As I see lost of smoke, sound, and fury on various blogs regarding the recent special election, it occured to me that someone should put their foot down and lay out how things are.
I imagine you can guess who I think that foot should be.
1. Sharon Bulova won the election, Pat Herrity did not. His showing is not a mandate for change. However, for Ms. Bulova, a 20 year incumbent, to win in blue Fairfax by a narrow margin-not to mention holding a majority by only six votes, suggests that there are more people out there than she was willing to acknowledge during the campaign that want things done differently in Fairfax. If the Democratic controlled board does not get spending under control fast then they are in for big troubles come 2011, because…
2. GOP candidates always run better when they can focus on governance. As long suggested by Maslow, there is a hierarchy of needs in life. I suggest this hierarchy impacts what issues are important to voters.
The GOP slide has been associated with not having a real or perceived focus on the issues most important to voters.
The GOP in the Reagan years by focusing on tax and defense issues, items that strike at fundamental needs in the hierarchy. The Contract with America focused on governance issues, again with great success. But there was an underlying current seeking a greater focus on social issues, which was used brilliantly to create wedge issues that assured a small but consistent and unified GOP edge in the Congress, and (combined with defense support) saw the GOP through to narrow Presidential victories in 2000 and 2004.
Problem-post 2004 a series of White House execution miscues (“Great Job, Brownie”), local electoral miscues (example-Hitler ad, “Macaca”), and a generally worsening economy caused the GOP to lose ground. Electoral discontent, on top of a perception of the GOP as rigid and narrow, has diminished the GOP reputation.
Social issues have always been with us, but no social issue (as opposed to fundamental rights) has been the basis for a successful long term political movement. Example-Civil Rights or Prohibition…which has the longer term significance? Questions about abortion or prayer in school have little chance of turning an election when people are worried about losing their jobs.
The GOP does better when it focuses on issues that go to or impact fundamental human needs. The more it gets wrapped up in issues higher up the pyramid, the less well it will do. If the GOP focuses on governance and administration, and the Democrats continue to fail to deal with the $650 million shortfall they created on the Connelly/Bulova watch, they will have problems in Fairfax County.
3. Did the narrow Democratic win in the Alexandria House election impact the Fairfax special election? Should the GOP have contested the Brian Moran seat? Probably and Yes. The Moran special was the canary in the coal mine, but you don’t build a party by letting seats go uncontested.
4. The real bright side to the special election? The Bulova win showed that the GOP can be competitive in Fairfax. Remember, it is not necessary at present for the GOP to win NoVA, just not to get shellacked there. The special also showed how the GOP can do when the focus is not on social issues, which may help focus the future of the party. IN addition, the race helped create a record that Bulova will have to defend in 2011. Bulova addressed the $650 million shortfall with glittering generalities, which she could well do in a special election. But come 2011, she and the Democratic board had best have some answers and made progress, or else it will be difficult for voters to think they are the ones to leave in power.
Those are my thoughts…now back to Braddock District, where we will have a special election for Supervisor next month, and potentially another in, oh…late April? We shall see!