Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What These Off-Elections Mean

Fact: many elections presently are resulting in upsets.

Interpretation: Some call it an "anti-incumbent" mood. Jay Cost of RealClearPolitics calls it an "anti-establishment" mood. And the problem for Democrats is that currently the establishment is theirs.

We think that's about right as a measure of what's up. It's not incumbents per se that rile people; it's business as usual. This hypothesis has the virtue of specificity and demonstrates enormous explanatory power, accounting for more electoral results than mere anti-incumbency.

We long for the day when the mood will be "anti-stupidity," but that isn't coming to a Republic near us any time soon.

In the meantime, we hope that those who run with a pledge to do things differently will do them differently in a reasonably smart way. That means leaving alone what works. That means relying on historical and empirical observation at least as much as ideology. That also means doing things that matter, not just things that look good. That also means not staking out politically impossible goals to which they can cling for decades as they are re-elected by quixotic, naive, isolated constituencies (yes, we are referencing the perversity of Paulism again, with its paleolithic rants about balanced-budget amendments and the gold standard and isolationism).


Anonymous said...

I don't think Sen Jim DeMint will be voted out anytime soon. He is an incumbent, but he isn't establishment.

The Republican party has suffered shuffling in the balance of power numerous times (within its coalition) in recent decades. Sometimes the social conservatives get the upper hand. Sometimes the limited government conservatives get the upper hand (Ross Perot and Tea Partiers now). But it always seems to revert back to the Eisenhower style "wise men," who claim to be pragmatists above all else, but usually are big government conservatives.

KevinAK said...

Let's hope the anti-establishment sentiment send John McCain packing.

The people of KY are not naive for voting for Rand Paul. They are simply tired of the self promoting consevatives in name only.