Obama Was the Issue
At the risk of demonstrating a keen grasp of the obvious, Obama was THE issue in this campaign. Republican campaigns were like the gun store with the “Salesman of the Year” poster of Obama over the counter. And he was making the cash register ring.
Liberals tried to suggest that 2014 was an “election about nothing”, but that’s because it was all about their guy, his agenda and the big government that comes along with it. Obama was such an issue that many Democrat candidates wouldn’t admit to voting for him, or even that they supported him and his policies – to which Obama quickly reminded everyone that, yes they did.
Leave it to a narcissist to confirm that it was all about him.
The results speak for themselves. Democrats even lost in deep blue states like Maryland and Illinois…a few of the places where Obama actually dared to campaign. In a happy bit or irony, half of the Senate Democrats who voted for Obamacare are now gone.
If you accept (as Democrats suggested) that Obama had a mandate for “Hope and Change” after the 2008 election, you have to admit that it’s as gone as a goose in winter now.
Republicans Still Need to Define an Agenda
In 1994 Republicans successfully nationalized the off-year elections around an issues based agenda. It worked spectacularly. Then in 2010 and now they succeeded simply by “not being Obama”, which tells you something about how popular Obama is with voters.
But that won’t be enough in the next election. Democrats will continue to run away from Obama like scalded dogs because his ineptness has given the big government their agenda needs such a bad name that they will eventually need to throw him under the bus. That goes double for the next Democrat presidential nominee.
Remember, for liberals, government is never the problem. It is always that someone is just “not doing it right”, or it just needs a little more of your money. The success of their agenda always takes priority, even if that means violating politically correct “ethics” and blaming a guy who happens to be the first black president.
The best way to put forward a national governing vision is to start legislating now, not simply sit back and leave defining an agenda up to the next Republican presidential nominee.
2015 offers the GOP the perfect opportunity to use Obama as a foil to define what they are, and what Democrats are by way of their opposition. They need to demonstrate just who the problem is by piling bill after bill on Obama’s desk – including a repeal of Obamacare – and make him have to keep switching veto pens because they run out of ink.
Gridlockamageddon is Coming!
You think you’ve seen gridlock? You ain’t seen nothing yet baby. You can almost hear it now, the copious wailing and gnashing of teeth in the media and the DC political class about more gridlock and obstruction now that Republicans run both the US House and the Senate.
Even in defeat, Harry Reid set the table with his “congratulatory” statement, saying, “The message from voters is clear: they want us to work together”. Really? If voters wanted a Congress that would “work with Obama”, they must need glasses or they would have voted to put Democrats in control. Instead they voted for Republicans who made it quite clear that they opposed Obama, Obamacare and Obamanomics, and would work to rein him in.
In other words, they voted for what the media will call obstruction and gridlock.
Have you ever noticed that “gridlock” or “obstruction” is usually defined as Republicans not giving Democrats what they want? But if it was gridlock for House Republicans not to work with Senate Democrats and a Democrat President, will it be gridlock for a Democrat President not to work with a Republican House and a Republican Senate? Don’t hold your breath.
The gridlock apocalypse is upon us!
Good Candidates Matter
Much has been made by political establishment types over suggesting that Republicans did well because they kept too many kooky conservatives from being nominated this year. They say the lesson is that when they pick the candidates, Republicans will prevail.
But the fact is that good candidates usually do well (or at least better) regardless of the political environment or what they believe. Being a good candidate who can effectively communicate is divorced from “what” is being communicated, (see: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton).
Republicans fielded high-quality candidates in most races this year, and it clearly made a difference. But don’t let anyone suggest that conservatives don’t make good candidates. Just look at Joanie Ernst in Iowa, and Ben Sasse in Nebraska, both supported by Tea Party conservatives. (See also: Scott Walker, Tim Scott, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, etc.)
It’s just a fact of life that there is large group of people in politics who just want to win, and they and their money gravitate towards quality candidates who look like they can. If conservatives start spending real time focusing on identifying the best candidates to run up and down the ballot in 2016 and start coalescing around them, odds are more of those fence sitters will come along for the ride.
Enjoy the win…but start getting ready for the next fight.