I’m very happy about the election results last night, but in some ways a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong: this is great. We’ve come a long way from Newsweek telling us that “we’re all socialists now” and TIME declaring that Republicans were endangered species.
Make no mistake… the Tea Party was an enormous force in this election. We wouldn’t have taken the House if it wasn’t. Tea Party-backed House candidates were winning left and right. The problem is that the two highest profile Senate candidates (Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell) lost. Big picture, it’s not that big of a deal. It almost worked out perfectly. We still have 47 Senate seats, maybe 49 when it’s all said and done. It’s actually better for the Republicans that they didn’t take the Senate. Obama can’t “run against Congress,” and with such a slim majority the Republicans in the House can pretty much dictate the Senate’s agenda anyway. Even Harry Reid maintaining his Senate seat has a silver lining in that Republicans get to keep around a high profile whipping boy. My worry is not about the Democrats, it’s about the Republican Party and its future.
Will the Republican Party elite get the message from the Tea Party that principle over pragmatism is paramount? When the most highly publicized Tea Party races are lost, I worry that it won’t. The losses make the sentiments behind the Tea Party look weak, even though they are the reason the Republicans are back in business right now. A majority means nothing unless it is principled, and if the Republicans return to the RINO-led, “compassionate” strategy that was anything but, they will lose Congress in the same manner that they lost it before. John Boehner seemed to understand this in his speech last night, but it’s one thing to speak the rhetoric and another thing to practice it. It remains to be seen what the Republicans will do here.
I don’t want to rain on this parade too much here. I am very, very happy. However, it’s a cautious optimism, and there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. Government doesn’t shrink itself.