Lose Now, Win Later?

Does the GOP care if they lose the Georgia Senate races?

In the last 40 years, the Democrats have only won the “federal trifecta” (President, House, and Senate) twice: 1992 and 2008. These victories were followed by landslide losses for the Blue Team in 1994 and 2010. I still remember the excitement following Obama's historic win in 2008 that coincided with massive Democratic gains in the House of Representatives and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. The progressive reforms that so many of us were hungry for seem to be within reach.

Almost overnight, “yes, we can” became “no, we can't”. Obama's naive efforts to work alongside obstructionist Republicans along with opposition from the conservative “blue dogs” within his own party dashed all hopes of genuine fundamental change. Over the next four election cycles, at all levels of government, the Democrats were punished at the polls for their failure to deliver on their promises. In the end, 2008 proved to be a very temporary setback for Republicans and the conservative agenda.

Fast forward to today where Democrats are in striking distance of once again winning the trifecta, with control of the Senate in the hands of the voters of Georgia. Current polls suggest that the Democrats may very well win both seats.

You would think the GOP would be fighting tooth and nail to defend these seats and prevent Democrats from winning a majority in the Senate. Instead, they're sending very mixed messages. Some despondent and disillusioned Trumpers, unable to accept the results of the presidential election, have called for an outright boycott of the Senate races. Trump's efforts to “help” incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler seem to be geared towards enriching himself. Lin Wood, one of Trump’s most rabid supporters, has even called for Perdue’s and Loeffler’s arrest. In addition, Trump’s recent veto of the defense budget puts both of these Republicans between a rock and a hard place. Overriding Trump's veto could foster backlash from Georgia Trumpers who value loyalty to Trump above all else, and whose votes Perdue and Loeffler desperately need. But, by “standing with Trump” they could risk being perceived by voters as not caring about our troops. Also, the debacle created by Trump’s last-minute demand of $2,000 stimulus checks gave the Georgia Democratic candidates additional ammo to use against their opponents.

With all this in mind, let's entertain a “wild” idea:

What if the Republicans don't care if they lose the Senate?

At first, this may seem completely insane. After all, wouldn't it be better for Republicans to be in control of at least one chamber of Congress so they can block all of the “radical socialist” policies that Biden and the Dems will inflict upon the United States? In the short run, perhaps. But, anyone deeply entrenched in politics will tell you that the next election cycle begins the day after the previous election ends. While Trump may only be focused on 2024, you can be certain the GOP is looking at 2022. 

If Republicans hold the Senate and continue with their obstructionist strategies, they better have a counterattack in 2022 to “Biden tried to heal our country, but McConnell got in the way of everything.” While it's true that the party in power usually loses seats during midterms, it's also true that finger-pointing is highly effective in divided governments.

However, when one party wins the federal trifecta, the other party is practically blameless for anything that happens or doesn’t happen over the next 2 years. The Republicans should be fully cognizant of this phenomenon after winning full control in 2016 and then losing the House in 2018. In the “long-run” it may be better for the Republicans if the Democrats take control of the federal government for now and then the Republicans “strike back” in 2022.

You may say, “but then the Democrats can do whatever they want!” To some extent, this may happen, but there is no reason to believe that any sort of “radical socialist” agenda will be implemented under a Biden administration. Biden's political record is highly conservative for a Democrat. He doesn't support any of the left's “radical ideas” like Medicare for All or the Green New Deal. He notoriously stated during the 2020 campaign that nothing will fundamentally change, and he seems more than willing to work hand in hand with the Red Team. Combine this with the fact that the House and Senate Dems are still overwhelming centrist, and it appears that the Republicans, from a policy standpoint, don't really have much to fear. And, if Biden governs with the same centrist, “bipartisan” philosophy used by his “former boss”, the Democrats will likely suffer the same fate as they did in 2010. When you have control of everything, and you fail to deliver anything, who do you have to blame but yourself?

The notion of winning by losing is indeed paradoxical. However, if history is any indicator, then, even if the Republicans lose both Georgia Senate seats, such losses may prove to be just a temporary setback for them as in 2008. If the Democrats win control of the Senate, it behooves them to alter their strategies and their agenda. Biden's victory over Trump occurred in conjunction with a dozen centrist Dems losing their house seats. Thus, while U.S. voters summarily rejected fascism, they're not championing centrism as a long-term alternative.

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