Feehery: The next Republican wave is coming
In my short three decades in Washington, I have seen two huge Republican waves and I am anticipating a third one a year from now.
The latest generic ballot has Republicans up a touchdown and a field goal, the largest margin I have ever witnessed. If the GOP screws this one up, it will be the most epic fail in history.
There were signs that 1994 was going to be a big year for Republicans, but the establishment had become so used to Democrats running the House that nobody truly believed that then-Rep. Newt Gingrich (Ga.) could take the Speaker’s gavel. Those signs included an incompetent Clinton administration, abject corruption in the House, a favorable issue set for a center-right country, and a motivated and energized Republican conference.
It became pretty clear by the fall of 2009 that the shelf-life of the Democratic majority was expiring in November of 2010. Instead of focusing on the economy, the Obama administration spent all their political capital on health care reform. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made her moderates walk the plank on climate change legislation that never went anywhere in the Senate. And former President Obama himself became a polarizing figure who inspired a Tea Party revolt.
The key difference between the 1994 and 2010 came with the governing agenda. Gingrich had one and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) didn’t. The Contract with America had a specific set of promises that were achievable if you looked at the fine print, and those promises started with a complete overhaul of the House of Representatives. The Tea Party, on the other hand, was an incoherent jumble of the unachievable (repealing ObamaCare) and the incomprehensible (keep the government’s hands off of Medicare) as the movement devolved into a mass of petty grifters who were using the passion of the moment to make a few bucks.
The next Republican wave will be a reaction to the progressive movement’s monumental overreach. As always happens, Republicans fail because they try to do too little, while the Democrats fail because they always try to do way too much. President Biden campaigned like he was former President Clinton in his second term but has tried to govern like he is FDR, LBJ or Obama.
The Biden bait-and-switch is only part of the Democrats’ problem. The American people don’t want more government. Sure, they will take the handouts, because free money is hard to resist. But voters understand instinctively that there is no such thing as a free lunch. They blame the Democrats and the president for inflation and high gas prices (rightfully so), they blame the Democrats and the president for the risk of more government restrictions on freedom (rightfully so), they blame the Democrats and the president for failing schools (ex. the Glenn Youngkin victory in Virginia), and they blame the whole progressive movement for cancel culture, wokeness, defunding of the police and a general disdain of America and its cultural norms.
The left has become anti-American, anti-capitalist, anti-free speech, anti-liberty, pro-globalist, pro-lockdown, pro-socialist, pro-COVID-19 hysteria, pro-climate hysteria, pro-mask and pro-gender-bending. They have become very easy to run against.
That explains why Republicans will win in November. All the GOP has to say is “we are not them” and they will have a very good election. We are not crazy. We are not socialist. We are not hysterical. We are pro-family, pro-freedom, pro-economic growth, pro-getting people back to work.
The Republicans don’t need a crazy agenda full of promises they can’t keep. They don’t need to relitigate the 2020 presidential election. They shouldn’t spend anytime looking backward.
The Democrats believe that their only hope is to make this election about former President Trump. The media likes that strategy because Trump is very good for ratings. But actually the only thing that will help the Democratic Party now is if they turn away from the progressive nonsense that has driven Biden’s poll ratings to historic lows. That doesn’t seem very likely. And so, prepare yourself for the next Republican wave. It’s coming to a town near you.
Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at www.thefeeherytheory.com. He served as spokesman to former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), as communications director to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was majority whip and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).