By all rational observations, tomorrow will be an election debacle for the Republican Party. Even if by some modern miracle, the McCain/Palin ticket wins, substantially enlarged Democratic majorities in the House and Senate will cripple their administration.
Worse case scenarios include the Democrats holding 60 seats in the Senate, thereby not only obtaining a filibuster free Senate, but also the ability to throw Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman overboard.
House seats, governorships, and state legislative chambers, including the New York Senate, will flip to the Democrats. Even weak Democratic incumbents will return to office. The collapse of the Dow Jones, followed by the freezing of the credit market, is a tombstone for the party in office.
Pundits will proclaim the end of the GOP and the conservative movement. These will be recycled obits from 1964 and 1974. President Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964 recorded a landslide victory over Senator Barry Goldwater. The Democrats ended up with 295 House seats and 68 Senate seats compared to 140 and 32 respectively for the Republicans. That is a total rout!
1974 was the Watergate election. The Democrats emerged with 291 House seats and 60 Senators. That too was a rout!
Yet, a Republican, Richard Nixon, won the Presidency in 1968, and out of the Goldwater debacle, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, rose Ronald Reagan and the modern conservative movement. Governor Reagan won the Presidency in 1980 and carried Republicans to control in the Senate.
The Republicans climbed to political success in 1994 by capturing both the House and Senate. The November 21, 1994 cover of U.S. News & World reports is headed “The Charge of the Right Brigade.”
Republicans are obviously hoping for repeats in 2010 and 2012, betting on overreaching by the Democrats, and a further slipping of the economy. The Democrats will be sorely tempted to overreach with health care, taxes, environmental regulation, labor unions, immigration, trial lawyers and the United Nations. A couple of false steps will lead to high inflation.
The base of the Republican Party had historically been Wall Street, Main Street, rural America, and the suburbs, populated by middle class residents who fled the corruption, crime, poor educational systems, and poverty of the cities for the open space, single family homes, and quality education of the suburbs.
Both Nixon and Reagan expanded the base of the Republican Party. President Nixon implemented the Southern strategy for the Republicans, in the long run trading the shrinking Northeast for the growing and conservative South. President Reagan reached out to the Blue Collar Democrats, the McComb County Democrats, and to the religious conservatives.
The Republican base has been shrinking in recent years. The suburbs have been trending Democrat, mostly because of social issues, especially abortion. Single women have increasingly voted Democratic as have the professional classes.
Economic conservatives abandoned the Party in 2006 as the Republicans became just as spendthrift, wasteful, venal and corrupt as their Democratic colleagues.
A caveat for the Republicans is that it cannot succeed as a “whites only” party in an increasingly diverse population. President Bush and Senator Obama recognized this reality, but the McCain Kennedy Immigration Reform Bill failed. The GOP must expand its base past the political immigrants (especially Cubans and Vietnamese) to the economic Hispanic immigrants.
The challenge for President Obama is to transform a center right populace to a European state oriented/dependent population as the Democratic Party becomes a European Social Democrat party.
The Democrats are the party of government – not of free enterprise.
President Obama will attempt to make the middle class, indeed most of the population, dependent upon the government. His redistributionist plan is to transfer tax credits to the middle class, thereby buying their support. Medical care will be funneled through a single payor system; i.e. the state, joining Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid in tying large numbers of the population to Washington.
If over half the population becomes dependent upon the government through employment, programs, and tax credits, then the Democrats will have an inherent advantage in future elections. In essence, the urban Democrats will extend their reach into traditional Republican bailiwicks. It will be difficult for Republicans to wean the middle class off the government once they become addicted to the government largesse.
This goal is a matter of politics, not of economics. To the extent that private entrepreneurs will be discouraged, and that capital may flee to Asia, will not be an unwelcome development since the remaining population will be increasingly dependent upon the state.
Out of tomorrow will rise new Republican leaders, the Palin Republicans, to replace the “Pork Barrel” Republicans.