Posted by: The moderator | November 4, 2009

NY-23: Where the Right Went Wrong

Tuesday proved to be a fairly good day for Republicans. Two new Republican governors were elected in Virginia and New Jersey. The Republicans say it’s a referendum on Obama’s first year, particularly his endangered healthcare policies. The Democrats point to the common trend that the opposition party almost always picks up new governors in the year immediately following a landslide election. It’s part of the ebb and flow of public opinion.

What nobody on the Right wants to talk about (although they really need to talk about it) is the loss in New York’s 23rd congressional district. The GOP drew so much attention to that race, with significant intra-party disagreements over who the candidate ought to be, that it seems a Democratic win undoes a lot of the GOP’s momentum.

Well, someone is talking about the loss, but they’re so shortsighted they can’t even recognize they lost. Red State posted a troubling commentary arguing that conservatives won in NY-23. The reason: “in NY-23, conservatives rallied and destroyed the Republican candidate the establishment chose” and “the GOP now must recognize it will either lose without conservatives or will win with conservatives.”

Here’s what’s wrong with that interpretation:

1. Conservatives now have a left-leaning Democrat representing the 23rd district instead of a centrist Republican, giving Obama a new ally in his healthcare reform efforts.

2. Destroying your party doesn’t rebuild it. Conservatives haven’t achieved a new conservative agenda yet, they’ve just attracted the ire of some party heavyweights who supported Scozzafava (like Gingrich).

3. Now there’s an increased incentive for people outside a district to meddle in the district’s elections. People in far-flung states don’t know what’s best for the people of New York’s 23rd district, and yet they think they’re entitled to decide the nominee rather than people more in tune with the district’s population.

4. Far-right conservatives are trying to jam their ideology down the throats of moderate conservatives, giving those moderates more incentive to jump ship and vote for the Democrats.

5. If the minority party appears to be in disunity, it can’t retake the majority of the legislature. Now the minority party doesn’t just appear to be at war with itself, it is at war with itself.

6. What about the swing voters that make or break elections across the country? The Republicans can’t attract those voters if a small group of very vocal conservatives makes the party seem out of touch with people who aren’t ideologues.

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