“Here’s my strategy: we win, they lose.”
— Ronald Reagan

by Rod D. Martin
June 9, 2006

This was one of the more politically significant weeks in recent history. A recap of the winners and losers:

Conservative Senators. On not one but two key votes — permanent Death Tax repeal and a Constitutional Marriage Protection Amendment — conservatives led by Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) did what we’ve all been clamoring for them to do: stand and fight. They lost. It doesn’t matter. They showed a spine. And they put their opponents on the record where it counts.

Democrats. The left reminded everyone this week what a Democrat majority would mean, with near-unanimous opposition to Death Tax repeal and near-unanimous support for gay marriage. Given that the conservative position on both issues enjoys 70-80% support among real voters, this may have been the death blow for a Democrat takeover this November.

John McCain and Lincoln Chafee. The usual RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) voted wrong, but two stood out. Lincoln Chafee — who joined Democrats in both votes — faces pro-growth conservative Stephen Laffey in a hotly-contested GOP primary September 12th. It just got hotter, with a disgusted base at home and national groups like the Club for Growth and TheVanguard.Org targeting his race. Likewise, John McCain, who abandoned conservatives on marriage (as on so many other things), might as well kiss the Christian Right goodbye. Without them, a Presidential nomination is impossible.

Tax Reform. Bill Frist’s response to the Death Tax defeat was an immediate promise to bring the topic back to the floor “this year”. And with last month’s extension of the President’s tax cuts and AMT relief in play, reformers will only pick up steam.

The Republican House. Republican House members routinely pass legislation that would make Ronald Reagan look like a leftist. But the public isn’t noticing: few of their bills make it past the Senate to the President’s desk. And conservatives may wrongly punish them this November for their Senate-brethren’s sins.

The Pro-Family Movement. No one expected the Marriage Protection Amendment to pass: needing 67 votes, Democrats were sure to block it. But voters are solidly opposed to the radical homosexual agenda — yet another gay marriage ban passed by a 4-1 margin just this Tuesday in Alabama — and Arlington Group leaders like James Dobson and D. James Kennedy will use the Senate defeat to target foes and build momentum in the states.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and al Qaeda. Zarqawi’s death conclusively demonstrates to “the Arab street” that Zarqawi is not immortal, U.S. forces are finishing the job, and the best hope for a better future is peace and the democratic process. Fortunately for everyone, most Iraqis believed that last bit anyway. Highlighting it undermines al Qaeda more than a million smart bombs.

The American Worker. A long-overdue market correction may obscure it, but the economy is booming, at a 4% average growth rate, the best in the industrialized world. Real wages are up, productivity is up, and companies from around the world are building plants and bringing jobs here. And as of this week, unemployment is at a 40 year low, all as a result of pro-growth, pro-investment economic policies the Democrats would instantly overturn in power.

MoveOn.org and the DNC. MoveOn poured vast resources into electing Francine Busby — a liberal most noted for encouraging illegal aliens to vote for her — to replace the jailed Duke Cunningham. A Busby victory would have energized Democrats and likely foreshadowed a GOP disaster this fall.

Instead, conservative reform candidate Brian Bilbray came from far behind to whomp her. His pro-border security stand was key. His principled stand against Howard Dean-liberalism did the rest.

The Conservative Movement. All these things represent an enormous opportunity for conservatives, even the short-term defeats. And the Bilbray race shows that, when conservatives stand on principle — as they’ve done quite a lot this week — they beat the Nancy Pelosi left hands-down.

But conservatives could throw it all away. In frustration at “the Republicans”, they ignore the fact that virtually all Republican House members and most Republican Senators are with them nearly all the time. The sell-outs (McCain, Chafee, et al.) are tarring and feathering the rest. And a badly communicating White House still isn’t helping.

This week shows clearly: sitting home and “sending Republicans a message” will just empower the radical left. What is needed is not “message-sending” but more elected conservatives.

That’s the challenge the conservative movement faces: can it grow up enough to seize the day.