Will 2008 Be A Re-Aligning Year? Part V of V

Part I can be found here

Part II can be found here

Part III can be found here

Part IV can be found here

Part V can be found here

Which brings me to the final theory of re-alignment: that the country has undergone a shift to the left, that progressivism is on the rise, and that conservatism has finally been consigned to the dustbin of history. [NOTE: Large parts of this appeared in a post that I authored long ago for Race42008.com]

I think that the strength of this argument is at least somewhat reduced by the fact that the 2008 map resembles the 2004 map so strongly. We don’t see any part of the conservative coalition breaking off and moving closer to the Democrats, as we did with the progressive Northwest and upper Midwest against the Republicans in the 1920s, or with the South and Mountain West against the Democrats in the 1930s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. Instead, relatively speaking, the red states have become redder and the blue states are bluer. If anything, this represents a deepening of the underlying alignment, rather than a re-making of it.


What we are probably seeing today is not a right that is dead, but rather two things: a right that is exhausted after holding power for six years in very trying times, and a right that has comparatively receded from the successes of 2002 and 1994, but that is still fairly healthy.


I say “probably,” and that is my very important caveat at the outset of this. We may well be seeing the dawn of a new leftward lurch in this country. Voters who remember the results of liberal excess in the 1970s grow increasingly few and far between. Most voters don’t recall that the scandals which engulfed the GOP Congress were preceded by similar scandals that plagued Democrats for most of the 80s and early 90s; how many people today remember that the Democratic Speaker and Majority Whip both resigned as a result of separate ethical scandals in the 101st Congress? As the culture wars of the 60s and 70s recede, as whites begin to move back into urban cores, as globalization continues its march, we may see a resurgence of pro-government mentality in the United States. I don’t purport to have a crystal ball. I just don’t think the arguments for a fundamental shift in the center-right alignment of this country hold water.


Loss of Congress and Presidency


Let’s start by looking at the immediate source of stress for GOPers: The loss of Congress after twelve years, the likely continued loss of seats, and the likely loss of the Presidency. But at least part of the GOP’s present problem is an almost-inevitable outcome of six years of one-party rule (setting aside the brief Daschle interregnum in the Senate, where Republicans still ran the show with the post-911 issue agenda).


Since FDR constructed the New Deal coalition in the 1930s, no President has ever enjoyed eight years of rule with a Congress of the same party; indeed, in the past sixty years, no party other than the GOP of 2000, 2002, and 2004 and the Democrats of 1960, ’62, ’64 (and ’66) has had control of Congress and the Presidency handed to them in three consecutive elections. Even FDR is not a huge exception to this rule – as we discussed earlier, the New Deal was effectively dead after the 1938 elections, when anti-New Dealers took over Congress and ran it for the next 20 years. And while the GOP did not take over Congress in 1942, it won the “popular vote” for Congress, 52-48.


Moreover, every President since Teddy Roosevelt has left office with fewer seats in the Congress than he had on the day he was sworn in. Bush lost a net of 19 seats over the course of his Presidency. This compares especially favorably to previous two-term Presidents: Clinton lost 47 seats over his two terms, Reagan lost 16, Nixon/Ford lost 48, Ike lost 70, Truman lost 7, and Wilson lost 51. Even the great FDR left his successor with 71 fewer seats than he had when he first entered the oval office, and likely would have lost well over 100 net seats had he survived through 1946.


And winning the third consecutive term is extremely difficult: Only Reagan, FDR, and Harding/Coolidge managed that in the past century. Republicans are supposed to lose in 2008.


This, of course, is largely compounded by retirements, which are disproportionately affecting the Republicans this cycle (little known fact: Had Democrats better controlled their retirements in 1996, they likely would have won back Congress). Right now, the Rothenberg Report House ratings are grim, with 41 Republican seats in play, versus only 22 Democratic seats. But if one takes out the “unforced retirements” (eg not including Fossella, Renzi), and assume that most incumbents who won in a year like 2006 would be able to win in 2008 (again, assuming no scandals), you end up with much more parity: about 26 vulnerable Republicans to 20 vulnerable Democrats. Now incumbents like Walsh and Davis would still have had tough re-elections, but their seats wouldn’t be favored for takeovers.


The same is true in the Senate. Right now, Democrats are probably poised to pick up five or so seats. But unlike 2006, this isn’t because they are poised to take out large numbers of incumbents. Of the six Republican seats listed as tossup, leaning Democratic, or likely Democratic, two would be solidly Republican but for retirements (VA and OR). A third, Stevens, would be safe but for criminality. And a fourth (Coleman) is, I think, not particularly vulnerable. Remove those seats, and it is actually possible to envision a straight-faced scenario whereby the Republican win back the Senate. The likely continued GOP losses owe more to circumstance that they do to the unpopularity of the Republican brand.


It is nearly impossible to go through eight years of a Presidency without a recession, war, major scandal, or policy overreach. These tend to tarnish a party’s image. Bush has dealt with all four; it is quite frankly amazing that more damage has not been done to the Republican brand. The bottom line though, is that Republicans losing Congress in 2006 wasn’t historic. Indeed, by historical standards it was a fairly mild tsunami that washed up on the shores. What would have been historic would have been Republicans had kept control of the House, and it will be historic if they keep the Presidency.


In other words, there is only shaky evidence of a re-alignment based on the election of 2006, and the size of GOP losses in 2008.


The Democrats of 2006


There is even less evidence of a re-alignment in the country when one considers who won in 2006. Had the country really made a sharp detour to the left, one would expect to see a true swing in the makeup of Congress.


But, as liberals like Glenn Greenwald are learning the hard way, that didn’t occur. Instead, what generally happened in 2006 was that conservative Republicans were replaced by blue dogs, moderate Republicans were replaced by New Democrats, and liberal Republicans were replaced by liberal Democrats.


Take a look at the Poole-Rosenthal rank order for the 110th Congress after the close of the first session. It mentions the new members of the caucus. Note how around 176 we begin to see a cluster of ‘new’ members?


Being the 176th most liberal Democrat means that there are only 60 Democrats to your right – about a quarter of the caucus. There are twenty-one new Democrats in that leftmost quarter. BUT, only nine of those Democrats replaced Republicans at the end of the last Congress, meaning that of the 30 pickups Democrats executed in 2006, 2/3 of them fell in the most conservative clump of the Democratic caucus. In other words, Democrats won in 2006 by running relatively conservative Democrats in conservative districts.


And let’s examine those relatively liberal Democrats who won. They are: Loebsack, Hodes, Yarmuth, Shea-Porter, Arcuri, Murphy, Courtney, Hall, and Sestak. The PVI for their districts are, respectively, D+7, D+3, D+2, EVEN, R+1, D+4, D+8, R+1, and D+3. And where did the Republicans that they replaced fall on the “liberal scale” for the 109th Congress? Numbers 206, 215, 285, 216, 218, 213, 211, 219, and 222.


In other words, these liberal Democrats were elected from already Democratic-leaning districts that elected relatively liberal Republicans to Congress. Indeed, setting aside Hodes’ replacement of moderately conservative Anne Northup, these liberal Democrats replaced the 2nd, 7th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 15th, and 18th most liberal Republicans in the caucus. An ideological sea-change this is not. And note that at least one of the two Democrats elected from Republican-leaning districts above is likely not long for Congress (Shea-Porter has trailed in the two most recent polls).


The Democrats’ greatest strength is that they are a wide-ranging, ideologically heterodox coalition that can win in all but the most conservative districts in the country. This has always been the case. It is why, even at the height of the Republican surge in the 1990s, Democrats continued to win Republican-leaning open seats in the South, and even defeated a few Republican incumbents along the way. It’s also their curse, because once in power, they have to please incumbents from Maxine Waters to Gene Taylor. That is not an easy task. Regardless, this is why, say, Travis Childers’ replacement of Roger Wicker in Congress doesn’t mark a seachange in the country. Unless there is some indication that the underlying issue agenda for the country has changed, it seems unlikely that a re-alignment is under way.


Issue Agenda


But what about the issue agenda? Has that swung so far to the left that the country is fundamentally different than it was in the Reagan years?


These things are difficult to measure, because a lot has to do with how you ask the question. Charlie Cook recently wrote:


Just as ominous for Republicans is the shift in public opinion, moving away from the laissez faire message that the party has long embraced and toward a somewhat more activist view of government. When the poll asked which statement came closer to respondents’ views, 53 percent chose "government should do more to solve problems and help meet the needs of people," compared with 42 percent that preferred "government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals."


But Gallup asked these questions differently and got very different results. For example, Gallup finds that “Americans overwhelmingly — by 84% to 13% — prefer that the government focus on improving overall economic conditions and the jobs situation in the United States as opposed to taking steps to distribute wealth more evenly among Americans.” Similarly, half of the people surveyed by Gallup believed that government was doing too many things that should be left to individuals and business, while only 43% believed that the government should do more to solve the country’s problems.”


Looking at Rasmussen’s questions, we learn that majority of Americans believe that majorities of Americans see tax increases as bad for the economy, only a plurality agrees that they would vote for a candidate who raised taxes only on the rich, and majorities think tax cuts help the economy. 52% believe that the federal government does not need more revenue, and 57% believe in submitting all tax increases to the voters.


The best way to look at this, then, is to find a polling company that has been around for a good long while, and compare its answers today to what they were two decades ago. The Pew Poll provides this. Looking over the whole poll, some questions show dramatic shifts against the GOP. Some show no change in the long run, but show short-term trends against the GOP. Some have given almost the exact same result year in and year our. So I propose to give my results for all the poll questions where I have data going back to 1987.


It is true that general attitudes have shifted toward Democrats on many issues since 1994, and on foreign policy issues since 2002. But those are poor years to choose as baselines. 2002 obviously saw a spike in hawkish sentiment, given the recency of 9-11 (indeed, there was a similar spike in 1990, the year of the Gulf War). 1994 represents a spike in conservative orientation on many issues, precipitated by the fumbling liberalism of the first half of the first Clinton term. In other words, conservatives benefitted from many of the same things that liberals benefitted from in 2006, namely, the other side was in charge. When things went wrong, as it inevitably did, the blame fell entirely on the other side. But, once conservatives shared power, they began to make their own missteps, and take their own share. I think the same thing is beginning to happen with liberals in charge of part of Congress, and expect this to accelerate if they take over in 2008.


To look at it in a different way, in 2002, only 48% of people surveyed thought that government regulation of business does more harm than good. Today it is 57%. One could posit that society is becoming more libertarian. The better conclusion, though, is to recognize that 2002 marked a spike in distrust of business, due to Enron and other corporate accounting debacles. Sure enough, the answer to this question was identical in 2007 as it was in 1987.


Similarly, someone looking at the Pew data in 1990 – again, four years before a very good year for conservatives – would see that 80% agreed that the rich got richer and the poor got poorer, a spike of 6 points from 1987. But that turned out to be a spike, probably due to the recession. The number today is 73%, one point lower than it was in 1987.


To avoid this problem, I compared every question for which there was available data from 1987. I chose 1987 because (a) it is the oldest of the data and (b) it was a relatively “normal” year – after good Dem year in 1986, but before a big Republican victory in 1988. In other words, it seemed unlikely to be very much affected by short-term events. I’ve summarized the questions in the table below, along with the affirmative answer in 1987 and the affirmative answer in 2007. I follow with the net change in what is the "conservative" answer, though some times it is difficult to assign a "conservative " answer:


Most elected officials care what people like me think 47% 34% +13%
The government is really run for the benefit of all the people 57% 45% +12%
There needs to be stricter laws and regulations to protect the environment (90% in 1992)   83% +7%
Voting gives people like me some say about how government runs things 78% 71% +7%
There are clear guidelines about what’s good and evil that apply to everyone 34% 39% +5%
People like me don’t have any say about what the government does 52% 48% +4%
Prayer is an important part of my daily life (change in "completely agree") 76% 78% +2%
Government should take care of those who can’t take care of themselves 71% 69% +2%
Rich just get richer, poor get poorer 74% 73% +1%
Business Corporations make too much profit 65% 65% 0%
Government regulation of business does more harm than good 57?% 57% 0%
Government should help the needy even if it means greater debt 53% 54% -1%
When something is run by the government, it is usually inefficient and wasteful (decline in 2002) 63% 62% -1%
We should restrict and control people coming into our country to live more than we do now. 76% 75% -1%
It is best for the future of our country to be active in world affairs 87% 86% -1%
We will all be called before God at the Judgment Day to answer for our sins 81% 79% -2%
We should try to get even with any country that tries to take advantage of the U.S. 42% 40% -2%
I have old fashioned values about family and marriage 45% 41% -4%
Books that contain dangerous ideas should be banned from public school libraries 50% 46% -4%
The strength of this country today is mostly based on the success of American business (largest gain in 18-29 group) 76% 72% -4%
Business corporations generally strike a fair balance between profits and the public interest 43% 38% -5%
In the past few years there hasn’t been much real improvement in the position of black people (peak in 1992) 36% 41% -5%
Best way to ensure peace is through military strength (spikes in 1989 and 2002) 54% 49% -5%
I never doubt the existence of God 88% 83% -5%
Women should return to their traditional roles in society (disagree) 66% 75% -9%
We should make every effort to improve the position of blacks and minorities, even if it means giving preferential treatment (decline among blacks) 24% 34% -10%
AIDS might be God’s punishment for immoral sexual behavior 43% 23% -20%
Women should return to their traditional roles in society (completely disagree) 29% 51% -22%
School boards should have the right to fire homosexual teachers 51% 28% -23%
I think its all right for blacks and whites to date each other 48% 83% -35%
Success in life is determined by forces outside our control (decline R/D, slight increase, indeps).   34%  
Host of corporations except Exxon and Halliburton above 70%.  Walmart at 71%      
"The police should be allowed to search the houses of people who might be sympathetic to terrorists without a court order — 37%      

In fact, the poll reveals attitudes that are not appreciably less conservative when measured against the heyday of the Reagan years in 1987 (save on gay rights and a few other issues, where conservatives are fighting a long-term losing battle). In fact, I’m not sure many of the questions that show more than a five-point decline are really “conservative” positions. Regardless, people aren’t more trustful of government to run things, and aren’t appreciably more sympathetic toward the poor. More people actually say prayer is a part of their daily life, and that they never doubt the existence of God. Looking the table over, most of the movement has been well within the margin of error of the result in 1987.


There are other interesting results which relate to my point about reading too much into spikes. The number of people who think that government is inherently inefficient and wasteful is roughly unchanged from 1987. There was a massive dropoff in 2002, though, which turned out to be a short-term spike in faith in government post 9-11. The number of people who think there has been little improvement in the lot of blacks has slightly increased, but it is down from 1992 – a spike caused by the LA riots. The “peace through strength” number is roughly unchanged, but it is way down from spikes in 1990 and 2002 – the years of the successful gulf war and the 9-11 response.


Interestingly, racial preferences have lost some appeal among blacks, even as support rises among whites. Only 34% believe that success in life is largely determined by forces outside of our control. And a host of corporations, from Johnson & Johnson to Coors to Wal-mart have approval ratings above 70%; the only ones below that are Halliburton (less than 50% have any opinion) and Exxon. If America really is, as DaveG’s once put it, disinclined “to allow the US to become a nation of WalMart employees” they sure seem to have a funny way of showing it.


Finally, for those who think that civil liberties is a winning issue for Democrats, consider this question: “The police should be allowed to search the houses of people who might be sympathetic to terrorists without a court order.”


37% said that this should be allowed. This is remarkable, given the question. Nearly two in five people think that (a) warrantless searches should be allowed (b) by the police, of (c) houses of people who are (d) sympathetic to terrorists. Granted, I am a libertarian-leaning Republican, but this is astounding to me. This is a widespread approval of a very draconian policy prescription. For those who think that warrantless wiretaps by spy agencies of telephones is going to rile independents up against Republicans, I’d think again.


On a different note, for those who believe that government-run health care is inevitable, a different poll shows that while 53% claim they are willing to pay higher taxes for health care, that is actually significantly lower than the 66% who responded affirmatively in 1993, shortly before HillaryCare crashed and burned. The same report notes that more people today believe that holding the line on taxes is more important than providing coverage for all than believed it in good GOP years like 1999 or 2003. (It’s also worth noting a little-known secret: Most Americans are satisfied with the health care that they receive; they just think everyone else is dissatisfied with theirs).


The bottom line is that the evidence shows that pro-conservative views are down from 1994 and 2002 – two very good Republican years – but are still around the level that they were in 1987. In other words, after six years of a pretty good Democratic President and eight years of an incompetent Republican President, public attitudes are all the way back to where they were in the seventh year of the best conservative President possibly ever. That doesn’t strike me as bad news. In fact, again, given what Dubya has dealt with, and how he’s dealt with it, I’m actually surprised it isn’t worse.


The Emerging Democratic Majority


Now, it is possible that the trendlines are going to continue to decline for Republicans, given demographic and economic shifts. This strikes me as unlikely, except perhaps on the social issues, given that most of the trendlines are established from 1994, and most of the pro-Democrat trendlines have actually leveled off in the past few years after coming off of their post-1994 and 2002 peaks. But let’s look at the data here.


This analysis depends on demography for its predictions, in order to bolster its claim that Republicans are doomed as a younger generation ages, and as Hispanics become a larger part of the electorate. As Jay Cost has written here and here, one should beware supposed seers bearing deterministic theories of history. To make a legalistic argument, I incorporate by reference his posts in their entireity here, but you should go read them. They’re almost as long as this piece, but are well worth the time.


I have a few additional thoughts. I think Cost’s point about the difficulty in predicting future events is especially important. Who in 1974 would have predicted a GOP landslide in 1980? Who in 1928 would have predicted Democratic dominance beginning in two years? What objective observers expected Democrats to essentially cede the gun control issue after 2000, or to make gains on the national security issue after 2004? And do you remember all that talk about how the 100 fastest growing counties in 2004 all voted for Bush, and how that meant Dems were doomed for the next twenty years?


Even in specifics, I am skeptical. For one thing, Hispanics and blacks are among the most culturally conservative segment in society. If the Democrats are really going to rely upon them, it seems likely that they will have to shift rightward. We see this in the younger generation of African-American leadership (e.g., Harold Ford, Jr.), which tend to be more heterodox than their Civil Rights era forebearers. Indeed, the growth of heavily Catholic Hispanics might reverse the decline in the salience of social conservatism.


Moreover, as Cost points out, someone looking at the data in 2004 would expect that Hispanics had shifted strongly toward Republicans, especially from 1996 when Rs got all of 20% of the Hispanic vote. The party’s stance on immigration reform probably is a short-term step back; it remains to be seen whether a hardline stance on illegal immigration drives Hispanics away in droves. And an often-overlooked fact is that blacks are one of the few groups where Republicans did about as well in 2006 as they did in 2004, and they actually did better than they did in 2000.


Finally, the youth vote. I am skeptical of polls of the “18-29” demographic, or worse, “18-34.” This poll group includes everything from high school students to partners in major law firms. In turn, this makes it difficult to interpret the importance of shifts from Republicans; if the shift towards the Democrats comes across the group as a whole, or from the older cohort, it is bad for Republicans. If the shift is coming from high school and college students, views have not yet hardened, and an incompetent Democratic Administration (and most Administrations, regardless of party, are incompetent) can go a long way toward reversing that outcome. Regardless, this is mostly a replacement action that won’t affect Republicans for a while – the most heavily Democratic age cohort, the New Deal generation – is steadily growing smaller as they die off. Given that the most likely to vote in this country by far is still the older people, Republicans can look forward to the number of good Democratic voters who are most likely to vote dropping off, while the most Republican generation becomes more-and-more likely to vote. In other words, in the short-to-medium term, I’d much rather have an edge in the 35-65 demographic than dominate the 18-34 demographic.


Remember, right now, Democrats are still branded in the minds of most voters under 40 as the party that oversaw the wonder years that were the 90s. They governed by a moderate Demcorat who governed as an Eisenhower conservative in a time of apparent peace and prosperity. This was followed by a conservative President who governed as a nincompoop in a time of war and financial turmoil. Again, one wonders how the Democrats fail to have a larger edge right now.


That does not mean that they will have the edge tomorrow. And it certainly does not mean that they will have the edge after two years of governing by a President who based his campaign on a rejection of Clintonism. Or by a trio (Obama, Pelosi, Reid) of Democrats whose average ACU for 2007 was two.




Re-alignments are something that rarely occur, and when they occur, they occur over the long-term. They do not happen immediately. The concept of a re-aligning election is therefore an inherently flawed one.


Moreover, when re-alignment do occur, they occur because the majority party fails to adjust to a change going on in America. The Federalists failed to appreciate that America was not yet truly a nation of shopkeepers, but rather was primarily agrarian. The Whigs, and then the Democrats, could not deal with the emerging consensus in the North on the slavery question. The Democrats further injured themselves in the 1890s by aligning themselves with farmers, a dying breed in America. In 1932, Republicans had trouble adjusting to a new, industrial America, and paid a long-term political price.


There are some possible bases for re-alignment here. First, there is the possibility that Republicans are finding themselves unable to deal with an increasingly relativistic, postmodern society, where religion and traditions are devalued. I think this is probably the case to some degree, but the answer to that is that the GOP no longer takes stances on social issues that it took twenty years ago; when the Supreme Court legalized sodomy in seven states, there was some grumbling about activism, but no constitutional amendments were introduced to overrule the decision. In other words, the GOP does adapt on social issues; indeed its mere adaptability, rather than rushing along with the latest fad, is what defines conservatism, when you come right down to it.


Second, and as a stronger criticism, perhaps the GOP isn’t particularly well suited for the information age, much as it had difficulty adapting to the industrial age. Certainly the Left’s present advantages online speak to this, but this is probably more a function of the Left’s being out-of-power for the past eight years; after all the right owned the online space during the 1990s.


Plus, the GOP offers more of an information age agenda than the Democrats. Things like private accounts for social security, school choice, MSAs – these are far more appropriate for an interconnected information age than is a 1930s-style pension plan, centralized schools, and socialized medicine.


In the end, what is going on is that most of the goals that conservatives set out to accomplish three or four decades ago are complete. The days of 70-percent tax rates are over; when even liberal Democrats can’t stomach an explicit top tax rate over 40-percent, conservatives have won the debate on that issue. The median Supreme Court Justice is now the center-right Anthony Kennedy. Those who remember what the average SCOTUS Justice looked like during the days of the Warren Court (hint – William Brennan was the swing vote in 1968) can appreciate the seismic shift this has meant for our nation’s jurisprudence. Welfare was reformed; a Democratic president proclaimed the end to the era of big government. And the major foreign policy issue that conservatives had assembled around, the destruction of Communism, was accomplished.


If this is the case, then why in God’s name is conservatism as we know it dead? If we aren’t going back to 70% marginal rates, or even (probably) 50% rates, how are we in trouble? Reagan’s first tax cuts cut the top rate to 50%. We don’t seem eager to roll back welfare reform and undertake more transfer payments; instead we seem to be (if anything) adopting a greater governmental role in helping people get health insurance, or prepare for their education. This is not wealth redistribution or transfer payments, this is essentially investment in infrastructure, and fits more within Reagan’s framework than Roosevelt’s (or Johnson’s) (remember the short-lived catastrophic health insurance plan that Reagan signed?). Obviously, the devil is in the details, but if government guarantees health care for those who can’t afford it within a Massachusetts-style, market oriented framework, I don’t consider that a loss; remember, none of the Democrats talked about a single-payer type system this cycle. Indeed, re-regulation or nationalization of industries is out, and we are a very, very, very long way from the planned economy that seemed inevitable to observers in the 1930s.


Even on social issues, conservatives have won. By conservatives, I mean conservatives, and not the religious right, a more rigid minority in the Republican party to whom the following doesn’t apply. The goal of a conservative is not to ensure that society never changes. It is to ensure that changes are made deliberately, through evolution, rather than revolution, to ensure that the changes we make are wise ones. Over the past forty years, we have accepted that society is better off if women are allowed to work. We haven’t, however, adopted comparative worth theories of compensation, or other radical, unworkable theories favored by the feminist left. We’ve become gradually more tolerant of gays, and may well decide that gay marriage is okay. But that decision will only come after decades of discussion, in large part thanks to conservative efforts to keep state Supreme Courts from declaring gay marriage a right


. We’ve increasingly accepted racial minorities, while rejecting some ideas such as bussing, and much in the way of racial preferences (probably moving toward a more class-based system). Society has changed for the better in many ways in the past forty years, and conservatives have played a large role in ensuring that the changes we made were good ones. SoCons will continue that role as the slate of social issues continues to evolve.


I don’t wish to overstate my case. Issues may trend against the Republicans through a Democratic Administration. The young may foretell a leftward march. We’re closer to a liberal President and a filibuster-proof Democratic majority than I ever would have expected. But neither are things as bleak for Republicans as they’re made out to be, and an incompetent Obama Administration would go a long way toward restoring faith in the GOP. But with that, as with everything, only time will tell.

Part I can be found here

Part II can be found here

Part III can be found here

Part IV can be found here

Part V can be found here