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Conservatives for Nancy Pelosi:

The liberal Washington Monthly, has put together a symposium of articles by prominent conservative (and two libertarian) commentators who argue that both the country and the conservative movement will be better off with a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives this November. More surprisingly, National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg is flirting with endorsing the same conclusion.

I agree with many of the arguments, particularly those made by Bruce Fein and Bruce Bartlett. To my mind, the two most important considerations are that 1) the GOP must suffer some electoral punishment for its big spending, big government ways of the last five years, and for the mishandling of Iraq's reconstruction, and 2) divided government may help check some of the worst impulses of both parties (as many of the Washington Monthly contributors argue). The latter point is well put by former GOP Congressman Joe Scarborough in his Washington Monthly piece:

During the 1990s, conservative Republicans and the Clinton White House somehow managed to balance the budget while winning two wars, reforming welfare, and conducting an awesome impeachment trial focused on oral sex and a stained Gap dress.

The fact that both parties hated each another was healthy for our republic's bottom line. A Democratic president who hates a Republican appropriations chairman is less likely to sign off on funding for the Midland Maggot Festival being held in the chairman's home district. Soon, budget negotiations become nasty, brutish, and short and devolve into the legislative equivalent of Detroit, where only the strong survive.

But in Bush's Washington, the capital is a much clubbier place where everyone in the White House knows someone on the Hill who worked with the Old Man, summered in Maine, or pledged DKE at Yale. The result? Chummy relationships, no vetoes, and record-breaking debts.

With a Democratic House and GOP Senate (the likely result of this fall's election), the Republicans will get a well-deserved spanking, while the Democrats will be unable to enact the more dangerous parts of their own agenda. Also, a Democratic House would not be able to block Bush's judicial appointments, to my mind a rare bright spot in this administration.

Steve Bainbridge writes that the "Republicans deserve to lose, but the Democrats don't deserve to win." I agree completely. And a Democratic takeover of the House coupled with continued GOP control of the Senate and White House is a good way to inflict a defeat on the Republicans without giving the Democrats a complete victory.

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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:
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