Last Tuesday, November 8th, came the great electoral reckoning that political wise men – as well as numerous political wisenheimers – had predicted to be a great Red Wave, sweeping all the Biden Democrats out of office and putting Republicans in charge of the country.
Now, a week later, with most of the vote-counting done, liberal writers and TV-reporters (but I repeat myself) are cracking wise about the promised wave turning out to be no more than a trickle – or maybe just a puddle. With massive numbers of mail-in ballots showing up in several states, Democrats seem to have held off the “wave” and retained control of the Senate. Results for the House of Representatives still aren’t clear, but Republicans appear to have gained enough seats to take control, with a slim majority of perhaps 219 to 216.
Not exactly the rompin’, stompin’ victory that so many prognosticators had promised, was it? Conservatives who had hoped to run the table are much disappointed. Democrats are popping champagne-corks. And Good Old Joe Biden – that legendary “unifier” of the American people – is rejoicing over the rout of the MAGA Fascists and jubilantly declaring that his policies have been vindicated. Democrat historians are calling it the Miracle of ‘22.
How did this reversal happen? Political graybeards are engaged in elaborate head-scratching and speculation about young voters and women casting early Democrat votes because of Joe Biden’s student-loan forgiveness and the Supreme Court’s cancellation of the Roe vs. Wade abortion protections. These issues may well have been influential, but there was probably more to it.
When even Democrats are out there proclaiming a probable Red Wave, what can we make of that? At least two things, as I see it.
- They are telling Republican voters to relax. It’s in the bag – a sure thing. No need to take off from work to stand in line at a polling place.
- They are telling Democrat voters that this is a capital E emergency. We can’t be sitting around waiting for the hammer to fall. So get out there and vote (early and often). Collect those mail-in ballots and get them turned in to the polling places. Do whatever it takes to turn this thing around.
Were those dynamics operable last week, and in preceding weeks? We’ll never know for sure, but it’s at least likely. Republicans are famous for sitting on their thumbs as the Democrat-parade romps past. But Democrats don’t take a loss – either possible or actual – lying down.
The 2016 election was a perfect demonstration of Democrats’ modus operandi. Did the Hillary-and-Barack Team fold their tents and tell their followers: “Well, that’s it. We lost, and it’s all over.” No such thing. They had a Russian collusion story all ready to go, and they hammered Donald Trump with it for his entire term – totally spooking the Republicans into buying the Russian-interference tale. Now, two years after Democrats finally beat him – by fair means and foul – they’re still kicking him, to make sure he never gets up. You’ve got to admire persistence like that. Some of it was surely at work in the recent elections.
Beyond these horse-race factors, though, it’s worth a closer look at whether the election produced a win or a loss for one party or another – or for the country as a whole. Failing to control the Senate was certainly disappointing for Republicans. Dems’ slim majority means they can approve Joe Biden’s judicial nominees, unless some Democrats cross the aisle. They could still try to ditch the filibuster, but that idea flopped before and probably won’t fly now.
With respect to the economy, though, control of the House of Representatives is the really big deal. The Constitution specifies that all financial bills must originate in that body. Evidently, many voters and even some members of Congress seem unaware of that restriction, but hopefully Republican leaders understand it well. The Speaker has power to control which bills can come to the House Floor for a vote. He can stop Joe Biden’s deficit-spending almost singlehandedly. Without control of the Senate it will be difficult for Republicans to undo most of Joe Biden’s previous inflationary spending, but half a loaf is certainly better than none.
Was this election really an unexpected “loss” for Republicans, and a miraculous “win” for Democrats? Let’s look at the numbers. In the 117th Congress (2021-’23), Democrats held 222 seats, to Republicans’ 213. This meant that the GOP had to turn just five Democrat seats to achieve a 218-217 majority. At this writing, it appears that they have gained six seats to produce a margin of 219-216. Not exactly a breakaway win, but definitely a good result.
Senate party-ranks were tied, 50-50, in the 117th Congress. Every two years a third of Senate seats stand for election: this year the exact number was 34 seats. Of these, 20 were held by Republicans, and 14 by Democrats. Defending all twenty of the GOP-held seats looked like a steep climb, so losing one or two of them was a near certainty. In today’s political climate – with Democrat-aligned media warning old folks that Republicans planned to cancel Medicare and Social Security (a threat first mentioned in the Dead Sea scrolls) – wild predictions that Republicans would turn several Democrat-held seats were pipe-dreams.
Some analysts thought high gas-prices, inflation, 5 million aliens crossing our borders, and transgender-champion liberals pushing physical-mutilations on minor children would tip the Democrats’ boat over. But this proved not to be the case. Even political experts didn’t seem to recognize that many Democratic voters are “takers” from government who aren’t touched by those issues which roil the Republican ranks. I heard one commentator say it would take “a lot more than this” to turn Democrat voters against the party that has been their dependable “gravy train.”
Despite the media-hyped gloom about the Red Wave that didn’t happen, there were some bright spots across the country for conservatives. The Wave certainly swept Florida, as Republicans won every statewide office that was on the ballot. Miami-Dade and DeKalb counties went all Republican, and Governor DeSantis won re-election by 20 points. New York Republicans also flipped four House seats to furnish a key bloc in the GOP House majority. Republicans also flipped House seats in several western states.
It’s possible that Joe Biden will actually believe that voters have endorsed his war on fossil fuels, lavish spending, hard sell on $70,000 electric cars, open borders, war-agitation in Ukraine, abortion-on-demand, and a politicized Department of Justice. That belief might encourage him to give us more of the same, but color me “doubtful” on that score. Good Old Joe is already talking about running for a second term, so one presumes that some members of his inner circle must understand that you can go only so far with this radical agenda, before it all comes tumblin’ down.
Most of what Joe Biden can legally do via executive orders has already been done, so for the next two years his gang will need to tone things down to convince centrist voters that Moderate Joe is really on their side. On the other hand, nobody ever came out ahead by betting on a “reasonable” Joe Biden. So it’s entirely possible that he’ll go even farther to the left than ever, and it will be the Devil’s own job to stop him.
Along those lines, a GOP-controlled House should launch investigations into Hunter Biden’s foreign financial dealings, and possibly into Joe Biden’s own involvement. Impeachment charges should be brought against Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray for politicizing the Department of Justice; and against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for failing to secure our borders. Republicans usually don’t have much appetite for this kind of bare-knuckle fighting, so it’s far from clear that they will move in that direction.
Investigations into election irregularities and fraud in several states should be Job One for the GOP-controlled House. A Democrat-controlled Congress has kept silent on these issues for two years. Passage of new laws is unlikely, since Democrats believe that they benefit from current election-practices. Nevertheless, hearings will show the public where the problems are, and might help states and localities to make corrections.
Media cries for Republicans to “reach across the aisle” will certainly arise, as they always do when Republicans control the House or Senate. Members of both parties working together to help the country would obviously be a good thing, but in the current political climate it’s not very likely. The parties stand far apart on proposed policy. Even so, comity needs to be re-established in the People’s House. It’s long overdue.
Republicans need to proclaim their social and economic vision loudly and clearly, and move ahead on it with all deliberate speed. Good politicking in the Senate might persuade a few Democrats to help the GOP pass legislation that will pull the country out of the ditch our current leaders have run us into. “Unifier” Joe might veto these bills, but he’ll have to explain why he did so.
Republicans didn’t gain the strength they hoped for from this election. But they’re stronger than they were, and there’s no value in moping about what didn’t go as conservatives had hoped. They need to get to work without delay. There’s no time to waste. Politics is a rough and tumble sport. Republicans need to put on the pads and take the field.
Go Redskins! (Oops. There I go again…)
“If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.” (Thomas Jefferson)
“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.” (Patrick Henry)