The political numbers tell a grim story. In five decades of closely following American politics, I have never seen the Democratic Party in worse shape. Democrats trail in polls in 11 of the 18 Democratic-held Senate seats up this fall and lead in polls in none of the 18 Republican-held seats. ... But if I have never seen the Democratic Party in worse shape, I have seen the Republican Party in better shape — in 1972 (when Richard Nixon unaccountably failed to boost his party), at various points in the 1980s and 1990s, in 2002 and in 2004, when enthusiasm for George W. Bush eluded most political reporters but showed up in the election returns.
Republicans could win a majority -- but then they would have to face the responsibilities of governing. In the face of the deficit and the looming entitlements problem, those responsibilities will entail a lot of cutting. Barone says that cutting is risky...
But there is a case for boldness. The architects of Bush’s victory in 2004 and of Obama’s victory in 2008 dreamed of establishing permanent governing majorities for their parties. But as political scientist David Mayhew has argued, and as the events following those victories suggest, a permanent majority is a will o’ the wisp.
Better to put into place public policies that will be enduring as party majorities come and go. This is what the Republican Congress elected in 1946 did: It repealed wartime wage and price controls, it revised labor law to reduce unions’ powers and it provided bipartisan support for Harry Truman’s Cold War policies. Democrats won back congressional majorities in 1948, but Republicans’ policies stayed in place, shaping prosperous postwar America.
Americans have rejected the Europeanizing policies of the Obama Democrats. Republicans may get a chance to put us on a better American path. They need to be prepared to do so.