James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

The aftermath of NY-23

November 4, 2009

Jon Henke applies his own analysis to the NY-23 race:

The story of NY-23 is not “conservatives beat moderates” or “conservative loses to Democrat”.

The story of NY-23 is “the Right starts dismantling the Republican establishment.” This is about how the Republican Party is defined and who defines it.

Right now, the movement wants the Republican Party to be defined by opposition to big government. Gradually, as new leaders arise, we will demand that the Republican Party be defined by its own solutions, as well, but rebuilding is an incremental process. We can hammer out the policy agenda and the boundaries of the coalition later.

For now, our job is to disrupt the establishment GOP.  If we beat Democrats while we’re at it, great. But the first priority is to fix the Drunk Party – the Living Dead establishment Republicans. They’re history. They just don’t know it yet.

NY-23 was the first shot in that war.  It was a direct hit.  Next year, we start storming the castle.

Me: Next up, Rubio vs. Crist and DeVore vs. Fiorina.

Comments

He’s right and he’s wrong. Political parties are at their core coalitions. In years gone by the old joke was where is the only place you will find a labor leader, a university professor, a black minister, a gay man, and a Jew together? The Democratic convention. Where is the only place you will find a Wall St exec, an evangelical preacher, a rancher, a Cuban and a military man together? The Republican convention.

Over previous decades Democrats lost the South and had union members decline. Their coalition fell apart and Republicans dominated. Now Republicans have lost the Northeast, and are slowly losing suburbs and the desert Southwest. Their coalition is over. The leadership is in denial, trying to hold it together just a little longer. The far right is also in denial, figuring if they were just a little louder, they could rule the country alone.

Most likely as Democrats find common cause with college-educated professionals who might have voted with Republicans in the past, the Republicans need to fine new allies. Small government, free-market isn’t going to do it. Look at which constituency is most upset about Wall St bailouts, most skeptical about health plans, and most prone to hate illegal immigrants and you will find union workers. It will be a strange new coalition but that is where Republicans will find the next allies. Mike Huckabee made some waves amongst those folks. Now, when Republicans go looking for new allies, they will get trounced for years before they find quite enough, just like Democrats did in the last 30 years. However, until they start looking they will be an ever shrinking minority regardless of which side wins these little parochial battles.

Posted by Scola | Report as abusive
 

I’m still waiting for the big shake up when someone realizes that being against Big Government means they’re against laws tell people they can’t use drugs or have abortions.

 

Republicans had to choose between a liberal Republican and a very conservative candidate – most moderate Republicans were unhappy with both choices. Perhaps that’s why the Democrat won this three-way race.

Posted by Camron Barth | Report as abusive
 

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