by John Hawkins | January 30, 2008 5:58 am
“There is this unspoken assumption among a lot of Republicans that maybe a defeat in November might not be such a bad thing and the right thing to do is go down with the ship and then we can return to the true Reagan principles and the party will be stronger for it. Well, if we lose in November, when this ship goes down, it’s going to be a big vortex in the sea. We face the possibility of having a strong Democratic president, an increased majority for the Democrats in both houses of Congress. The way will be open for a new burst of governmental activism, which we have not seen before. Bill Clinton tried it in 1993, and he failed. Jimmy Carter’s plans blew up on the launch pad.
The last time we’ve seen a successfully burst of Democratic activism was 1964-65. We are in real danger of seeing a similar thing again, and it will be pretty negative for the future of the country. That’s one possibility. Another is, when you lose in this way, you can often lose for a very long time. Parties that lose often react not by adapting but by retreating to their core principles and becoming even more of a minority party than ever. We can all see how that happened with the Democrats. After the defeat of 1980, how do they respond? They revert to their old New Deal roots in 1984 and offer Walter Mondale saying “Everything that Roosevelt and Truman didn’t do, I’ll do.” They got beat worse in 1984 than they got beat in 1980. Then they got beat in 1988. Even in 1992, they were only back up to 42 percent of the vote.
If you get on to a bad path in politics, you can be out for a long time. When is the Republican congressional majority going to return? It’s not something where you say, “Well, we’ll lose and then we’ll recover.” It’s hard to recover in American politics.” — David Frum
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