamacare (though he says he wouldn’t vote to repeal it). Even with those who might buy into this argument, it does seem that some lessons have been learned about DINOs or “Blue Dog Democrats.” The lesson is, the friend of my enemy is also my enemy.
But with the lessons-learned about “Blue dog Democrats” understood, once you drill down below the surface issues, it becomes a bit scarier. An excellent article on the Democrat’s win with Critz, in this special election, is from The Christian Science Monitor. It’s entitled “PA-12: A template for Democrats in November election?” This article notes that this Democrat win comes in “A congressional district where President Obama has a 35% approval rating” and that this “campaign could be a model for Democrats in the November election.” Man, I hope these themes are keeping more than one “someone” up at nights, at the RNC.
The aspect of the Democrats win with Critz that I found most chilling, though, was the role that was played by the “stellar political talent” that the DNC was willing to throw at this race. That included former President William Jefferson Clinton, aka Slick Willy himself, at his Primary Colors best. His message to voters with that “anti-Washington D.C. temperament” was: “Think about decisions you made when you were really mad. It’s about an 80% chance you made a mistake.” Like me, when you hear that, you may immediately think, “That’s a pretty good description of those who were looking for ‘Hope and Change’ in voting for Obama.” In this special election, in PA-12, voters lapped up the message Clinton was selling to the extent that the DINO, Critz, secured a 53% to 45% victory over his truly Conservative Republican opponent, Tim Burns.
In closing, let me acknowledge that because I’ve touched on a number of things here that are concerns for me where the GOP might “blow it” in a year when they could make historic gains, I could easily be perceived as a “glass-half-empty” kind of guy. Ironically, I believe those who know me best would describe me as just the opposite and I want to assure you that my goal isn’t to accentuate the negative. As I’ve noted before, I’m more politically involved now than at any other time in my life. The reason for this is because I refuse to stand idly by while those who are presently in power continue to flush the wonderful America I was blessed to be born and raised in. I’m looking forward to waking up on November 3, 2010, to find our nation set back on a better course. I just want to make sure we are doing all we can to maximize the opportunity lying before us.