For the moment, the Democrats are expected to win control of one or both houses of Congress in the congressional election this fall. That may have two strongly beneficial effects on the Republican Party:
- More congressional Republicans will rediscover their commitment to fiscal responsibility when most of the proposals for increased spending originate in a house of Congress controlled by the Democrats. For the past five years, in contrast, congressional Republicans approved almost all proposals for increased spending by the Republican president or their party colleagues.
- More social conservatives will rediscover their commitment to federalism in order to protect the authority to address value issues by state governments when it becomes clear that there is no political opportunity for federal decisions on these issues. With the first unified Republican federal government in 50 years, in contrast, social conservatives have been motivated to propose federal political decisions on these issues for which there is no national consensus.
The combination of a long unnecessary war, the fiscal excesses disguised as compassionate conservatism, and an intolerant social agenda has almost destroyed the traditional Republican political coalition, leaving many of us without any enthusiasm for the candidates and policies of either party. The first step to restoring the Republican Party, ironically, may be a Democratic victory in the congressional election this fall.
Several years in the political wilderness may do much to clear the mind.