It is understandable that those who think President Bush has done a poor job want to replace him with a Democrat they think might do a better one. What is not understandable is why voters, who think Congress has performed poorly, would vote to keep the Democratic majority in place and, according to many polls, expand it.
The latest Rasmussen tracking poll finds that a pathetic 9 percent of the public think Congress is doing a good or excellent job. A majority of voters – 52 percent – think Congress is doing a poor job.
Given these astounding figures, why do polls show that a majority of voters intend to vote for the Democratic candidate in House and Senate races? In a recent McLaughlin and Associates poll, 43 percent said they would vote for the Democrat and just 34 percent would vote for the Republican. Twenty-three percent were unsure.
Incompetents kept on payroll
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How can this be? If a contractor working on your house fails to do the job and overcharges you in the process, does it make sense to keep paying the same company while it adds additional incompetents and crooks to cause further damage?
The reason Republicans don't benefit from voter disaffection with Congress is that Republican incompetence – ranging from sexual indiscretions to illegal activities – remains fresh in their minds.
Republicans promised they would do things differently. They'd bring “change” to Washington (always be careful when you hear politicians talking like that). Instead, Republicans caught the same Potomac fever that infected the Democrats who ran the House for 40 years prior to 1994 and the Senate, off and on, for much of that period.
If Republicans are going to take advantage of voter disgust with the Democratic Congress they are going to have to take the equivalent of a blood oath. A new “Contract with America” won't suffice. Neither will a “we've learned our lesson” from the current Republican “leadership” who are part of the problem that brought on the Democratic resurgence.
What should GOP do?
For a GOP comeback to have a chance, several things must happen.
First, John McCain must take a page from Harry Truman's 1948 campaign in which he lambasted the Republican “do-nothing Congress.” McCain should say what a do- something Democratic Congress would do if it retains its current majority and gains a Democratic president: raise taxes, boost regulations, further limit our liberties, haggle with terrorists and advance a social agenda (including unrestricted abortion and same-sex marriage) that is anathema to most Americans.
Second, Republican delegates to the convention should demand their party's congressional leadership be replaced by Republicans who would renew core party principles: low taxes, smaller, less expensive and more effective government, personal responsibility and accountability, encouragement of individual initiative and programs that help people out of poverty rather than sustaining them in poverty.
Third, GOP members should pledge to get themselves out of Congress after no more than four terms in the House and two in the Senate. They also should begin a discussion and debate about the proper role of the federal government.
Only dramatic and believable actions like these will restore public confidence in Congress and possibly restore Republicans to a majority they will only then deserve.