Sunday, May 10, 2009

Show Some Backbone

I seldom agree with Fred Barnes on an issue 100%, but this is one of those times.

Many Republicans recoil from being combative adversaries of a popular president. They shouldn't. Opposing Obama across-the-board on his sweeping domestic initiatives makes sense on substance and politics. His policies--on spending, taxes, health care, energy, intervention in the economy, etc.--would change the country in ways most Americans don't believe in. That's the substance. And a year or 18 months from now, after those policies have been picked apart and exposed and possibly defeated, the political momentum is likely to have shifted away from Obama and Democrats.

This scenario has occurred time and again. Why do you think Democrats won the House and Senate in 2006 and bolstered their majorities in 2008? It wasn't because they were more thoughtful, offered compelling alternatives, or had improved their brand. They won because they opposed unpopular policies of President Bush and exploited Republican scandals in Congress. They were highly partisan and not very nice about it.

If Republicans scan their history, they'll discover unbridled opposition to bad Democratic policies pays off. Those two factors, unattractive policies plus strong opposition, were responsible for the Republican landslides in 1938, 1946, 1966, 1980, and 1994. A similar blowout may be beyond the reach of Republicans in 2010, but stranger things have happened in electoral politics. They'll lose nothing by trying.

Emphasis mine. Barnes is exactly right. Democrats won by contrasting themselves with their opponents, not by being a Me Too! party. Democrats found a way to excoriate a popular President and bringing down his numbers. Republicans need to get ahold of themselves, stop being tentitive and offer a bold, principled alternative. If they can't bring themselves to be combative, then they are in the wrong line of work and should stop wasting our time.