We stand a week from the final midterm election of Barack Obama’s Presidential career. When I survey the field I do not see a wave election for the GOP.
I never have seen a wave in the polling, at least not at the national level. At the local level, I think we will see a lot of what we saw in 2010. It will be wavy. But while I think the GOP will take the Senate, I do not think it will be by much.
Much of the success the GOP is going to have will be in spite of its best efforts to lose. Many of the party’s major difficulties this cycle have come from its chief consultants and party organizations who have seemed more intent on beating conservatives than Democrats.
When I survey the election as it is finally shaping up, I get a sense there will be a bigger night for the GOP than I thought a few months ago. It looks like it is trending away from the small national gains I expected to larger national gains. But there is something else I see: paper.
First, success will paper over deep problems for Republicans. Its consultants, though they want to win, have structured a system whereby they make millions even in a loss. Many will be heralded as political geniuses when they would otherwise be seen as second rate hucksters and con-artists. Frankly, there are too many consultants and aides in the GOP in Washington who, were they not successful, would probably be in jail for fraud, assault, or worse.
But in structuring a system where they win even if they lose, they have managed to paper over their abusive behavior toward female interns, donors, constituents, and often even candidates. Should things go well for the GOP, all will be forgotten and many who should be removed from the process will further embed into the system.
Papering over their issues too will be evangelical conservatives. Many of them have grown worried about the direction of the country. They have made an idol of it. More interested in the nation than their faith, they’ve decided to enact their faith through their politics. They will get a reprieve.
Hiding under the paper declaring Republican victories, they will grow complacent again with a Republican Party that is moving further and further from their values. Nationally, the rich donors the establishment listens to more often worship Mammon than God. This will affect Republicans long term.
But in victory, these issues can be papered over.
My great fear is that in victory Republicans will overlook the behavior that nearly cost them victory. My greater fear is that evangelicals, in victory, will over look their faith for their idol.
“When I survey the wondrous cross / On which the Prince of glory died, / My richest gain I count but loss, /And pour contempt on all my pride,” wrote Isaac Watts.
When I survey what is shaping up to be a wondrous election for the GOP, I fear there will be so much boasting that the party, its base, and the faithful will ignore the rot and feed their pride. Victory can heal much that ails the party, but it can, like in 2010, just paper over issues that still must be dealt with.