(Tea) Party Like It’s 1980

Posted by | August 30, 2010 11:31 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

The New York Times yesterday drew an interesting analogy between this year’s midterm elections and the Republican takeover of the Senate in 1980.

In 1980, shocked Senate Democrats lost 12 seats in a rout that ended the Congressional careers of such notable lawmakers as George McGovern of South Dakota, Birch Bayh of Indiana, Frank Church of Idaho, Warren Magnuson of Washington and Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin.

Swept into office by the landslide victory of Ronald Reagan were a number of conservatives, including Jeremiah A. Denton Jr. of Alabama, Mack Mattingly of Georgia, Paula Hawkins of Florida, Steve Symms of Idaho and several others whose notion of the role of government and Congress was markedly different from those they succeeded.

Interestingly you’ll note that most of you have never heard of Denton, Mattingly, Symms, and Hawkins.  That’s because six years later they were voted out of office as the Democrats retook the Senate in 1986.   The 1980 Republicans that managed to win re-election (and leave their mark on policy) were the more moderate, Chuck Grassley, Al D’Amato, and Warren Rudman.

As the search for silver linings in this November’s election continues, keep this in mind.  The electorate does not tolerate extremes.  If Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, Ken Buck, and Joe Miller win election (and I think Paul and Miller will) then they will either change their tunes, or in six years they will face uphill battles to be reelected.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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