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More on the Conservative Case for Pelosi:

Critics of my suggestion that the country may be better off, from a conservative/libertarian point of view, if the Republicans lose the House of Representatives make three main arguments:

1. The claim that incoming Democratic committee chairmen will cause greate harm.

2. The danger that the Republicans will react to defeat by moving to the left.

3. That a Democratic House might defund the Iraq War, causing a catastrophic defeat.

I don't think that any of these points are compelling enough to justify holding off on throwing the bums out. Yes, it is true that the Democrats are likely to appoint some very liberal and (in some cases) dubiously competent committee chairs. But the Democratic House majority is likely to be narrow, and the committee chairs' more extreme proposals could be killed by the full House, where the swing voters will be more moderate centrist Democrats. Any far left bill that does clear the House stands to be killed by the still-GOP controlled Senate. If worse comes to worse, President Bush could veto it. Presumably, he will be far more willing to veto dubious Democratic bills than those of his fellow Republicans. Finally, as commenter Angus points out, some of the Republican committee chairmen are not much to write home about either.

I am also skeptical that the Republicans will react to defeat by moving to the left. If the Republicans lose, it will almost certainly be because of the widespread (and at least in part accurate) perception that they have been foolish and incompetent. As I have documented elsewhere, most voters - particularly swing voters - have only very limited knowledge of ideology and are unlikely to respond to ideological changes at the margin. To paraphrase Michael Dukakis, a Republican defeat in 2006, if it happens, will be far more about competence than ideology, and GOP political strategists will be able to figure this out. Moreover, if the GOP moves any further to the left than it already has on size of government issues, it risks a backlash from conservative activists (who care far more about ideOlogy than most ordinary voters do). Finally, it is worth remembering that the last three major GOP defeats in national elections - 1964, 1976, and 1992 - led the Party to react by moving to the right, not the left. Smaller defeats in 1982, 1986, 1996 and 1998 also did not cause much leftward movement.

I highly doubt that a Democratic House would defund the Iraq War. Democrats are deeply divided about what to do in Iraq. Enough of them oppose an immediate withdrawal that any effort to defund the war would almost certainly fail to pass in a House of Representatives with only a small Democratic majority. Even some very liberal Democrats might hesitate to vote for such a measure, since doing so would saddle the Party with the blame for the resulting military defeat if it passes. On the other hand, the Democrats will probably be more willing than Republicans to provide some tough adult oversight for the Bush Administration's far from optimal use of the funds already allocated for Iraqi reconstruction.

In short, bring on Nancy Pelosi!

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. More on the Conservative Case for Pelosi:
  2. Conservatives for Nancy Pelosi:
PersonFromPorlock:
Well, I agree. Which probably means you're in trouble.
9.16.2006 5:45pm
Ted Frank (www):
The main argument I've seen in my in-box (which isn't addressed here) is that a Democratic-controlled House will harass Republican officeholders with meritless conspiracy-theory-driven legal investigations in retaliation for the 1998 impeachment.

Crazy Democrats running House committees would be a good reminder to the electorate how much worse an anti-capitalist administration could be in 2008, so that's not necessarily a bad thing for that to happen while the damage can be relatively contained.

The risk of the Republicans moving in the wrong direction on important economic issues is non-trivial: we've already seen the Republicans roll over for Sarbanes-Oxley, for McCain-Feingold, and the Republican-controlled legislature has held hearings going after basic supply-and-demand transactions with accusations of "price gouging" and "unconscionable interest rates." We could end up with the worst of all worlds where the Democrats move right on social issues and the Republicans move left on economic issues, and both move isolationist on foreign policy.
9.16.2006 5:49pm
TJIT (mail):
There is no certainty that a democratic house will result in gridlock.

Furthermore, this idea just treats the symptom (out of control republicans) and does nothing to fix the underlying problems which include.

1. The institution itself
2. The quality of candidates running
3. The campaign finance (incumbent protection) environment
4. The gerrymandered (incumbent protection) districts

If you really want to change things change will have to take place at the primary level of the state races, items 3 and 4 make this difficult.

However, you can look to the club for growth for a good model to follow here. They support fiscally conservative pro growth candidates at the primary level. They have had some real success with candidates they have supported including Tom Coburn and Jeff Flake who have been strong drivers in earmark and spending reform.

One painless thing the republicans could do to reduce spending increases is to junk baseline budgeting and go to straight budgeting. This would end the ratchet effect of increasing budget allocations and stop the nonsense of calling a reduction in the rate of growth in spending a budget cut.
9.16.2006 6:16pm
Ilya Somin:
The main argument I've seen in my in-box (which isn't addressed here) is that a Democratic-controlled House will harass Republican officeholders with meritless conspiracy-theory-driven legal investigations in retaliation for the 1998 impeachment.

I am skeptical that this will be such a big problem. Republican harrassment-by-investigation of the Clinton administration did not prevent Clinton from pursuing his preferred policies. Moreover, the White House and GOP-controlled Senate have various political tools for punishing committee chairs who go too far. There WILL be some politically motivated investigations. But I think we can live with that. Moreover, the Democrats could hold some oversight hearings on Bush Admnistration screwups (e.g. - the allocation of Iraq spending) that might do some good.

The risk of the Republicans moving in the wrong direction on important economic issues is non-trivial: we've already seen the Republicans roll over for Sarbanes-Oxley, for McCain-Feingold, and the Republican-controlled legislature has held hearings going after basic supply-and-demand transactions with accusations of "price gouging" and "unconscionable interest rates."

I agree that the Republicans have gotten a lot wrong on important economic issues. That's one of the reasons I hope they get spanked in November. But note that none of the above dubious policies was caused by a Republican electoral defeat. I don't think that electoral defeat will exacerbate the negative trends in the Party, and it may help to rein them in by thinning out the ranks of centrist big government Republicans and by demonstrating that massive spending cannot ensure a perpetual Republican majority, as Tom DeLay and others hoped.
9.16.2006 6:43pm
John (mail):
The law of unintended consequences will doom this cute strategy.

People should vote for the candidate whose views suggest he or she would act in accordance with the voter's wishes. Period. This will minimize the effects of the law of unintended consequences, it seems to me.
9.16.2006 6:46pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
The conservative case for Pelosi is an exercise in self-delusion. It assumes that the damage the Democrats will do either won't occur in the first place, or can easily be fixed. The Democrats and the far left are laughing at you for holding such defeatist attitudes. You never see them in such a state of retreat. They can't wait to reclaim power and push their agenda. They will tie up the government with impeachment hearings. They will try everything to neuter the war on terror. They will raise taxes on the middle class. They will push for more and draconian gun control. The Senate's bill on immigration will pass when the few House conservatives opposing it disappear. Bush will sign it, and you will never reverse it. The extreme left is gaining more and more influence over the Democrats, and a win in November will strengthen their hand and drive the party even further left. What are you going to do if they take the Senate and the presidency in 2008? Then it will really be payback time. The "conservative case for Pelosi" shows that some conservatives really have no stomach to wield power—they want to go back to just writing essays.
9.16.2006 7:05pm
unhyphenatedconservative (mail):
Given that the House has been a conservative bulwark against a more liberal Senate, it seems that losing the House would be a substantial defeat for conservatives.
9.16.2006 7:41pm
Medis:
I think it is quite likely that the Republicans would blame in part their free-spending ways for losing the House. Indeed, in general I think they would look at the many ways they have violated the Contract for America which brought them into power in the first place.
9.16.2006 7:50pm
Brian Garst (www):
As a conservative, I've been aware for a while now the possible upside of a Republican loss. Specifically, that it would awaken them to their errant ways. But there's no guarantee of that, either. They could just as easily turn leftward.

In the end, I think there's too much at stake. Do we really want an impeached judge in charge of the intelligence committee? Republicans have given me no reason to vote for them, but Democrats have given me too many reasons to vote against them. Until the Democaritc party decides that Americas welfare is more important than partisan gain, they can't be allowed any more power.
9.16.2006 8:29pm
Medis:
Brian,

You say: "Until the Democaritc party decides that Americas welfare is more important than partisan gain, they can't be allowed any more power."

I think by that standard, you will have to find some independents to vote for.
9.16.2006 8:44pm
scepticalrepub:
The best argument against your position is that GWB would then be able to push through his immigration amnesty as his crowning "legacy." But for that issue I too would like to see the Repubs get their clock cleaned this election.
9.16.2006 9:10pm
James of England:
I'm almost single issue, on trade. Speaker Pelosi would put an end to Congressional-Executive Agreements. I'd be happy to see a Dem. House if there were enough free trading Senate votes for treaties to pass, but as it is, a Dem. win will screw the world's trade. No renewal of Fast Track in '07 would be the most obvious loss.
9.16.2006 9:20pm
Third Party Beneficiary (mail):
"Crazy Democrats running House committees would be a good reminder to the electorate how much worse an anti-capitalist administration could be in 2008"

I'm sorry, are you operating under the delu... uh, impression that the Republican Party in its present form is pro-capitalist?
9.16.2006 9:30pm
dick thompson (mail):
I would be very interested in just who the democrats are who would offer us adult supervision on the war. I surely haven't seen any in the House at all. Murtha? He wanted to move the troops to Okinawa which is 6000 miles away and would take 3 refuelings and 10 hours to fly to Iraq. Does that make any sense at all?

What others would you suggest? The ones who claim that playing loud music is torture? That keeping people awake 24 hours is torture? That is about all the democrats have brought to the table on the war. Other than that they have no plan except set a definite timetable but then that would just give the terrorists a date to wait for and then they are free to do their worst.

Then the democrats want to raise the taxes. Have you ever seen the democrats raise the taxes when they didn't raise the spending? And when they raise the taxes and amount paid in is less than it is now, and it will be, what are you going to do.

We hear all about the balanced budget. Funny about that. It was balanced on Jan 20, 2001 and was in recession in March 2001 without Bush doing anything to change the spending. Was there a surplus or not. Under the circumstances I think it was more an accounting surplus and not an actual surplus.

Then we will see all the programs that are welfare coming back in. They didn't work the first time but now the democrats think if they just throw more money at them they will work again. The welfare reform that the republicans forced on Billy Jeff and which he has been dining out on ever since would fall by the wayside and we would be right back into the welfare mess again.

Until the democrats can come up with a valid program with real goals and real ideas, which is something they have not done for years, then I don't think we can afford to have them in power in either house of the legislature.
9.16.2006 9:40pm
Syd (mail):
1. The claim that incoming Democratic committee chairmen will cause greate harm.


Since the incumbent Republican committee chaimen are already doing harm, this is hardly a compelling argument.

2. The danger that the Republicans will react to defeat by moving to the left.


How is this a problem?

3. That a Democratic House might defund the Iraq War, causing a catastrophic defeat.

Probably not immediately. However, they will be pressuring the administration to make more definite arrangements for withdrawal.
9.16.2006 9:50pm
frankcross (mail):
I think harassment is a code word for accountability. This is the best reason to have at least one house not sharing the party of the executive. Because otherwise there are few investigations, and if there are no investigations, there will be mis mal and nonfeasance. Only a partisan would not want executive officials investigated.
In a democracy, the American people deserve the investigations and they are fully capable of punish investigators who are unduly harassing.
9.16.2006 9:52pm
Ted Frank (www):
I'm sorry, are you operating under the delu... uh, impression that the Republican Party in its present form is pro-capitalist?

With the exception of the SEC (which decided to compete with Spitzer instead of slapping him down), the Bush administration's record in the regulatory agencies has actually been relatively good, and considerably better than a Kerry administration's record would have been. There have been definite legislative setbacks during the Bush administration, but those were at least attempts to relieve anti-free-market pressure coming from the Democrats by co-opting anti-market demagoguery. One can be disappointed by that, but recognize that matters would be considerably worse under a Democratic Party that doesn't even have room for reasonable liberals like Lieberman.

Swing-district Republicans are being attacked for being too "cozy" with pharmaceutical and oil interests, i.e., being too free-market--at least, that's how ATLA advertising is spinning it (they don't dare campaign on opposition to liability reform, which is their true motivation--I doubt their trial lawyer membership paid dues to create political pressure on the question of gas prices).

If the Republicans lose the House, I don't see how they respond by correcting (rather than emphasizing) their anti-free-market tendencies. To suggest otherwise seems to me wishful thinking; the Republicans' revealed preference is that they don't have faith that their free-market policies are their political strong suit, or we'd see them campaigning more on it, rather than on terrorism and gay marriage. The sad reality is that over 90% of the American public thinks that oil companies are to blame for "high" gas prices, and no one's daring to speak out otherwise, much less point out the inconsistency in seeking independence from foreign oil at the same time one is demanding lower prices at the pump.

The best argument for a Pelosi-led House is that it reduces the odds of a Democratic sweep in 2008. Whether that's worth the potential unintended consequences and damage done that Zarkov and Garst point out is a different issue.
9.16.2006 10:18pm
Moral Hazard (mail):
Ilya,

You've explained what you think should happen, but haven't said waht you think people should actually do. Should all Republicans vote for Democrats? Should all Republicans not vote?
9.16.2006 11:07pm
Moral Hazard (mail):
One other thing. An argument you don't discuss is that the Speaker of the House is third in line to the presidency. Would you trust Nancy Pelosi to be commander-in-chief if something happened to the President and Vice-President?
9.16.2006 11:17pm
Kevin P. (mail):
4. Pass an illegal alien amnesty resulting in 12 million illegal aliens gaining a path to citizenship and being able to eventually sponsor about 70 million relatives for permanent residence and citizenship. This will destroy any obligation upon anybody to obey any immigration law in the future.

5. Begin a never ending series of investigations of the White House for the Iraq War, WMD, Enron, the Ohio 2004 elections, Valerie Plame...

6. Wander back towards the ever tantalizing light of gun control... Just recently, Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco passed a ban on handguns and on the sale of all guns.

The mid-term elections are not a referendum or an occasion for punishment. THEY ARE A CHOICE BETWEEN TWO CANDIDATES AND TWO PARTIES. The concept of punishing the Republicans for their wayward behavior by giving control of the House to Democrats lacks any seriousness. And with regard to taxing and spending, while the Republicans have a drinking problem, the Democrats are the party of alcoholics.
9.16.2006 11:40pm
Kevin P. (mail):

In a democracy, the American people deserve the investigations and they are fully capable of punish investigators who are unduly harassing.

Can you name any unduly harassing investigators who were punished?
9.16.2006 11:42pm
frankcross (mail):
Ok, the Republicans and Clinton
9.16.2006 11:54pm
Ilya Somin:
You've explained what you think should happen, but haven't said waht you think people should actually do. Should all Republicans vote for Democrats? Should all Republicans not vote?

I want enough Republicans and independents to vote for the Democrats (or stay home) to give Pelosi a small majority in the House. I certainly wouldn't want ALL Republicans to vote for Democrats or stay home.

Regarding the Speaker of the House being 3rd in line for the presidency, I think that this is not an important point, because it's so incredibly unlikely that both Bush and Cheney will be killed simultaneously. Standard security measures ensure that that the President and VP are kept apart as much as possible. I'm not going to lose any sleep over the incredibly remote possibility that the speaker of the House will become president in the next 2 years.
9.17.2006 12:20am
Syd (mail):
Kevin P. (mail):

5. Begin a never ending series of investigations of the White House for the Iraq War, WMD, Enron, the Ohio 2004 elections, Valerie Plame...

The mid-term elections are not a referendum or an occasion for punishment. THEY ARE A CHOICE BETWEEN TWO CANDIDATES AND TWO PARTIES. The concept of punishing the Republicans for their wayward behavior by giving control of the House to Democrats lacks any seriousness.


First of all, investigation of the White House for the Iraq War and for WMB are the duty of the Congress. If the Republicans won't meet their responsibility, then put in someone who will.

Second, given how the Republican Congress treated Clinton, I think this smacks a lot more of having a guilty conscience.

Third, when the leadership of one party is notably corrupt, it's time to vote them out.

Oh, the party who Spiro Agnew and Dan Quayle one heartbeat away from the Presidency should not speak two loudly about putting Pelosi two heartbeats away.
9.17.2006 1:21am
Lev:

Murtha? He wanted to move the troops to Okinawa which is 6000 miles away and would take 3 refuelings and 10 hours to fly to Iraq.


I have wondered about that. Is the 6000 miles the great circle route from Okinawa to Iraq? If it is, wouldn't that go over, at least, China? How likely is it that China and the Soviet Union Russia would give us overflight rights? And in that case where they would not, what is the actual flight distance?
9.17.2006 2:13am
Lev:

President Bush could veto it. Presumably, he will be far more willing to veto dubious Democratic bills than those of his fellow Republicans.


Excuse me for saying so, but that is magical thinking. Bush has amply shown that he will sign any dubious bill set before him, even when the bill contains things that he himself had previously said would cause him to veto the bill. It doesn't matter whether it is spending on old programs, spending on new programs, MeCain Feingold, or anything else. There is simply no evidence whatsover to support your presumption.
9.17.2006 2:20am
Lev:
I read the columns in the Wash Monthly that were linked to at the other part to this discussion series.

One of the main things I saw as common to the various columns is the..."hurt"...that conservatives had been, if not betrayed, disappointed, by Bush The Younger and that conservative governance principles had been discarded by BTY.

They are a little late to wake up to reality. When BTY started running for President, he had no particular history of legislative goals or accomplishments that he articulated on his own, other than "compassionate conservatism", whatever that meant. In Texas, he was governor, but Texas has a weak governor - the Lt. Governor is much more powerful, and Texas Dems in the state lege were conservative. BTY did not have to fight for anything conservative against "liberals". He did not have to articulate conservative principles against "liberal" arguments.

Believing that he was a conservative was people seeing what they wanted to see - why, of course, a Texas Republican must be a conservative. Now they see the reality, and are hacked off at BTY. They should be hacked off at themselves for self delusions, and at the way the Republican Party chooses its nominees - the party muckety mucks id a preferred candidate, whether Bob Dole or BTY, and support him - heir presumptive. Good luck on the Wash Monthly "conservatives/libertarians" changing that for 2008.

With respect to the divided government thing, there are good things to be said about it, hoping that the two parties will go at each other's throats for advantage etc. But gridlock is not always good, and "legislative logrolling" (both parties get together and everyone gets his special project} and Omnibus Budget Reconcialtion Bills have given us any number of hideous spending abuses and other abominations.

It seems to me the only "conservative" argument that makes any real sense is the one that says if Dems get control of the House they will so screw things up and outrage the public that Dems will never control the House again in the memory of a life in being plus 25 years.

But...that puts the Republicans back in charge and with no more incentive to remain responsible, on spending anyway, that they have remained responsible from 95 to present.

With respect to spending control, the critical factor was "paygo". And as Alan Greenspan said in 2004


For about a decade, the rules laid out in the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990, and the later modifications and extensions of the act, provided a procedural framework that helped the Congress make the difficult decisions that were required to forge a better fiscal balance. However, the brief emergence of surpluses eroded the will to adhere to those rules, and many of the provisions that helped to restrain budgetary decisionmaking in the 1990s--in particular, the limits on discretionary spending and the PAYGO requirements--were violated more and more frequently and eventually allowed to expire.


And for detail on the failure of a divided government to keep control of spending:

CBO
Testimony - Statement of Douglas Holtz-Eakin Director - Reforming the Federal Budget Process



...But the surplus in 1998, the first recorded in nearly 30 years, eliminated the essential purpose of the BEA--to combat and control deficits. In that new fiscal landscape, with projections showing mounting surpluses for the coming decade, the BEA could not restrain the pressures to spend more.

To comply with the letter of the law while boosting discretionary spending above the statutory limits, lawmakers used a number of approaches--including advance appropriations, delays in making obligations and payments, emergency designations, and specific directives. For example, in 1999 and 2000, lawmakers enacted emergency appropriations totaling $34 billion and $44 billion, respectively--far above the annual average for such spending from 1991 to 1998....



9.17.2006 3:38am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Most of the people above who oppose Prof. Somin's proposal/idea seem to be (like the people in Congress) Republicans rather than conservatives. It's easy to see why Republicans might oppose "a never ending series of investigations of the White House for the Iraq War, WMD, Enron, the Ohio 2004 elections, Valerie Plame... " It's not clear why a conservative would. And for someone such as myself -- a libertarian who reluctantly decided Bush was the lesser of two evils in 2004 (the two reasons being the WoT and the elderly members of the Supreme Court) -- it's really hard to see why that's an argument against Speaker Pelosi.

Investigate away. Every minute investigating is a minute not legislating. Every bit of antagonism between a GOP Senate and a Democratic House, between a Democratic House and the president, makes legislating even less likely.

As for the other parade of horrors described above, most of them would depend not on a Democratic House, but upon a Democratic landslide in November. I don't think Prof. Somin is endorsing that, nor is anybody outside of Howard Dean's wet dreams predicting it. Just enough votes to swing the House, and throw up roadblocks in DC. A handful of seat majority for the Democrats will bring Pelosi to power, but will not allow the Democrats to accomplish much of anything substantive.

The only issue where a Democratic takeover might have an effect is immigration, but for those of us who aren't foaming at the mouth about the subject, big whoop. Besides, I'd take a trillion immigrants if that's the price for shutting down the orgy of spending the GOP has been engaged in the past six years.
9.17.2006 4:41am
Enoch:
I highly doubt that a Democratic House would defund the Iraq War. Democrats are deeply divided about what to do in Iraq. Enough of them oppose an immediate withdrawal that any effort to defund the war would almost certainly fail to pass in a House of Representatives with only a small Democratic majority.

That may be true now, but will it still be true after an election that sweeps the Republicans from power and that will be widely interpreted as a decisive defeat for Bush's policy on Iraq? How many moderate Democrats will decide the winds are blowing against the war and vote accordingly? How many moderate Republicans will decide the same thing?
9.17.2006 7:35am
Brett Bellmore:
I'm not sure that a Democratic takeover of the House (I'd prefer it to be the Senate, frankly, if it's going to be one chamber.) wouldn't improve conservatives' position: As the majority, Republican House members must chose leaders who can pass a vote of the whole chamber. As a minority, their leaders need only pass a vote of the Republican caucus. Losing the majority represents the best chance Republicans have of ditching the present leadership, and replacing them with dedicated, ideological conservatives who will actually try to achieve conservative ends.

But let me endorse Lev's point: With the majority, several of the bills Bush and the Republican leadership have pushed through passed with a majority of Democratic votes. They weren't Republican bills in any real sense. Bush is in severe conflict with his own party on any number of issues, and I suspect he'd have no trouble working with a Democratic House. I'd just like to see a Republican leadership that would oppose him on those issues, not aid him in his efforts to roll his own party.
9.17.2006 7:45am
PubliusFL:
"Just enough votes to swing the House, and throw up roadblocks in DC."

This doesn't seem to account for the fact that the tenuous GOP majority in the House has BEEN the ONLY roadblock in DC. The Senate and the White House have been all too willing to approve billions more in wasteful spending. Keep the House GOP, that spending will continue to be blocked. Turn the House over to the Democrats, that spending will go through.

I agree with you, gridlock is good when it stops harmful spending and regulation. But when the Senate and White House are both more liberal than the House with respect to these things, making the House more liberal too will result in less gridlock, not more. At least less gridlock for the harmful things that are reasonably achievable in the absence of the Democratic landslide you mention. Will we see a total gun ban with Pelosi as speaker? No. Will we see tens of billions more tax dollars wasted on pork and harmful social programs? I'd say yes.
9.17.2006 7:55am
PubliusFL:
One more point for Mr. Nieporent:

"Besides, I'd take a trillion immigrants if that's the price for shutting down the orgy of spending the GOP has been engaged in the past six years."

You can't logically say "I don't care about millions of illegal immigrants, I just want to control spending." If you take the spending problem seriously, you know that the 800-lb gorilla in the budget is entitlements. Do you think we'd be better off cleaning up a bunch of petty congressional earmarks but paying for free health care and tuition for millions of new illegal immigrants and their families?
9.17.2006 8:23am
PersonFromPorlock:
Something that seems to have gotten lost here is that the real issue for conservatives isn't the Republican role in government but the conservative one. Regardless of whether the Republican party is in or out of power, conservatives will be 'out' unless they show that ignoring them has a cost. At the moment, the sensible place for such a demonstration is in the House.
9.17.2006 8:35am
Enoch:
As the majority, Republican House members must chose leaders who can pass a vote of the whole chamber. As a minority, their leaders need only pass a vote of the Republican caucus. Losing the majority represents the best chance Republicans have of ditching the present leadership, and replacing them with dedicated, ideological conservatives who will actually try to achieve conservative ends.

What does the record suggest? Republican leaders when they were in the minority, 1955-94, were hardly dedicated, ideological conservatives. They were moderates like Bob Michel and Gerald Ford, who were best known for being nice guys and working with the majority to get whatever crumbs from the table they could. Only when the Republicans achieved a majority did they put ideological conservatives in the driver's seat.
9.17.2006 10:54am
NRWO:
Ilya: "I want enough Republicans and independents to vote for the Democrats (or stay home) to give Pelosi a small majority in the House. I certainly wouldn't want ALL Republicans to vote for Democrats or stay home."

Your goal (. . . to give Pelosi a small majority) and your proposal to reach that goal (enough but not ALL Repubs) seem difficult to reconcile.

How can one encourage ENOUGH but not ALL Repubs (and independents) to vote for Democrats or stay home? What political message could achieve your goal of "ENOUGH but not ALL" at the national level while also minimizing the possibility of crushing defeat?

BTW: Do you intend to stay home, or to vote Democratic?
9.17.2006 4:19pm
David Maquera (mail) (www):
As a Goldwater conservative, I echo previous comments that the House Republicans deserve to lose majority control of the House. Quite frankly, the uncontrolled spending by House Republicans and reckless fiscal irresponsibility has harmed this nation for generations to come.
9.17.2006 6:01pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Your goal (. . . to give Pelosi a small majority) and your proposal to reach that goal (enough but not ALL Repubs) seem difficult to reconcile.
NRWO: it's not that hard. Most Republicans (most Dems, too, of course) are in safe seats. There are only a handful of swing seats in the House. As long as those swing to the Democrats, it will accomplish both goals.
9.17.2006 6:05pm
Third Party Beneficiary (mail):
BTW, I'm very amused by the posters who think a persuasive argument against a Democratic majority in the House is that it would result in a cut in funding for the Iraq war. Given that polls show either a plurality or narrow majority of Americans favor at minimum some sort of cutback in the US presence in Iraq (and typically one-third plus are reported as favoring immediate withdrawl), this would appear to be an argument in favor of voting for Democrats, not against them.
9.17.2006 6:24pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Third Party, I'm not sure I understand your logic. Why should one vote for a Democrat because Democrats might do what polls show other people wanted? Shouldn't you vote for someone who will do what you want, not what polls show other people want?
9.17.2006 8:16pm
Third Party Beneficiary (mail):
David, my point was that if the goal is to prevent a particular party from winning an election, campaiging against its candidates on the grounds that they will undertake to enact popular measures is not likely to be effective. If a poll shows that the majority of voters in a particular district want "X", then threatening the voters that if they vote for a particular candidate that candidate will deliver "X" is unlikely to be a successful opposition strategy.
9.17.2006 8:45pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Third Party, I don't believe anybody here is talking about "campaigning" at all. This is a discussion of who conservatives should want to win, not how to effect that outcome.

Moreover, even if this did constitute campaigning, I think you're ignoring the target of the campaigns. The warnings above are addressed to conservatives, not to the electorate generally. Obviously the electorate isn't likely to oppose a candidate if they hear, "She'll do popular things if elected," but conservatives will (if the popular things are liberal, (or vice versa)). You target your message for the segment of the audience likely to be receptive to it.
9.18.2006 2:51am
Moral Hazard (mail):

I want enough Republicans and independents to vote for the Democrats (or stay home) to give Pelosi a small majority in the House. I certainly wouldn't want ALL Republicans to vote for Democrats or stay home.

Why is that better than Republicans replacing the bad members in primaries? It's speculation either way.


Regarding the Speaker of the House being 3rd in line for the presidency, I think that this is not an important point, because it's so incredibly unlikely that both Bush and Cheney will be killed simultaneously. Standard security measures ensure that that the President and VP are kept apart as much as possible. I'm not going to lose any sleep over the incredibly remote possibility that the speaker of the House will become president in the next 2 years.

Simultaneous assinations is very unlikely I admit, but there are other, more realistic scenarios. Consider if Vice-President Cheney died of a heart attack and then, prior to the confirmation of a replacement George Bush is assasinated?

When you realize that 4 of our 42 presidents have been assasinated and that Dick Cheney has already had some major heart attacks the possibility of the two happening in a short time period doesn't seem that remote.
9.18.2006 5:07am
Wombat:
I find this entire conversation absurd. Of course, that is because I feel that the Democrats have already won back both Houses of Congress (via a "surprising" (to the mass media, anyway) number of losses by incumbents of both parties. The only thing "encouraging" the Democrats does is to increase the (probably small) likelihood of giving them filibuster-breaking and veto-overriding majorities.

After all, many of Bush's infamous-to-conservatives big-government votes were done (imo) because he saw there was no way to avoid the outcome and he might as well get his credit for "giving" something to the people. You really think this will drastically change with Democrat majorities? Especially if the measure was voted for by the heir apparent (McCain)?

Actually, that is the fundamental question to this conversation: do you really think the Dems will be any better on spending than Republicans? The PayGo of the 90's was not Democratic wisdom, it was Democrats simply moving to the middle to try and avoid people switching to the Repubs. Yes, they managed to get surpluses - but this was in the middle of one of the biggest technological productivity advances of the 20th century, coupled with the upside of the JIT inventory system and overseas production, the end results of the "depression" that was the legacy of Bush1.

Seriously, does any rational person expect the same results of a Democratic government under our current economic conditions? Or think that either the Dems or the Repubs frankly had anything to do with 90s boom?

It's like you saw one of those cute "Cthulu for President - Why choose the lesser evil?" bumper stickers and thought it wasn't a joke.
9.18.2006 12:10pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
The mid-term elections are not a referendum or an occasion for punishment. THEY ARE A CHOICE BETWEEN TWO CANDIDATES AND TWO PARTIES. The concept of punishing the Republicans for their wayward behavior by giving control of the House to Democrats lacks any seriousness.


Agreed, the entire argument is lacking in any serious thought or basis in reality. The fact of the matter is that from the perspective of a conservative, of the two houses of Congress, the House of Representatives has the better (or least awful) of the two. Generally when the two Houses meet in conference committee to reconcile a spending proposal, the House has been proposing lesser levels of spending. In addition on a number of issues such as immigration reform, tort reform, entitlement reform, and health care reform, legislation favored by conservatives has either been passed by the House or is though more likely to pass while it's still bottled up in Senate committees.

Also there is no evidentiary support for the theory that Bush would be more likely to veto legislation if it came from a Democratic House or that Republicans would refuse to work with Democrats. If anything the lesson of the last six years ought to be that after the 1995 government shut down (and subsequent Republican electoral losses) the GOP is very concerned about being the "do-nothing" party and being punished by the voters. If you want to look at when the domestic agenda moved to the left on spending, it happened right when Democrats took control of the Senate in 2001. Prior to that non-defense discretionary spending was increasing at or below the rate of inflation. When Democrats took control of the Senate, rather than battle them, the White House worked with Kennedy on education and worked with Harkin on a farm bill. Even after Republicans narrowly regained control of the Senate, Democrats retained enough votes to threaten a filibuster which lead to the bidding up of Medicare Part D from about $300 Billion to $750 Billion (look at the versions which passed the House and they were generally much smaller and more willing to include things like means testing).

If Democrats gain control of the House, worthless investigations into the latest scandal de jour aren't what conservatives need to worry about. They ought to worry about a Democratic House passing an amnesty bill like the one in the Senate. They ought to worry about another two years going by without any significant reform in Medicare and Social Security (which means about another $600 billion to fix the problem). They ought to worry about tort reform dying in committee while campaign finance "reform" (McCain-Feingold II anyone?), calls for "windfall profits" taxes, price controls on pharmaceuticals (either imposed by the government or imported from Canada), hikes in the minimum wage, anti-Wal-Mart legislation, and a whole host of other popular sounding but bad public policy proposals are passed in the House and possibly in the Senate.
9.18.2006 12:31pm
NickM (mail) (www):
There are 2 incoming Committee Chairs in a 2007 democrat House that should worry even many Democrats - Alcee Hastings (assuming Pelosi doesn't reverse course and allow Jane Harman a waiver to remain on the Intelligence Committee) and John Conyers. There is a reason Hastings was overwhelmingly impeached from his federal judgeship - he's corrupt to the core (he took a $150,000 bribe on the bench to affect the outcome of a case). Conyers, meanwhile, has played footsie for years with dangerous fringe groups, including a decade-plus relationship with the LaRouchies (he chose LaRouche-affiliated people as half the witnesses for one committee hearing he chaired, and he even spoke at a LaRouche organization meeting - after this became public, he claimed no knowledge of what LaRouche stood for). The one common thread among Conyers' curious friends (from Ramsey Clark to the LaRouchies) is a hatred of Israel.

Nick
9.18.2006 3:36pm
CWuestefeld (mail) (www):
PubliusFL writes in this response
But when the Senate and White House are both more liberal than the House with respect to these things, making the House more liberal too will result in less gridlock, not more.
You're assuming that either party has some ideology that it's working toward. I suggest (e.g., here) that the motivator isn't any ideology, but instead:
1. jockeying for power, by making noises that seem to espouse or condemn a particular position (without regard to the actual outcome, even when it's perverse); and
2. attempting to appear to be on different sides of issues, when in fact both parties differ only in degree.

Especially considering #2, it can't be seen that DEM and GOP are working together; one must be in opposition. I submit that the need to be seen opposing Democrats might in itself force the GOP to behave more conservatively.
9.18.2006 6:14pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Nick:

Hastings behavior as a rep also looks somewhat corrupt. Moreover Hastings is against surveillance. He is both morally and politically unsuited to be chairman. He really shouldn't even be in Congress in the first place. He's a member of the very body that impeached him.
9.18.2006 6:44pm
Ted Frank (www):
This riskprof post should put fear in the notion that losses will make the Republicans move back to the right: Katherine Harris is attacking Bob Nelson from the left for not regulating the Florida insurance industry enough, when in fact his over-regulation is what has put Florida homeowners in the state they're in today.
9.18.2006 7:28pm