Historic Showing by Republicans
Jim Heim, Moore County Democratic chairman, sounded surprisingly upbeat and defiant Tuesday night for someone who had just seen his party’s clock cleaned both locally and nationally.
“They don’t have a plan,” Heim said of the Republican victors and their tea party allies. “What are they going to do? I guess we will find out tomorrow.”
For now, they will be celebrating. And deservedly so. This time around, the Republican Party, reinforced and energized by that potent tea party component, managed to capture the national spirit of profound economic discontent and go running with it across the finish line, leaving a great many puzzled and disheartened Democrats choking on heel dust.
You can’t argue with that kind of success — even if you can wonder, along with Heim, what the GOP will now do with its newfound power once the thrill of victory is over, other than creating more deadlock in Washington at a time when the nation faces major challenges that cry out for bipartisan cooperation.
Dramatic Setbacks for Demos
Anyway you cut it, the national results — including a decisive Republican takeover of the House of Representatives (Senate results were uncertain at our deadline time) — represent a historic setback for the Obama administration. Its legislative role may well be reduced largely to vetoing efforts to repeal or chip away at previous Democratic victories from health care reform on down.
Some have attempted to argue that these results could have the ironic effect of enhancing President Obama’s chances of gaining re-election two years from now by forcing him to govern from the middle. Something a bit similar happened to Bill Clinton. He had a disastrous first two years (including a failure of health care reform), but the subsequent Republican revolution forced him to forge more bipartisan cooperation — which helped produce six years of the greatest economic expansion this country has ever known.
At this point, though, any such comparison sounds more like trying too hard to see a silver lining in an otherwise black Democratic cloud.
‘A Failure to Listen’
In Raleigh, the Republicans have apparently gained control of the General Assembly for the first time in more than a century. In Moore County, where so many local contests are typically decided in the spring primary, it’s difficult to discern much of a pattern in Tuesday’s results, other than the usual clean Republican sweep.
The national anti-incumbent mood wasn’t much in evidence here. Though sitting school board members Sue Black and Pam Thompson lost in their nonpartisan races, U.S. Rep. Howard Coble and County Commissioner Jimmy Melton, both Republicans, easily sailed to re-election, and GOP Sen. Richard Burr carried Moore by a resounding 66 percent.
Here and elsewhere, the Democrats have clearly been set back on their heels and will need to ponder what lessons can be learned from the signal defeats they suffered on Tuesday. Moore County Republican Chairman Bob Levy blames what he called Obama’s failure to “listen to the people.” Perhaps the president and his administration, which may have attempted too much change too fast, will turn a more attentive ear now.
More like this story