Like a sand boil in a levee, Jane Corwin’s loss tonight portends rough times ahead for Republican Congressional candidates in the run-up to the 2012 elections. What we see in tonight’s election result is the power of the Democrats’ attack politics. What we didn’t see was a concerted effort by the GOP leadership during the past couple of months to control the message and sell its vision of why we need to change our government’s fiscal habits now.
There is a reason that voters are angry. For a generation we’ve been promised more government largess in return for our votes. At every turn, we were asked for few sacrifices but given many benefits. But the equation doesn’t add up and the fig leaf isn’t big enough to cover up the ugly truth any more. The voters who gave the GOP control of the House last November were calling for new leadership to address this looming crisis.
Congressional Republicans cannot take back Paul Ryan’s roadmap. Nor should they. The biggest single advantage Republicans have in wrestling the fiscal leviathan into submission is a willingness to address the problem. If they run away now, the Democrats can beat them up for being both insensitive and insincere. If Republicans unite and push ahead, they at least have a chance of channeling the discussion into an honest debate and moving towards a more sustainable fiscal framework for the federal government.
Think what you will of Paul Ryan’s roadmap, but it is a step ahead of what preceded it — complicit avoidance of the federal government’s parlous fiscal heath on both sides of the aisle. You may love it, you may hate it, but it is a plan — one that can be debated, amended, or rejected in favor of an alternative.
Like old age, we know the fiscal storm is coming. The wrath of the voters may seem like the more pressing concern in the wake of tonight’s election, but the Greek-style fiscal calamity that awaits our nation is far larger. The question for the GOP is whether they want to be known as the party that walked off the field when history called out for great men and women to stand up and lead — or if they are ready to fight the good fight.
Ford O’Connell and Steve Pearson are co-founders of CivicForumPAC and advisors to conservative candidates on Internet outreach, communications and campaign strategy.