If the GOP Retakes the Senate . . . | National Review Online

Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer

You can win midterm elections without a positive agenda. You can’t win presidential elections that way. It is therefore vitally important for Republicans to win the Senate in 2014. Here’s why.

In midterms, it’s all right to be the Party of No. The 2010 election, for example, was a referendum on the liberal overreach of the first two Obama years. Result? A Democratic “shellacking,” said President Obama. The massive stimulus, (the failed) cap-and-trade, and Obamacare created a major backlash that cost Obama the House and, with it, the rest of his ideological agenda. It’s been blocked ever since.

That’s the power of no. And Republicans should not apologize for it. The role of the opposition is to oppose. With the welfare state having reached the outer limits of its competency and solvency, it is in desperate need of restructuring and reform. With an ideologically ambitious president committed instead to expanding entitlements, regulation, and government itself, principle alone would compel the conservative party to say stop.

“Stop” was more than enough in 2010. With the president in decline and his presidency falling apart, it will be enough in 2014. Those complaining that Republicans haven’t come up with a national agenda are forgetting that we don’t have a parliamentary system. We don’t have an organized hierarchical opposition with a shadow prime minister and shadow cabinet. We’ve got 500-odd local political entrepreneurs running under the same Republican banner but offering distinctly independent takes on its philosophy.

The 1994 Contract With America is, of course, the exception. But that required unique leadership and circumstances. We do not have that now.

Nor do we need to. Republicans today are on track to take back the Senate.

Why is this important? It’s not an end in itself, nor will it change the trajectory of Obama’s presidency. His agenda died on November 2, 2010, when he lost the House. It won’t be any deader on November 4, 2014, if he loses the Senate.

But regaining the Senate would finally give the GOP the opportunity, going into 2016, to demonstrate its capacity to govern.

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