Scott Brown's stunning victory in Massachusetts has predictably generated comparisons of the current political landscape to 1994, when Republicans swept the mid-term elections, propelling them to majority status in both houses of Congress. From local and state level offices all the way to Washington, Democrats suffered severe losses, while not a single incumbent Republican in any congressional or gubernatorial race was defeated.
In the midst of that enormous conservative groundswell, one hapless Republican managed to throw his race even though the Democrat opponent was, according to the polls, more vulnerable than at any other time in his decades-long political career. Sadly, that Republican had bought into the philosophy, popular among GOP "moderates," that casting one's self as a watered-down imitation of the opposition might somehow be a winning strategy. Throughout most of their televised debate, the Republican did little other than to agree in principle with his ultimately victorious Democrat opponent.
This episode is now particularly poignant and ironic, since the seat in question was none other than that of Senator Ted Kennedy. Had he adopted a strategy of highlighting the miserable failures of the liberal agenda and contrasted the superiority of conservatism against it, Mitt Romney, the ill-fated challenger, might well have sent Kennedy off into retirement sixteen years ago.
The differences between Romney's 1994 Senate bid, and Scott Brown's successful effort, are striking. Beyond that, it is apparent that the mood of the electorate is increasingly aligned with conservatism, which could bode very well for the Republicans in November.
Yet if the nation rallies and delivers Republicans a victory this fall, only to have the Party revert afterwards to its arrogant and elitist mindset, the massive public rage unleashed against Democrats at Townhall meetings and Tea Parties during the past year will be thereafter redirected squarely at the GOP. Unfortunately, if past history is any indication, a real danger of this possibility exists.
America is indeed on the precipice of a drastic congressional "house cleaning." Which is why the liberal political establishment on Capitol Hill and in the media has embarked on a strategy of two thoroughly contradictory efforts, proving that both signify posturing, and neither is genuine. On the one hand, they assure us that only "moderate" candidates can win (Every effort is now being made to recast Scott Brown as a "centrist."). Concurrently, from Obama down to the most junior members of Congress, Democrats are themselves suddenly sounding very "conservative."
The duplicitous nature of this ploy is abundant for all to see. If moving to the right is a bad idea for aspiring Republican candidates, why would liberals be scurrying in that very direction, at least when posing in front of the cameras?
Last year, many among the "intelligentsia" had concluded quite the opposite. Liberal congressional gains, along with Obama's election, were offered as proof that the ascendancy of liberalism as the dominant national philosophy was complete and irreversible. Several prominent political chameleons, who had infiltrated the Republican Party, presumed that conditions were right to come out in the open and shift the entire political landscape leftward, effectively relegating conservatives to the political "fringe."
Based on such a presumption, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Bush appointee, endorsed Obama in the waning days of the campaign. On April 28 2009, barely three months after Obama's inauguration, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter renounced his alliance to the GOP and joined the Democrats. Others, such as former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Florida Governor Charlie Crist, became cheerleaders for a reinvented Republican Party that would be much more compatible with the statist aspirations and methods of the Democrats.
But their appraisal of real political winds was dreadfully wrong. It resulted from the combination of an unprincipled pragmatism that had remained dormant in seemingly less opportunistic times, and an utterly misguided interpretation of the events of the 2008 election cycle. In truth, public disillusionment with Republican candidates resulted not from conservative excesses, but from their lack of courageous and boldness in advancing conservatism. The evidence, despite media efforts to cloud and suppress it, is overwhelming.
Of course Scott Brown's Massachusetts triumph represents a crown jewel. Even in this bluest of "blue states," Brown demonstrated that an ideology of higher, not merely cheaper, principles will inspire voters to cross over party lines. But his success is only the latest iteration of this pattern, beginning with the stunning rise of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin upon her selection as Vice-presidential running mate for Senator John McCain, and continuing right through the off year governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey.
The electoral reverberations have not stopped there however. Arlen Specter faces a real challenge from Pennsylvania Congressman Pat Toomey. And that is if he even survives a challenge from within his own party during the Democrat Primary. In Arizona, McCain now faces a similar challenge from former Republican Congressman JD Hayworth. Historically steadfast conservatives, both Toomey and Hayworth embody the sort of unfailing conservatism and devotion to the traditional and constitutional values that energize and inspire the "grassroots" of real America. As such they hold a clear advantage in the current political climate.
Likewise, Florida Governor Crist now finds himself trailing being Marco Rubio, a conservative Republican challenger who, last summer and fall, was as much of a "long shot" to win the primary as Brown was once considered to be in the Massachusetts General Election.
In the face of renewed conservative optimism and energy, Democrats are scrambling and floundering. It is critical that real Republican conservatives assert themselves, reaffirm the conservative and constitutional foundations of the GOP, and prevent party "moderates" from moving the debate to the fabled "center," thereby throwing the liberal opposition a lifeline.
Copyright ©2010 Christopher G. Adamo