Brendan Miniter, an assistant editor of OpinionJournal.com, makes an absurd claim in a column today:
Republicans were sent to Washington in the 1950s to repeal the New Deal. Voters sent them packing when it became clear they were big spenders. In the 1990s Republicans were sent to Washington to repeal the Great Society. If they too turn out to be big spenders, they can expect a similar fate.
Now, it may be true that conservatives wanted Republicans "to repeal the Great Society," but that was hardly the sentiment of the electorate as a whole, as we learned when the government shutdown backfired on Newt Gingrich and the supposed revolutionaries of the 104th Congress. And while I'm not an expert on 1950s politics, my sense is that the Republicans of the period were largely accomodationists who weren't "sent" to repeal the New Deal either.
Miniter is also peddling a simplistic dichotomy between "big spenders" and repealing the New Deal/Great Society in which those who fail to do the latter must be the former. That's ridiculous, and it's equally ridiculous to suggest that voters are going to punish members of Congress for failing to take us back to the 19th century. There's simply no popular support for rolling back the New Deal or Great Society. That said, however, the GOP is discovering that its big spending ways can be politically damaging, especially when they are seen as corrupt and hypocritical.