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|My how times have changed since Republican Revolution|
(Editor's Note: The following column was first published the week of Oct. 23, 2006. It is being reprinted in light of polling data that suggests the Republican Party stands to reverse gains that Democrats made in the past two election cycles.)
If the political handicappers on the national stage in Washington are correct and if current polling data on congressional races throughout the country holds true until Election Day, Nov. 7, get ready.
That's because U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco could become Speaker of the House and U.S. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada could become the next Senate Majority Leader on the heels of the Democratic Party's take-over of the Congress.
If that happens, the direction that the country takes for at least the next two years will change drastically, including the U.S. military's involvement in Iraq, which has served as a wedge issue in congressional races from sea to shining sea. Either you're for the war or you're against it.
One thing's for sure. If the Democrats take over the Congress, they'll make life miserable for President George W. Bush, whose final two years in office most likely will become his worst nightmare come true. Impeachment proceedings against the president over the alleged withholding of intelligence information concerning the Iraqi War are quite possible. At the very least, congressional hearings should be held to determine if the president of the United States ignored intelligence findings to foster his drive to go to war to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
While it's not a done deal yet and the voters have yet to cast their ballots, polls tell us the Democrats are poised to take back control of the House and Senate in the mid-term elections, marking the first time the Democrats will control both chambers in the Congress since 1994.
That was the year the Republican Revolution swept the country in the wake of Bill Clinton's first 18 months in office as the 42nd president of the United States. Clinton's bumbling with the gays in the military issue and his wife's meddling in congressional affairs over national health care concerns fueled the electorate's shift to the GOP, which hadn't controlled Congress in 40 years.
Twelve years ago on the eve of Election Day, polling data told us Republicans as a whole held a six-point advantage over the Democrats. The GOP picked up some 40 seats in the House and took control of the Senate as well.
Today, on the eve of Election Day 2006, polling data tells us the Democrats hold a 15-point advantage over Republicans. The pundits predict the Republicans will lose anywhere from eight to 30 seats in the House, while control of the Senate could possibly remain in the hands of the GOP. Possibly.
Twelve years ago, the Republicans were united behind the "Contract with America" campaign platform that voters embraced with open arms. Clinton was that unpopular.
Today, one-half of the country hates Bush with a passion, but the Democrats are campaigning like…well, Democrats. They're unorganized, and they can't agree on anything except their belief that the Republicans have made a mockery of the governing and have fostered an era of corruption not seen on Capitol Hill since the Teapot Dome scandal. Warren Harding would be proud.
Where does Louisiana stand amid the potential changing of the guard in Congress?
Traditionally, Louisianians aren't prone to throw out an incumbent member of Congress in spite of his or her transgressions.
Traditionally, Louisiana sings its own tune and walks to the beat of a different drummer than the rest of the country.
That much could be said for the pending outcome of the mid-term elections in Louisiana where no member of the House is at risk of being defeated in his re-election campaign, except for embattled Congressman William Jefferson of New Orleans. Jefferson, a Democrat, would be a shoe-in for another term in the House were it not for allegations that the native of Lake Providence took bribes in exchange for his help with a telecommunications project in Africa. Even former U.S. Sen. John Breaux turned on Jefferson, who has helped deliver the black vote in the Big Easy for Democrats for years and years.
While voters nationwide are treading toward the Democratic Party, Louisiana would appear to be truly becoming a red state, or a Republican stronghold.
In 1994, voters across the country were embracing Republicans as if they were a gift from God. Not so in Louisiana where Edwin Edwards was still governor back then and the late Fox McKeithen was the only Republican to hold a statewide elected office.
Today, two special elections held last month to fill unexpired terms for statewide offices were won by Republicans. Meanwhile, Republican Congressman Bobby Jindal of Kenner leads Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, in at least one poll which was taken to gauge the public's mood prior to next year's governor's race in which Jindal is expected to challenge Blanco. Again.
The question, my fellow Louisianians, that we must ask ourselves is a simple one.
Is the electorate throughout the rest of the country out of touch with reality in its thinking politically or are we out of touch in Louisiana?
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