A Point Lost in the Shuffle

by Shannen W. Coffin

In all the analysis of whether or not last night was a referendum on President Obama, one critical point may not be getting through regarding the New Jersey race. Setting aside whether Obama was a drag or a boon to the Democratic incumbent there, John Corzine’s loss should be a clarion call to Democrats everywhere, including the president. As the NRO editorial says, “The Democratic governor there was a failure.” But he was a failure because he applied tried, true, and failed Democratic policies to a state in crisis. Higher taxes and higher spending is not a recipe for reform and recovery. Under a crushing burden of income and property taxes in a recessionary economy, even the bluest of blue states will cry “uncle.” Corzine’s loss isn’t so much a proxy for Obama’s flagging personal popularity — and it still appears that the president remains personally popular — but it is a referendum on Democratic ideas. Corzine lost because his ideas failed. Even more than Virginia, where term limits kept the incumbent from running again (while I’m on the subject, am I the only one that thinks a single four-year term limit is just plain stupid — I’m sure it has plenty of anti-incumbent defenders, but two terms seems essential to accomplishing anything these days How about shorter terms with a dual term limit instead? Two three-year terms? These guys are campaigning all the time anyway, so what’s a shorter term going to do? But I digress). Corzine’s loss may very well be a bellwether for the debates in Washington these days, but not because of the impact on or of a celebrity president’s popularity. When New Jersey wakes up to failed policy, can the rest of the country be far behind?

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