There's been a lot of rumbling and unease among the conservative punditry lately about what might happen if the Miers nomination is defeated/withdrawn. Even a lot of folks who just as miffed by this ordeal as I am seem to be nervous that if the Miers nomination is stared down, that will somehow spell doom for the Republican party. Well, what about this worry?
I suppose that, historically speaking, it is legitimate to be concerned, at the very least, about 2006. The best historical indicator we have to go on, of course, is the 1992 election, which immediately followed two consecutive Bush 41 disasters: the violation of "read my lips" and the nomination of David Souter. In response to this outright betrayal, many conservatives stayed home/voted Perot, and thusly we got eight years of Bill Clinton. Not such a great outcome, I know. However, the aftermath was actually what revived the Republican party.
You see, after 1992, a bunch of smart political guys like Haley Barbour and Newt Gingrich decided that appeasing liberals wasn't such a hot way to go, electorally speaking, and that for one election cycle, they ought to just be unapologetically conservative. Stand straight up for less spending and smaller government. Sell the conservative message hard and direct to the people, and see if they buy it. The result, as I'm sure you will remember, was the revolution of 1994, and the re-awakening of the Republican party.
Now, at this juncture, we stand with even less to lose, politically speaking. Let us suppose that the defeat of this nomination necessarily would entail electoral losses in 2006 (a debatable proposition at best). We would still be better off now than we were in 1992, in that we would not be opening the door for a Democrat to take control of the Presidency for 8 years - and I would view the Presidency as being the more significant prize, electorally speaking (especially given the current GWOT). Also, we would be looking at a Souter-style revolt without the added indigestion of having a justice like David Souter actually put on the bench for at least 15 years. In other words, it's perfectly possible to send a message to the party apparatus that they're forgetting their principles and ticking all of us off without losing nearly as much as we did in 1992. And, ironically, it may be the same man pulling the party out of the fire in 2008 that pulled us out in 1994 (Haley Barbour).
I know there are some that disagree with me, but I just can't shake the feeling that since 1994, the party has lost its conservative way. They've become bloated and short-sighted in their approach, attempting to bribe the people with their own money, as it were. In other words, they've almost become the very Democrats they supplanted (with the exception of foreign policy, which is again controlled in the largest part by the President, not the Congress).
We've tried sending emails and phone calls. We've tried getting the message through in blogs. The current furor over Miers is the most sustained message I've ever seen from a base to its elected officials. If this doesn't work, I don't really know of an effective way to get their attention short of hitting them where it hurts - the ballot box. And if that can bring back Republicans again, I don't think it will be such an awful price to pay.
To be clear - I don't think the rejection of Harriet Miers will necessarily produce an electoral disaster in 2006. In fact, I would posit that her confirmation poses an exactly equal risk of electoral disaster, especially if she turns out to be anything short of fantastic, given the open hostility that has erupted over the past week, and seems to be growing. But even supposing that it does, I have reason to hope that the party will be able to right the ship in time for 2008, and that the climate will be right for another conservative revolution then.