Wielding the gavels in 2013

George Will authored a piece this weekend encouraging Republicans to focus more on wielding gavels in both chambers of Congress in 2013, than trying in vein to win back the White House.  Though many republican cheerleaders take offense to the idea that any of the remaining four cannot beat Obama, at this point, it might not be the worst strategy.  Realizing that we still have an eternity left in politics until November and that things could change, it still may be time to look towards a more attainable goal.

Will essentially suggests that Republicans focus on winning back the Senate in November.  This is the paramount goal.  Obviously, an Obama presidency is rendered impotent without either House of Congress.  And thus, while it may not be as sexy, the Senate Races are where we should be focused.

I have no doubt that the GOP will hold the House in large numbers, even if they do experience a few casualties.  But the GOP is now in the midst of throwing away a golden opportunity to take back the Senate.  That is what has everyone worried.

Consider the Cook Political Report that is predicting that Democrats will hold the Senate with 51 Seats.  Not long ago this seemed impossible.  But as we see republican campaigns stumbling and Obama’s numbers rising, conservatives need  to be serious about what an uphill battle they are looking at.  Political spin isn’t going to change the numbers.

Obviously, the retirement of Olympia Snowe (R-ME) couldn’t have come at a worst time.  But we still have hope to take back the Senate with nine “toss up” seats that are essentially wide open.  Money well spent and campaigns intelligently run could do the trick.  States like Alaska, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Virginia could very well go Democrat, but they don’t have to.

Realistically, there are two reasons to control the Congress:  Building a firewall against Obama and forcing him to join our agenda.

First, a Republican controlled House and Senate will effectively stop Obama in his tracks.  There will be no major environmental laws passed.  The Supreme Court in and of itself is reason enough to focus on taking back the Senate.  Replacing Scalia with an Obama nominee could be disastrous for a generation of Americans.  But a republican-controlled Senate could assure, assuming it possessed the will, a moderate appointee — it could even stall court appointments until 2016 where necessary.

The biggest reason to hold the Congress is clearly “Obamacare.”  If Obama is to win a second term, a Congress willing to defund his signature policy achievement could come in very handy in postponing repeal until January 2017.

On the other hand, a Republican legislature could force Obama to choose between a four year lame-duck session and a reasonable domestic policy.  Conservatives could force him into a conservative approach on immigration reform and debt reduction.  There is a moderate way forward on many issues we hold dear.  During the end of the next presidential term, America could face a Greece-type-default.  Obama doesn’t want to go down as the greatest failure any more than anyone else.

Debt reduction is the only common sense way to keep our credit ratings and keep the dollar strong.

No one should advocate leaving our presidential nominee on the field taking grenades, but we need to be smart, pick our battles and realize that we only have one shot to ensure healthcare isn’t enacted and to protect the Courts.  We need to think strategically rather than emotionally.  Focusing on the White House and the Senate are not mutually exclusive.  Focusing on the Senate doesn’t mean we leave the GOP candidate out in the cold.  But we need to have a “Plan A” and a “Plan B” and we need to put more eggs in the Plan A basket.