The Real Lessons of 1994

One person I have had the pleasure of befriending in recent months is Tom Del Beccaro, the Vice Chair of the California Republican Party.

His book “The New Conservative Paradigm” is as simple as it is accurate.

His most recent column at “Big Government” looks at the 1966 and 1994 elections to point out a trend that could prove ominous for Democrats in 2010.

While Tom has more experience with regards to policy than I do, I have been meaning for some time to use 1994 as a model for 2010.

Specifically, I believe the Democrats are completely misreading why they lost.

Some Republicans think I should keep quiet rather than help Democrats. This implies anybody at such a high level in the DNC is even reading my blog. Therefore, I think it is safe to proceed. Besides, they would not listen to me anyway. I am a conservative, which automatically makes me an imbecile in their eyes anyway.

Given that the Democratic Party is not my party, this is more musings rather than advice. Yet for those who truly do need to be hit upside the head with a bar towel to know they are in a bar, let’s put 1994 in proper context.

The Democrats that think that they lost the congress in 1994 because of their failure to pass health care reform are out of their minds.

Nobody loses congress because of failing to pass bills. Ever since Harry Truman ran againsta  do-nothing congress, that has been a tactic of presidential candidates, with little success. In 2006 the Democrats captured Congress. If anybody can name a single accomplishment belonging to the Pelosiraptor, I am all ears like Barack Obama. That congress did nothing, but still maintained their majorities. There is no consequence for inaction on domestic policy.

For one thing, a do nothing congress is redundant. These people are not exactly putting on hard hats and building homes. They read papers (or sometimes don’t read them), talk to people, make speeches, and occasionally listen. They are not governors. They are professional babblers. If they were any less talented they would be bloggers.

(Never mind. I meant pre-me of course.)

Failing to pass bills means nothing. It does not matter if the bill was the highest priority. High priorities change with events. One minute the Iraq War and other foreign policy issues dominate, and the next minute the obsession is domestic policy initiatives. Then if a Hollywood celebrity does something, congressional inaction is overlooked entirely.

Failing to pass a bill means that nothing has changed. Despite the fact that Americans occasionally vote for change, we are a cautious people by nature. We are evolutionary, not revolutionary. We like slow, incremental movements. That is why we elect presidents who promise bold leadership, and then elect congresses to stop them once we realize that what we really want is radical change provided it does not upset our comfy status quo.

Therefore, American Presidents and congresses do not get punished for failing to pass bills. They get punished for successfully passing bad bills.

Bill Clinton lost the congress because of two bills he rammed through. In his first year in office, he rammed through a tax hike with no Republican votes. He promised he would not raise taxes on anyone but the rich. He broke his word, raised taxes on the middle class, and earned their wrath.

The second year in office he passed a crime bill that contained an assault weapons ban and other gun control measures. States like West Virginia that had been voting for Democrats for decades went Republican in presidential elections after that.

Tax hikes and gun control brought down the Democrats. Failing to pass health care had nothing to do with it. The right was energized because bills they were hostile to were passed, and they felt their freedoms were threatened. The left may have been disappointed about health care, but that was no match for GOP anger.

Barack Obama will not get in trouble if the Democrats screw up health care reform again. If the bill passes, the Democrats will get slaughtered in 2010.

This does not mean leaders should be too timid to advance bills. That was the final six years of the Clinton presidency. All this does mean is that leaders should understand why events occur.

Barack Obama promised that he would radically transform our country. He was elected to fix the economy. Like many leaders, he is overreaching.

As for our leaders, they get in trouble when they defy the voters. The deeper the trouble, the more they blame the voters and then double down.

It does not matter who is right. The voters have the final say, and just like in 1994, the Democrats are still not listening.

They will be in November, but by then the only change in Washington will be the house speaker handing over the gavel.


9 Responses to “The Real Lessons of 1994”

  1. Micky 2 says:

    “If they were any less talented they would be bloggers.”

    Yeah well, if by chance you did run for office I’d place you as a top contendor. I’d love to see you in Hillary or Geithners seat.

    “If the bill passes, the Democrats will get slaughtered in 2010.”

    And they’ll all have their 73 virgins.
    Its almost suicidal to pass this bill when you look at the public sentiment.
    These morons actually think that in time we’ll come to appreciate it. Hardly the case if we have to pay into healthcare 4 years before we can even begin to use it, not to mention that I can almost gaurantee the price tag will get marked up considerably by that time also. By then conservatives will be on their way to dismantling it.

  2. Wait a minute…

    “Nobody loses congress because of failing to pass bills.”

    “Bill Clinton lost the congress because of two bills he rammed through.”


    Often, in sports, we hear analysts and commentators bring up past records when speaking of current games. They’ll say, “Well, this team hasn’t lost at home to an under-500 division rival in 24 games, and so…” And so nothing. It really doesn’t tell you anything. On any given Sunday anything can happen. That’s the only rule you have to know. The same goes for politics. You can’t say, “Well, in 1994… and so in 2010…” or “In 1980… and so in 2012…” It just isn’t relevent and has almost no value to any objectivec analysis. On any given Tuesday after the first Monday in November…

    There are some things we know to be true, however.

    First, the minority party always has it easy politically. They can promise all sorts of crazy things (flat tax, ending illegal immigration, universal healthcare, ending the church-state barrier, banning abortion, legalizing pot – it goes on and on and on – none of these things are going to happen). They can accuse the majority of all sorts of crazy things. They can be against anything and everything without ever having to propose a detailed alternative.

    As well, the minority party can always play the victim card. These tactics play well with disaffected schlubs and the active base, rousing them to vote in mid-term elections. Meanwhile, there is always disappointment with the coming of a new majority. They, when they were the minority, promised all sorts of crazy things too, but now that they’re the majority, they want to stay that way, and the only way to do that is to appease their special interest donors, who don’t want any bills to pass unless they involve tax cuts/deregulation/spending/tipping the paying field on their behalf. So the new majority can’t deliver on all those crazy promises. This turns their voters off, keeping them home on the mid-terms.

    This is why it is so common for presidents to lose congress in mid-term elections.

    But the GOP has a huge hurdle to overcome this year. The likelyhood of taking a majority in either chamber is miniscule. They will probably gain around thirty seats in the House and 4-6 seats in the Senate. Part of the reason for this is that so many GOP officials are retiring, many more than Democrats. Part of this is just the way the election map looks this year, regarding the Senate. Part of this is the way demographics have changed in some key House districts. And part of this is that the GOP so destroyed the nation that Americans just aren’t stupid enough to give them a majority back just yet.

    But keep telling yourselves to “run as conservatives” and that “bills have nothing to do with elections” if it makes you feel good. In reality, you’re only fooling yourselves. It doesn’t matter, though. Elections are what they are and you guys will win some seats back this year, so you can believe whatever you want and rationalize it however you like, but if you think the American people want to go back to the Bush years, you’re going to remain in the minority for a long, long, long time to come. Lord knows you’ve done it before. It will be the 40-year droiught for the GOP all over again. What you guys need is some new ideas, preferably one’s that aren’t just moral rationalizations for greediness.


  3. Dav Lev says:

    My state (California) and New York, are the bluest of the blue states.
    They regularly vote whomever is the Democratic candidate at the
    national level, without giving much thought as to why?

    Prior to the election, I talked to a friend in the Big Apple. She
    said everyone she knows, is voting for Hillary. Obama was not
    special in her crowd.

    Maybe Hillary would have been better for the country, maybe not?

    My own impression is that she would not get Republican votes needed
    in the Congress, but might have made inroads in the blue dog Demcrats
    (Conservative Democrats). I am not sure.

    Yes, it’s all about voters, but then again, in our two party system of
    government, we have only two choices. Some consider this a plus,
    others a minus. Independents can swing the elections nationally.
    To that extent, they are a 3rd party. But their policies are as diverse
    as their numbers. Their votes cannot be relied upon.

    After Bush won the first election, an acquintence, who is a radical
    leftist, told me, the Independents would determine the outcome.
    They did by their votes in Florida. His excuse was that with or w/o
    Independent votes, the outcomes would be the same.

    I don’t think so.

    Obama won caus he had better salesmen (and women). The Republicans
    could not match Axelrod.

    There is a book out now about the election (read today’s LA Times).
    It goes into some silly stuff, like the personal lives of the candidates.
    Apparently, McCain was neck and neck with Obama, until that is
    Palin was chosen. Lieberman was anathma to the party base due
    to his liberalism.

    But Palin was really a bad choice, and frankly shocked me.
    Any other Republican gov would have been better. The Republicans
    skrewed up badly.

    It’s about selling the party and it’s ideology folks, it’s about image.
    It’s also about who will provide the most benefits.

    The Democrats had the minorities in their pocket. They had
    the gullible youth who felt they could now CHANGE the country
    from the bottom up. They were wrong, we adults make the
    decisions. We own the corporations and the small businesses.
    We have some life experience. We have been subjected to the
    hard knocks. We think rationally most times, but not all.

    It’s interesting that (per the LA Times), the American people
    are getting sick and tired of the sick plan for their illnesses.
    It’s about jobs, and has always been about jobs.

    No job, no spinach on one’s plate, and no plate.

    We read that 2m jobs were created since the stimulus package.
    But only one-third has been spent to date, on projects that
    really are a waste of our money.

    The money has yet to be paid back guys. I ask, have out taxes
    been lowered (not in Calif)? In my state, they have increased.
    We have yet to see the 1,000 credit.

    Studies show that IF insurance benefits are taxed, or premiums,
    the middle class will feel it. Government workers may see a rise in
    their premiums and a lessening of their benefits ( they get good
    health insurance). AARP is concerned that older workers may have
    to pay more for their insurance (wha?).

    I mean who get sick guys? Ask anyone over 50 about his (her) health.

    Young people don’t get fatal illnesses, older people do and die. (Forget
    about wars which take a miniscule number of lives). Heck over 100,000
    people die after going into a hospital but not due to their illness. Over 35000 people die in auto accidents yearly.

    Alcohol and smoking kill lots of people later in life ( test your liver people).
    COPD is killer due to smoking. But it takes years to develop.

    It’s about votes, yes indeed.

    In California, the spinners are already belittling the candidates for
    gov ( Republican), while the give me what you have crowd wants more
    and more of US. They feel they deserve it, even though from our
    sweat and blood.

  4. Micky 2 says:

    ” What you guys need is some new ideas, preferably one’s that aren’t just moral rationalizations for greediness.”

    Ho hum. yawn.

    Greed huh ? Like the millions of Obama voters who saw something for nothing if they elected him ?
    Like the millions who thought it was their right to take whats not theirs ?

    Go back, try again, and see if you can get past the sophomoric 1960s regurgitated ” hate the establishment, bad capitalist bullsht ” and actually sound like you had an original thought that was half way intelligent.

  5. What “millions” who saw what “something” for what “nothing,” Micky? Be clear. I have no idea what you’re talking about.


  6. Micky 2 says:

    Until you apologize for the “teabagger” crap and knock it off I’m simply going to be launching critiques your way with no real conversing.
    People who are simply exercising their rights and not really harming anyone dont deserve it. Especially on reagular daily basis being used as a definative term.
    Like I said, I’m about the most foul mouthed SOB you could ever meet, but you’re crossing the line in saying that I suck on balls because of my beliefs. You can say I’m as dumb as a rock, ignorant, bigoted, with all kinds of attached expletives or whatever that doesnt bother me as much as someone whos strongest representation of good people is that they run around performing sexual acts on each other, Yeah, I’ve done it to a certain extent myself at times but when someone tells you that he takes it personally, asks for an apology, and you instead continue using the phrase, continuing the insult along with coming up with some bullsht rationalization for it that really held no water in the first place the only thing I can say to that person is to go f**k yourself, if you get lucky

  7. Awwww… can’t take what you dish out anymore, Micky? LOL! Yeah, right. It’s a joke. Get over it. Jesus, man, you guys say all sorts of nasty stuff about liberals all the time. Grow a skin, man.


  8. Micky 2 says:

    You dont get it, do you ?
    Your case against the tea partiers was proven vacant in the last post where you referd me to some site that only had 10 baseless, made up or exagerrated claims and suggestions for us that I proved invalid and mostly a matter of opinion.
    You have no stats that confirm us to be anything you said we were…

    “Micky, many of the Tea Baggers behave despicably. You can’t deny that. Pelosi called them out. I think that’s great. These people compare Obama and the Dems to Hitler and Nazis, Stalin, terrorists, you name it. The Tea Baggers are a disgraceful bunch.”

    After I protested this and gave many examples of liberals protesting badly you said;

    “You can’t thank of any examples of the Tea Baggers behaving despicably??? Really??? I have to look this stuff up for you??? Are you blogging from a computer or by making digital smoke signals??? Look it up yourself. Here’s a good place to start:

    The problem is as usual you expect me to do your freeking homework for you and prove your claims for you along with not being able to back up your sht. I quoted the sites points which you said were indicative of what you were talking about and the justification for your sick a$$ choice of words but instead were pretty freeking lame and didnt confirm any of your accusations.
    I saw the pics of the protestors and their posters which only said “politicians are like diapers” – “impeach the Muslim” – “bury Obamacare” – and I cant even read the rest they were so far away from the camera.
    Is that what you call a “dispicable bunch ??? HUH you moron ?

    You tell me to grow some skin over being called a teabagger when you’re soiling yourself over that lame crap you showed me ??

    And then theres the ten points on the site which I chewed up and spit out with no rebutal or refutal on your part at all but to call them teabaggers all over again after I nicely asked you to give them some respect for exercising their freedoms in a peaceful non violent manner with not one need for the police ever.
    I’m calling you to a higher mark and you’re failing big time by only being able to call them derogatory names with no substantial claims to prove against them.
    If you dont want to cooperate with what is a call to imrove the quality of your postings and Erics blog so be it. You’ll find yourself arguing with Dan and thats it.
    Alot of people used to come here but now theres only about 3 readers. I suspect its because they got tired of the tirades between you and I and moved on elsewhere.
    Last time I told you that you were cut off I moved on, changed my tune a little and actully started getting paid for my contributions, enough to almost cover my mortgage every month and actually get some liberals to undertsand what were all about.
    As arrogant as it might sound you might want to start trying to be a little more like myself and at least have something besides your vitriolic bullsht and opinions substitute for substantiality. This has always been your downside as I’ve consistently for almost three years now defeated your arguments with verifiable facts and sources. And dont deny it, because any fool who can look back on Erics archives will see that its true.

    Until then, I’ll just drop in every now and then to make the record clear, exposing your crap for what it is, exposing you for the emotional hack that you are, offering no conversation whatsoever.

  9. Brian H says:

    Eric, I know it drives traffic at the moment, but your blog would be well served in the medium and long run by banning McJones. He has almost permanently highjacked the discussions with his purblind verbose leftist inanity. Enough already! He’s long since past the point of saying anything new, and never has said anything worthwhile.

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