Why Conservatives Shouldn’t Hope for a Blue Wave in November

Voting Booth. Image by Lenny Ghoul.

As communities in the United States begin the long rebuilding process following Hurricane Michael, there’s been a lot of talk lately about another wave heading our way, and that is the 2018 midterm elections.

Forecasts typically focus on whether the governing party can maintain control of both houses of Congress through the midterm cycle, or if there will instead be a referendum on the majority party and its de facto leader in the White House. Politicos, pundits, and pollsters (oh, my) have debated the issue into the ground, and with the elections reaching peak intensity in the weeks ahead, the speculation won’t be going away anytime soon.

Though the exact results might be questionable at the moment, what is beyond doubt is that the storm facing the GOP will be a tough one. In post-WW2 America, the party of the current President has lost an average of 25 seats during midterm elections. Only twice in that time have sitting Presidents seen their parties gain seats – Clinton in 1998 and Bush in 2002. When Presidents enter midterms with an approval rating at less than 50 percent, those averages look even more dire:

In Gallup’s polling history, presidents with job approval ratings below 50% have seen their party lose 37 House seats, on average, in midterm elections. That compares with an average loss of 14 seats when presidents had approval ratings above 50%.

Gallup News

So even though Republicans must defend only a relatively small amount of seats in November, there still remains a path, however narrow it may be, for the Democrats to chip away at their majority or even wrestle it away from them in one or even both Houses altogether. Turnout will be the deciding factor.

Now, as a pro-life, Constitutional conservative Christian, what am I to make of this situation? Aside from some decent judges, some deregulation, and a moderate tax cut, Republicans haven’t really given me much to be enthusiastic about. And they have betrayed me on pretty much every single other issue I care about, be it spending, healthcare, gun control, trade, foreign policy, or just plain decency.

So should I support the GOP anyway in the hopes that they weather the storm and manage to put together a conservative coalition in the aftermath?

Or should I cross my fingers for a sweeping “blue wave” of Democrat victories to crush the Republican majorities and destroy their influence forever, as wergild for the abandoned values they claimed to represent? Does it even make sense to support a party actively promoting the same principles that the other party must be punished for embracing?

Some conservatives will answer “yes” to these last two questions. And many of them have good reasons. They aren’t haters, they aren’t deranged, and they aren’t (gasp) liberals. But I do think they’re misguided.

There are numerous reasonable arguments I might use to support such a claim. Democrats will most certainly enact an agenda antithetical to everything conservatives believe in. Republicans might be terrible/liberal/useless, but Democrats are worse.  Democrats will stack the courts with anti-Constitutional judges who will ensure that rights are further eroded. The abortion fight will be lost indefinitely. The list goes on, with varying degrees of rationality and merit.

However, as legitimate as some of those reasons might or might not be, they are not why I reached the conclusion that I did.

The simple fact is that there are short-term advantages and disadvantages to either outcome. Sure, a GOP victory might promote some solid policy decisions, but might not a Democrat victory also prevent a number of dangerous ones? Democrats being elected would revitalize the pro-choice agenda, for example, but one could easily argue that a political curbstomping might wake the Republicans up and inspire them to actually halt that agenda instead of funding of Planned Parenthood from one spending bill to the next.

But there is one long-term disadvantage to Democrats winning that, in my mind, far outweighs whatever advantages a castrated Republican party might offer – a disadvantage for which most everyone who visits this website has had a front row seat for two years now. That disadvantage is the perpetuation of binary-ism.

Let’s look at context for a minute. The 2016 elections didn’t happen in a vacuum. In a way, that election was the culmination of the rejection of the Democratic Party’s ascension following the 2006 midterms. That ascension came about when Democrats took power from the Republicans, who had enjoyed preeminence since hanging chads sank Al Gore’s presidential hopes in the 2000 election. Before that, the Republicans had assumed prominence in the early 2000s after a Democrat wave in the late 1990s, which in turn was a response to the Republican Revolution in the mid-1990s. And before that, Clinton had used the recession of the early 1990s to catapult himself to victory over incumbent Republican President George H. W. Bush. Notice a pattern here? Democrats get elected, screw things up, then Republicans get elected to fix things. Then Republicans screw things up, Democrats are elected to fix things, and the cycle goes on.

Time after time, Republicans have been swept from office by Democratic swells, and time after time they have brandished their lofty promises and blustered their way again to victory. The only thing more consistent than this alternating red and blue pattern is the obstinancy of the Republicans to embrace the principles that sent them skyward to begin with. Yet conservatives continually vote for them anyway.

So why should 2018 and beyond be any different? Say the Democrats exceed expectations and oust Republicans from both Houses of Congress in November. They might even roll back Trump’s tariffs and find their way carried through 2020 by the resulting prolonged economic performance. January 2021 gets here and we have a Democratic President and Congress. Then what?

The pattern of events listed earlier should answer that question. The historical Republican wins after President Obama and a Democratic Congress in 2009 should answer that question. The people have spoken loud and clear over the last few decades, and their message has been unmistakable: they love their game of political good cop, bad cop, and don’t you dare lay a finger on it, thank you very much.

Now, one might make the case that Americans have grown tired of this perverse political ping pong and are ready for a new, more ideological third party, as the wild success of political “outsiders” in 2016 can attest. But we’ve danced this dance before. Ross Perot was a popular outsider candidate in 1992, as was Pat Buchanan in 2000, to a lesser extent. But neither one of them heralded the birth of a new conservative party (and I mean “conservative” in its loosest sense). Also, 2016’s outsiders have lost much of their influence in the intervening years, as Bernie Sanders’ endorsees lose races one after another and as Ted Cruz has struggled to stay ahead of Beto O’Rourke in his bid for re-election. The one exception is of course President Trump himself, but since his nomination, he has become very establishmentarian in terms of policy. There is little indication of any momentum on behalf of any of these candidates for the creation of any third party, conservative or otherwise.

Looking at past and present politics, I see no conceivable reason to believe that a 2018 GOP shellacking would do the country any favors beyond simple catharsis. And voting cathartically is how we wound up with Trump to begin with.

So when it comes time to vote in November, I cannot in good conscience support either of these two detestable political parties, nor can I recommend you cast your hard-earned ballot for them. Instead, my advice would be, just as it was in 2016, to vote according to principle and only according to principle. If no candidate fits those principles, The News Blender has put forward a compelling case for not voting for any of them.

Personally, I will most likely be voting Libertarian in one race and Democratic in another. And who knows, I might even vote Republican in one of them. Nothing much is certain anymore.

But what is certain is that political parties will not save us; only a return to our country’s founding values will. In the end, how you think that goal might be attained best will be for you to decide.

About the opinions in this article…

Any opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this website or of the other authors/contributors who write for it.

About TheStig 50 Articles
Likes going in circles but never getting anywhere. So basically politics.