No Final Victories, No Final Defeats
The Republican party had a very good election last night, and the Democrats had a very bad election. The Republicans took control of the House and have gained approximately 60 seats with around 13 still to be decided. The House will be more pro-life than at any time in our nation’s history since Roe v. Wade in 1973. In the Senate the Republicans have gained approximately 6 seats with around 3 still to be decided. The Republicans have gained at least seven governorships with a few to be decided, and at least 17 state legislative chambers have flipped to the GOP. By any standards it was a great night for the GOP, and a vote of no confidence in both the Obama administration and the Democrat Congress. It would be tempting to predict only triumph now for the Republicans and only doom for the Democrats in the future, but it is a temptation to be resisted.
After the 2008 elections many on the Left, giddy with victory, predicted that in future the Republican party would be only a rump party of the South, doomed to wander in the political wilderness for 40 years. Typical of this commentary was a piece written by frequent commenter Morning’s Minion:
For look at what the Republican party has become in recent years: a rump party of the south and the plains, mired in an anachronistic culture that has little resonance with the modern world and with the younger generation.
Of course this commentary betrayed a fundamental misunderstanding of American political history. In that history there are no final victories and no final defeats. The great issue in contention since the days of the Federalists and the Republicans, the role of government in the lives of a free people, has remained with us no matter what names the two parties call themselves. When a party dies, the Whig party for instance, a new party steps forward to carry on the fight. The parties themselves shift and change, but the large issues involved tend, at bottom, to remain the same. Kipling wrote long ago:
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
That is sound advice in American politics, no matter if an election is good for your party or bad for your party.