What the Heck Went Wrong?
In 1991, three years into the presidency of George H. W. Bush, the proportion of Americans who told the Gallup organization that they were Democrats or leaned Democratic stood at 44 percent; the proportion of Republicans and Republican leaners, at 48 percent. By 2006, five years into the presidency of George W. Bush, Democrats and Democratic leaners came in at 50 percent; Republicans and Republican leaners at only 40 percent. From one Bush to another, in other words, the GOP had lost 14 points — and lost its majority.
What the heck happened?
Today on Uncommon Knowledge, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan’s eleventh district, the fourth ranked Republican in the House, offers his answer.
We began to forget that we represent districts. You cannot do certain things and expect to get reelected. Take free trade and look at districts where we lost a lot of seats in the Ohio River valley. These are not hotbeds of free trade. What would happen was that, as members cast difficult votes—votes their constituencies didn’t like—the leadership would offer to help them out with this or that project in their districts. Overspending became a problem, but it was really a symptom of our failure to understand that the Party can only move so fast on certain issues. Politics is the art of the possible.