Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Upended

How frustrated are Republicans and Democrats that they cheerfully voted to upend the status quo in Des Moines? From the trouncing that Dusky Terry took from Denise O’Brien, he was the funded and Governor sanctioned candidate after all, to the formal and implied endorsements (a sign of the anti-Des Moines sentiments) that netted Blouin a weak second place and toss in the incumbent routes on the GOP side, it’s clear that Iowa voters have had it with the Democrat/Republican back and forth of the Vilsack years.

The outcome of this primary could have been anticipated if the Pennsylvania incumbent implosion from three weeks ago had been seriously examined by the campaigns. What makes anyone think that Iowa rank & file voters are unique? Pat Tommey writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer runs through the lessons of Pennsylvania’s Republican primary.

…The main reason so many Republican incumbents lost to little-known primary challengers was the accumulated frustration of the rank and file with elected Republicans who had abandoned their party's principles - especially the principle of limited government. This is a huge problem for Republicans holding federal office, too. …

… Frustrated Republican voters, fed up with big-government Republican incumbents and seeing credible challengers supported by conservative institutions, made sweeping changes.

The danger for GOP majorities across the country this fall is that Republican voters may still be frustrated with their incumbents. In the fall, they won't have primary challengers through which to vent their frustration. But they can stay home. Republican officeholders have very little time left to demonstrate to these voters that it's still worth coming out to vote.

In some ways, it looks like Des Moines Republicans assumed that they were immune from the nationwide incumbent hangover. But voters understand that Republicans don't represent Iowa when they squander hard won majorities by drifting away from core fiscal principles through the granting of funds and favor to powerful interests. Limited Government is limited government no matter what the lobby and community boosters might want to sell under that Blue Sky Dome.

I think it’s fixable, but it requires soul searching. Both parties will have the opportunity to hear from the rank & file activists at the upcoming state conventions, perhaps some leaders will take the time to listen.

It’s over for now. I’m glad for that; candidates are probably relieved as well.

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For what it’s worth -- A fine post-mortem & a movie recommendation that might inspire a little thoughtful perspective.

(A late post due to blogger tech problems.)


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