October 29, 2010
The polls and pundits are all in alignment now.
The Republican Party is headed for a victory Tuesday to rival the biggest and best of those that the party has known in the lifetime of most Americans.
In 1938, the GOP won 72 seats in the House.
In 1946, Republicans swept both houses and presented Harry Truman with a “fighting 80th Congress” that contained three future presidents: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.
In 1966, Republicans picked up 47 House seats to set up the comeback of Nixon, who had led the party out of the wilderness of Goldwater’s defeat.
In 1994, the Republican Revolution added 52 House seats and captured both chambers for the first time since Eisenhower’s first term.
Looking back on those Republican triumphs, and forward to Tuesday’s, what do these Republican off-year victories have in common?
In all four—1938, 1946, 1966 and 1994—the GOP won not because of what the party had accomplished or the hopes it had raised, but because Republicans were the only alternative on the ballot to a Democratic Party and a president voters wished to punish.
By 1938, America had had its fill of FDR, as the Depression returned with a vengeance and his aristocratic arrogance became manifest in the crude attempt to purge Democratic senators and pack the Supreme Court with six new justices who’d rubber-stamp his New Deal.
In 1946, Truman was perceived to have been as naive as FDR in trusting “good old Joe” Stalin, who was imposing his murderous Bolshevik rule on 100 million Eastern Europeans and whose Maoist allies were waging war on America’s ally in China. What our boys won on the battlefield, our diplomats have frittered away, the country believed.
In 1966, the nation was reacting viscerally to the stalemate in Vietnam, rising casualties, campus disorders, soaring crime, and riots in Harlem and Watts, all seen as the legacy of LBJ’s Great Society.
In 1994, it was gays in the military, Hillarycare and the public perception that Bill Clinton was more liberal than he had let on that cost Democrats both houses. The post-election spin that the nation had rallied to Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” was pure propaganda.
Tuesday’s election, too, will be no embrace of the GOP, but rather a repudiation of what Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have come to represent. All are seen as power-hungry politicians of an out-of-touch regime that is seizing control of private wealth and private lives as it fails in its duty to win our wars, balance our budgets and secure our borders.