Published public opinion polls are starting to reflect the possibility of a GOP sweep in the election contest this fall. There is now the distinct possibility the Republican Party will once again control the White House, Senate and House of Representatives at the same time. That power base would be coupled with a majority of state houses and governors already in GOP hands, as well as a working majority on the Supreme Court.
That would be a pretty awful legacy for Barack Obama, but the GOP needs to think long and hard about its own legacy. While it feels like eons, it was not so long ago that the Republicans were the majority elected party in this country, with all the power levers in their hands. And it is not clear to me that the GOP has spent much time reflecting on those years, especially as the Obama regime came fast and furious on their heels and consumed everyone’s political passions.
Starting in 2002 when the GOP captured the U.S. Senate on the heels of the Bush victory in 2000, the GOP embarked on a series of policy initiatives that cost the party control of the Congress in 2006, and the presidency in 2008. Those policies included big expansions in the welfare state funded by deficit spending, negative real interest rates and a weak dollar exchange rate, coupled with a pre-emptive war in Iraq that had no clearly thought out plan for going in, or getting out. They culminated in the crash of 2008 that left a smoking hole in the private sector, and opened the door to the federal government’s growth to 25% of Gross Domestic Product.
While many good reforms were passed in the Bush years, like school vouchers and health savings accounts, most of them were repealed by the Democratic restoration of 2006-2010. So it might be a good time for the GOP leadership and rank and file to reconsider its experiment from 10 years ago with big government, soft money, and aggressive wars, and whether some alternatives to those policies are in order.
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