During the midterm elections of 2010, President Barack Obama invited members of the U.S. House, then controlled by Democrats, to join him on a plank hovering above shark infested waters. They did so and lost the House. The loss was substantial. Regaining control of the House they had lost in 2006, Republicans picked up a net total of 63 seats, the greatest party loss for Democrats in a House midterm election since 1938. In yet another off year election, Democrats have now lost the Senate in what some are calling a Republican sweep.
It is almost impossible to overstate the triumph of Republicans in the 2014 midterm elections. Republicans recaptured the U.S. Senate. There are now Republican governors in Illinois, President Barack Obama’s old stomping grounds, and in Massachusetts, formerly called by nutmeggers Taxachussets. Connecticut has far outpaced Massachusetts in taxation. Governor Dannel Malloy’s quarrels with New Jersey Governor Chris Christy are legendary. Now Mr. Malloy has a new Republican governor in Massachusetts to disparage. The Republican tsunami has left Democrats at their weakest point in state legislatures since 1920. Republicans captured new majorities in the West Virginia House, the Nevada Assembly and Senate, the New Hampshire House, the Minnesota House and the New York Senate.
When the new U.S. Senate convenes in January, Connecticut’s Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy will take their seats in a chamber controlled by Republicans and presided over by Mitch McConnell rather than Democratic obstructionist Harry Reid. Once the Reid logjam has been flushed away, the people’s business again may flow unimpeded through a Congress both Houses of which will be dominated by Republicans. Progressive Democrats are rather hoping that the barriers will be re-erected outside the White House. Mr. Obama still has a pen, a phone, a veto and a will stoked in the progressive fires of the last century. A much diminished Blumenthal will lose to Republicans his chairmanship positions on at least three Senate subcommittees: Judiciary, Armed Services and Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Mr. Murphy will surrender his chairmanship of the Subcommittee on European Affairs to some deserving Republican.
The principal lesson to be learned from all this is: If you want to fly around the political sun, you had best be propelled by other than wax wings.
Democrats – even in true blue states – had begun erecting a ten foot pole between themselves and some of President Barack Obama’s more fanciful policies well in advance of the general election. In Connecticut, a progressive backwater, Mr. Obama was greeted warmly by progressive Governor Dannel Malloy, but in most other states he was told by jittery Democrats to remain in the White House while elections were in process; better still, why not go golfing? Mr. Obama was shunned by Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, who allowed she would greet the president when he appeared in Connecticut only if he wandered through her district, the volatile 5th Congressional District that Ms. Esty, after a mudslinging campaign, won by a whisker.
Here in Connecticut, Republicans captured 10 seats in the state House, a gentle reminder to dominant Democrats in the General Assembly that they should not with impunity ignore the lesson brought home by the larger national election, a stunning rebuke to resurgent progressivism the central tenant of which touches on the purpose of government itself: In the progressive view, government exists to reform everything but government. If Connecticut Republicans had brought in only 1,890 more votes, they might have taken over the House.
Capital Bureau Chief for the Hartford Courant Chris Keating attributed Democratic losses in the House in part to the draconian gun law legislation passed after the mass murder of school children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a bill that figured prominently in Democratic campaigns. The gun law was supposed to bring in Democratic votes; it had the opposite effect, which should not have surprised thoughtful non-partisan reporters. Gun purchases in Connecticut spiked dramatically following the mass murders in Cheshire and Sandy Hook because householders who lived more than twenty minutes away from central police stations knew that a call to police would not have deterred violent criminals bent on mayhem. They bought guns to keep their families safe.
Of the three true-blue states left untouched by the national Republican tsunami, the other two being Hawaii and Delaware, Connecticut may be the truest and bluest. Whether the Connecticut Icarus will continue its course towards the progressive sun will depend upon the hubris of its governor and the thoughtlessness of its legislature, both of which are animated by the progressive afflatus.