Charles Krauthammer has angered some of us lately, but he still has a brilliant mind and maybe, just maybe, we should listen more closely. Today he is good. From the Washington Post:
A return to the Norm
For all the turmoil, the spectacle, the churning – for all the old bulls slain and fuzzy-cheeked freshmen born – the great Republican wave of 2010 is simply a return to the norm. The tide had gone out; the tide came back. A center-right country restores the normal congressional map: a sea of interior red, bordered by blue coasts and dotted by blue islands of ethnic/urban density.
The conventional wisdom is that these sweeps represent something novel, exotic and very modern – the new media, faster news cycles, Internet frenzy and a public with a short attention span and even less patience with government. Or alternatively, that these violent swings reflect reduced party loyalty and more independent voters.
Nonsense. In 1946, for example, when party loyalty was much stronger and even television was largely unknown, the Republicans gained 56 seats and then lost 75 in the very next election. Waves come. Waves go. The republic endures.
Our two most recent swing cycles were triggered by unusually jarring historical events. The 2006 Republican “thumpin'” (to quote George W. Bush) was largely a reflection of the disillusionment and near-despair of a wearying war that appeared to be lost. And 2008 occurred just weeks after the worst financial collapse in eight decades.
Similarly, the massive Republican swing of 2010 was a reaction to another rather unprecedented development – a ruling party spectacularly misjudging its mandate and taking an unwilling country through a two-year experiment in hyper-liberalism.
Nor should Republicans overinterpret their Tuesday mandate. They received none. They were merely rewarded for acting as the people’s proxy in saying no to Obama’s overreaching liberalism. As one wag put it, this wasn’t an election so much as a restraining order.
The Republicans won by default. And their prize is nothing more than a two-year lease on the House. The building was available because the previous occupant had been evicted for arrogant misbehavior and, by rule, alas, the House cannot be left vacant.