Just a few observations from the past couple of days:
1) Where is Howard Dean?
I haven't been glued to my television lately, but I didn't see much of the DNC Chairman in the Democrats' post-election celebrations.
2) Some politics is very local
I was surprised by the Democrats' gains in the state governments. For example, in my home state of New Hampshire, the Democrats gained control of both chambers of the legislature, in addition to the two Congressional seats. Other states experienced similar shifts. This may have large ramifications in the years to come, as the state legislatures are the training ground for many candidates to federal office and play an often partisan role in redistricting.
3) Being on the winning team
During the Presidential primaries, I absolutely hate to hear phrases like, "we should vote for this candidate because he is 'electable,'" as if what other people think should change the way we vote. That's a recipe for herd behavior and a very fragile outcome. The whole point of an election is to aggregate individual preferences. Not revealing your own preference defeats the purpose.
But, from a purely self-interested point of view, I think that the prospect of Democratic majorities in Congress does lead people to want to vote for Democrats in their own districts. Consider New Hampshire: if the voters had stuck with Bass and Bradley rather than Hodes and Shea-Porter, we would have two representatives in the minority rather than the majority. Given the advantages (through committee assignments and leadership, primarily) conferred on the majority party, there is some logic to "going with the herd" here.
4) Intra-party battles
Via Powerline, I am directed to Tony Blankley's column about how the various factions within each party will now do battle and to this "Dear Colleague" letter by Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, offering himself as the new minority leader. Here's the key excerpt:
I am running for Republican leader, because I believe that we did not just lose our Majority-we lost our way. We are in the wilderness because we walked away from the limited government principles that minted the Republican Congress. But there is a way out. "The way out of the wilderness," author Mark Helprin wrote, "is the truth; recognizing it, stating it, defending it, living by it." Here is the truth as I see it.
After 1994, we were a Majority committed to a balanced federal budget, entitlement reform and the principles of a limited federal government. We delivered on balanced federal budgets, welfare reform and responded to a national emergency with defense spending, homeland security and tax cuts that put our economy back on its feet.
However, in recent years, to the chagrin of millions of Republicans, our Majority also voted to expand the federal government's role in education by nearly 100% and created the largest new entitlement in 40 years. We also pursued domestic spending policies that created record deficits, national debt and earmark spending that has embarrassed us and caused many Americans to question our commitment to fiscal responsibility.
This was not in the Contract with America.
Our opponents will say that the American people rejected our Republican vision. I say the American people did not quit on the Contract with America, we did. In so doing, we severed the bonds of trust between our party and millions of our most ardent supporters.
For a Republican, it's hard to argue with that.