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Thursday, November 9, 2006

The Winds of Political Change

I've been digesting the nation's winds of political change for 24 hours now and feel it's time to put some thoughts down since I had been so vocal in my opposition to the President and the GOP Congress prior to the election.

I'm sure I'm one of a select few who celebrated the election returns in both 1994 and in 2006. The former was a magical moment of optimism that I'll always remember sharing with a friend and fellow political junkie over a 4 hour long-distance phone call as we both watched Comrade Bernie Shaw sorrowfully deliver election results late into the night. The latter was a moment I embraced even though it didn't provide nearly the same fulfillment. Rather, for me, it brought more of a satisfaction with seeing justice served.

One of my political heroes, G. Gordon Liddy, wrote shortly before the election, "When your child is naughty you spank him, but you don't kill him." As much as I will always admire the G-Man, I've disagreed with that sentiment very strongly for these past two years. You see, in my opinion, there was no way to "spank" President Bush or the Republican Congress. As all the pundits said prior to the votes, a Republican hold of Congress (no matter how small) would have been a victory for the President.

And this President did not deserve a victory last night. Iraq alone dictates that much. But uncontrolled spending and failed promises to the conservatives who elected him certainly didn't help.

This Congress composed past and present of the likes of Dennis Hastert, Tom DeLay, Bob Ney, Randy Cunningham, Tom Reynolds, Mark Foley, Arlen Specter, George Allen, and Lincoln Chaffee did not deserve such a victory.

So I say, yes, even Nancy Pelosi herself deserved victory on Tuesday more than that sorry group. Why? Because I and millions like me just couldn't adopt the attitude of, "They're still better than the Democrats." To me, it's only natural that as a conservative I hold the Republican Party to a higher standard of success. And when they painfully betray that trust, I have to find a way to punish them for it much more severely than a mere spanking. Afterall, that's the very purpose of an effective republic -- accountability.

So let me pat myself on the back since I already enjoy a reputation for doing so. Might as well live up to it tonight, especially when my track record on this election gives me the right. A couple of Big Daddy's predictions that surprisingly came true:

12/31/05 -- Big Daddy Jeff at Geek Soap Box, "2006 prediction: Democrats take at least one house of Congress."

11/05/06 -- Big Daddy Jeff at Political Spectrum, "I wouldn't be surprised if Rummy's was the first head from the White House to roll following Tuesday's elections, despite Bush's recent proclamation."

Bingo. And bingo. And I feel we're better for both happening. Time will tell. And either the Democrats will pleasantly surprise us with domestic change, greater accountability, and much-needed oversight on Iraq, or the GOP will hopefully have no choice but finally to realize the necessity of rising to fill the vacuum of the moment and renew both their values and leadership.

Finally, I want to bring back some contrary New Year's predictions from a few co-bloggers concerning Tuesday's election. I preface this by saying how I have always and will continue to value the opinions and insights of these friends of mine above almost all others in my life. That said, here goes.

"No way in hell will the Dems retake Congress. I see nothing from them to indicate that they will ever offer any sort of honest and optimistic plan that can resonate with the nation."

"Gotta disagree on the jackasses retaking one chamber of Congress - Senate impossible and House highly unlikely unless they grow brains and figure out how to nationalize an off-year election - and they're much more likely to put a contract ON America rather than with America".

"Jeff, as always, is Mr. Optimist. The Dems will lose seats in both Houses this year. And Dean will be gone by December."

I have understandably earned the political scorn of my friends by drifting to the center, at least in terms of party affiliation. This post may or may not help. But this is why I did it: I truly believed we reached the point sometime after the 2004 election where this Tuesday's outcome became inevitable. And I revisit these predictions not so much as to boast, but rather to impress just how seminal I believe the election of 2006 was. As we look back on the disappointments of our Republican leaders, let us recall that at one time this did not have to happen. In fact, these words reveal that to the near end, many did not even think it could happen.

But it did. And for real reasons. So let's digest those reasons and maybe both parties will emerge better for doing so. If not, 2008 may prove the most important (and the harshest) election in our nation's history.

On a personal note, I can't help but feel a sense of needing to pull back. For better or for worse, I've been caught up in this election, in Iraq, and certainly on old Rummy himself, as I was often reminded. I'm ready to ease up on the passion and accept that life will go on as usual. Maybe I can even work on really being Mr. Optimist? But, I admit, that will take considerable effort!

Now if only I could get one of my annual "Braves win the World Series" predictions to come true?!? Maybe not.