I think of my blog as a chronicle of the fall of the Republican Party of Virginia. That’s a realization that just hit me. Since I first started blogging about politics, five years ago, that’s been the theme. It was as clear to me then as it is now that the Republican majority is probably a fluke, and that they’re on a trajectory to lose the majority by 2009. Democrats lost 25 seats after Republicans’ 2001 redistricting, but have gained about 4.3 seats annually since 2003. Just do the math: that rate gives Dems the majority in 2009. When that happens, I guess I’m just done, chronicle completed.
Anyhow, it’s with that in mind that I’ve gotten a kick out of some of the recent news from Republicans. Thursday’s Senate budget battle was unlike anything seen in the chamber for many years now. With the most collegial Republicans largely retired, and the party now in the minority there, the remaining members have the mindset of the embattled minority that they are. So they used tricks of parliamentary procedure to slow down the budget process as much as possible, promoting a budget that’s similar to House Republicans’. That might not sound interesting, except that the past budget battles weren’t between Republicans and Democrats, but between House Republicans and Senate Republicans. As Clarke Hogan told the Post, the Senate Republicans have adopted “a more conservative bent than they have.” The House is drowning, and the Senate is throwing them an anchor.
I’m likewise pleased by the news that Jeff Frederick is looking to become the new RPV chairman. (For those playing along at home, yeah, the RPV replaces its chairman, like, weekly.) Frederick is a far-right Republican, precisely the sort of guy whose positions are losing Republicans the majority.
The other night I had a chance to chat with a dozen Republican friends and newly-made Republican friends, some of whom are pretty prominent in the world of Virginia politics. To a man, they vented frustration about how far right the party has become, about how certain they are that the state is about to have two Democrats in the U.S. Senate, and how certain they are that the HoD is about to flip to Dems. They all agreed that Republicans’ continual crunch to the right is the source of this, and all anticipate vindication in the very near future. Interestingly, several actually agree with these far-right positions, but recognize that they’re just too far out of the mainstream for the party to promote. Incidentally, some of these folks are power brokers who Mark Warner is wooing, as I’d speculated would happen.
What this all reminds me of is dot coms in 2000 and 2001, many of which didn’t merely go out of business — they crashed and burned. I think there’s something inherent about a fall from great power that makes its conclusion spectacular. It’s a belief that the thing that one has done wrong (blowing your entire advertising budget on a single ad during the Superbowl, or espousing beliefs that the majority of the state’s voters oppose) isn’t actually wrong, it’s that it wasn’t done enough. These tech businesses could see on their financial projections that if they maintained their burn rate they’d be out of business in six months. So they spent more on Superbowl ads, Aeron chairs, enormous parties and free overnight shipping of a single Hello Kitty eraser, employing the converse logic of “the hair of the dog.” (Allergic to pet dander? Eat a dog!) As Republicans steadily lose the majority to Democrats who occupy the center, they lose their own members towards the center, leaving an ever-smaller group unwilling or unable to comprehend that their beliefs might not be shared by the majority of Virginians. So ever farther from the center they go, accelerating that trend and handing control of the state to Democrats.
Keep up the good work, Senate Republicans. Vote Jeff Frederick for RPV chair!