Republicans Take Two Governor’s Races in What Seems a Reaction to Too Much Change

With Republican victories tonight in the two Gubernatorial elections that took place earlier this first Tuesday in November, pundits have been speculating that Virginia and New Jersey voters are handing down a referendum on Barack Obama’s presidency.

I’m not sure if that is the case or if New Jersey and Virginia voters are simply spooked about the economy, or to what extent those two possibilities overlap. But as reporter and analyst Philip Klein pointed out tonight on the American Spectator’s site, traditionally, New Jersey is democratic. The state has not gone Republican in a Presidential election since 1988, and has not had a Republican governor since 1997. Significantly, Obama has made numerous recent visits there to campaign for the democratic incumbent, John Corzine, to no avail. So this election of Republican McDonnell is an upset.

Earlier tonight, Charles Krauthammer, appearing on FOX News, made the point that the 2008 election of Barack Obama reflected a synthesis of many unique factors (which, it should be acknowledged, is true of many developments). These factors included terrible economic woes combined with heavy disillusionment with George Bush and the Republicans, weariness of dealing with two wars, etc.  Of course, President Obama’s exceptional charisma, talent, and brains factored in, along with the excitement he effectively catalyzed as our potential first black President. There was understandable energy on the part of the Left, and also a seemingly contagious, heady delirium to see him in the White House on the part of people who knew little of his policy proposals, and were in many cases not aware that he held the most leftist voting record in the U.S. Senate and had never passed a piece of legislation in cooperation with a Republican (To be fair to the average voter, the Obama campaign did its best to promote, via slogans and Mr. Obama’s speeches, an image of moderation, inclination towards bridge-building and compromise, etc.) So perhaps in the minds of many voters, Mr. Obama was a moderate Democrat and a bridge builder of the sort that, say, Newark Mayor Cory Booker is, despite a lack of evidence to support this idea.

Fast-forward a year, and many people who voted for Mr. Obama are walking around surprised by his Administration’s outsize spending, and his insistence on pushing ahead with a complete overhaul of the U.S. health care system, despite the likelihood that such a drastic change will compromise our country’s position as the leader in life-saving technologies and provisions, including for older Americans. But why is anyone surprised? Like him or not, Barack Obama is no moderate.

Maybe some of the change Mr. Obama brings to our country is healthy and wonderful. But when it comes to issues as vast and complex as geopolitics and health care, it only stands to reason that too much sudden, overwhelming change is unwise. The reason? If one has any faith at all in the U.S. system of government, one tends to recognize that long-standing, well-established policies, such as, say, policies on missile defense, or on the existence of a health care safety net – exist for a set of reasons that are not frivolous. That tends to be true whether the policies are liberal or conservative, because they are the result of much research, argumentation and ultimately, compromise. Our system, democracy, depends on horse-trading. As Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.” 

Is it possible that New Jersey and Virginia voters cast their ballots today for moderation, for caution?  Too much change, undertaken too quickly and without firm grasp of the issues and potential ramifications of such drastic change, could be detrimental to the country’s strength and cohesion. Is it possible that a solid majority of Americans are not fully on board with a total revamp of our health care system, for instance? Or for a drastic change in our foreign policy towards attempts at cooperation with, and parity with, Muslim leaders, including those who have no intention of working with us?  

When fundamentally altering our economic system or changing our foreign policy, caution is in order.     

This entry was written by and posted on November 4, 2009 at 1:49 am and filed under Blog.

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