Term Paper: Elections of 2006, in Which the Balance

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Elections of 2006, in which the balance of power in both houses of government were shifted to the Democratic party, and the nation clearly expressed a lack of faith in the status quo of the Republican legislature and, perhaps even more tellingly, the President himself.

On the heels of the 9/11 attacks, George Bush's approval ratings soared which gave him the electoral strength he needed to mount a war initially in Afghanistan and then expanded into Iraq. With a faltering economy, a war that quickly became a morass, and a seemingly never-ending supply of Republican corruption bubbling to the surface, the United States finally had enough - not enough to take Bush out of office in 2004, but enough to send a very clear message - the Republicans had failed to take care of the nation, had continued to blindly support the least-popular sitting president in the history of the nation, and had absolutely gone against many of the core party planks (mainly the ideal of a small and less invasive national government). This anti-Republican sentiment made itself felt not only at the national level, but at the state and local levels as well - a majority of Democratic governors were elected, state legislatures turned themselves over to the democrats. The issues that led to this massive rebellion against the Republicans were relatively straightforward: Bush was being increasingly seen as a president for the rich and the right wing (his promise of being a "uniter not a divider" (Bush, unidentified campaign speech, 2000) had clearly been an impossibility), the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had been going on for far too long with far too little effect, and the level of hypocrisy and corruption in the Republican party was far too much for the nation to swallow (OnTheIssues, 2007). In short, the Republicans had squandered their majority power on greed, hyper-narrowly-focused "moral" agendas, and upon supporting a president who did not enjoy the support of the people (Bush, 2004). Bush made enemies of the Democrats ("If you're not with us, you're against us") and his Republican party followed right along with him. All of these issues are what are heading us directly to the election cycle of 2008.

Before the elections of 2006, the Republican party held a majority of state governorships, both houses of the national legislature, and the Presidency (U.S. Department of State, 2008). In the previous 6 years, the economy had nearly collapsed, thousands of Americans had died both in terrorist attacks and in retaliatory wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, prominent Republicans had proven themselves to be as corrupt as any politician caricature, and Bush's inability and unwillingness to be at all flexible in his governing style had alienated more than half of the entire country (the New York Times, 2007). In the first six years of the Bush administration, Congress had been nothing more than a rubber stamp for Bush's agenda (Park, 2007). And the rules created by the Senate and House leaders made it impossible for Democrats to put up an effective balance/counter. With half of the nation's legislators disenfranchised, it was hoped (by Karl Rove) that the nation would then realize that the only way to have their voices heard would be by electing Republicans in perpetuity - thus absolutely destroying our two-party governmental system (Mealey, 2004).

The Republicans hung their shingles out and sounded their drums on issues that seemed to be catered only to the Evangelical right (Terri Schiavo, for one). They attacked Democratic Congressman William Jefferson (without any actual indictments being made) in an apparent witch hunt, they took massive amounts of money from Jack Abramoff and his staff, they demonstrated a massive hypocrisy and lack of focus on the Mark Foley scandal, and they knew about and tolerated Randall Cunningham's millions in payoffs and skimming (Toner, 2007).

The wars had clearly become conflicts of attrition with no actual end in sight. With all of this in mind, the American people fought back with the only real weapon individuals have in a Democracy - their votes.

The final results of the 2006 elections brought a Democratic majority into the House of Representatives, a 1-seat majority in the Senate, a majority of the state governorships, and not a single Democratic office in any race was lost to a Republican (the first time in the history of the nation for that to have occurred) (the Green Papers, 2007; Congress.org, 2007). When Bush took office and then won again in 2004, he told the nation that he claimed a clear "mandate," that the nation had obviously taken his side, unconditionally, and thus he was free to do whatever his "moral sense" told him to do (Domhoff, 2006). Clearly, the nation was not feeling that it had unequivocally elected Bush (he had nowhere near the landslide victory that Regan had earned against Carter or Mondale).

The elections, then, were a mandate against Bush and the Republicans.

There were many Republicans who, by the election cycle of 2006 and through to this current cycle, were starting to distance themselves from Bush. As the titular head of the Republican Party, Bush's approval rating would prove to tie directly to an overall approval of Republicans - if they weren't going to take care of ALL of the people they represented, then someone else would have to. Democrats have long been associated with issues having to do with social welfare, with labor, with the "common man" (AFL-CIO, 2007; Wolly, 2007). While the Republicans in 2000 and 2004 had succeeded in taking the "common man" element away from the Democrats, their staunch insistence that all members of the Republican party toe the line and "fit the mold" had resulted in clear conflicts of interest when it came to people like Randal Cunningham and Mark Foley. The prevalence of high-level Republicans admitting to political / financial / moral corruption during that previous cycle had been the stuff of Tammany Hall legend - and the hypocrisy kept on coming.

Corruption, then, became the hallmark issue not only for the voters, but for the Democrats as well. During the Clinton era, the only corruption scandal that occurred was involving White Water, and of course the impeachment. but, as neither amounted to anything and Clinton, even in the middle of the impeachment process enjoyed a higher approval rating than Bush does currently, it allowed the Democrats to actually mean what they claimed - that theirs was a party that respected the law. This absolutely resonated with the voters and the Republicans lost. This, of course, is what makes the campaigns of Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson so possible for the Republican party - neither one of them is associated with the kind of corruption and blind following of Bush that has stigmatized the rest of the race.

Now, into 2008, those issues still remain. Republicans keep finding themselves on the wrong side of scandals (Larry Craig being the most recent), accusations of corruption against Democrats do not exist, and while the Senate has a very hard time getting anything passed, it can legitimately claim that it is representative of the people in the balance of power therein (Smith-Spark, 2007). but, this does not mean that the Democrats are going to have an easy time winning the Presidency and maintaining their majority. In actuality, they are going to have a tough time of it because of the fact that they have not been able to pas their major legislative agenda (as the republicans did without problem). The bickering between the parties has not ceased and the problems of making deals continue to be the same. In short, 2006 put the Democrats in the drivers seat, but they've been steering the nation like a kid in driver's ed. What the nation appears to be looking for is a real leader - and governors, like Mitt Romney, have had the greatest level of success in the past thirty years (Appleman, 2007).

Rudolph Giuliani was, arguably, one of New York's most punitive and petty mayors whose only real success prior to 9/11 was cleaning up Times Square (Presidential Profiles, 2007). His campaign is based upon the realization that he is not part of the Republican status quo. This is true as well of Mitt Romney's campaign.

For Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama, their campaigns are focused on their liberal credentials and their care for the people.

The issues at the core of the Republican problem are central to the election of 2008. These issues that are going to decide the election revolve around anti-Bush identities, financial responsibility, inclusion of the entire nation under the umbrella of government, a removal of the petty divisiveness that has so marked congress, putting a quick an efficient end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a peaceful resolution of the growing Iranian problem. The people who win these elections will do so based upon their ability to distance themselves from the recent Republican history and can prove themselves to be a… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Elections of 2006, in Which the Balance.  (2007, October 28).  Retrieved May 26, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/elections-2006-balance/771541

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"Elections of 2006, in Which the Balance."  28 October 2007.  Web.  26 May 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/elections-2006-balance/771541>.

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"Elections of 2006, in Which the Balance."  Essaytown.com.  October 28, 2007.  Accessed May 26, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/elections-2006-balance/771541.