Looking back for the last few years it is stunning to see how the Democrats squandered their power from the 2006-2008 victories. They misread their mandate and governed poorly; passing unpopular legislation using the most partisan means. The damage is far beyond the loss of the House.
The Republicans, dead in the water just a few years ago, swept state positions. These are the breeding grounds of the party’s future leaders and they are quickly rising to prominence. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Rick Scott of Florida, and Scott Walker of Wisconsin are showing the kind of leadership the public is craving. They are refusing to kick the problems to the next election, and they hold their own party accountable.
Freshman Congressmen Alan West, Marco Rubio, and others show a depth of understanding and a commitment to governing principles long forgotten. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley show great promise.
These rising starts are eclipsing the older icons such as Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.
The Republicans are building an incredibly strong bench of new leaders on the back of those largely ignored state level victories. While there are other names that will surely grow from those victories, note the names I omitted. This is an incredibly strong bench without Sarah Palin, and I omitted Michelle Bachman. Palin is the face of the Republicans that the opposition would prefer. To them she lacks intellectual heft and experience. To me Nancy Pelosi makes Sarah Palin look like a Rhodes Scholar.
Michelle Bachman is a great voice, but she is also associated with the perception of Tea Party simplicity (a misperception in my opinion).
With or without Palin or Bachman, the Republican are rapidly building leaders with intelligence, depth and experience. The Democrats, by comparison seem to have nobody in the wings. Looking past Obama and the Clintons, few capable leaders seem to be emerging. This is an incredible reversal in just two years. Their defeat in 2010 has deep long term implications for their party, depending on how the Republicans use their power this time.