Why '10 Isn't Like '94 -- Yet

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My thesis here is that Republicans in 1994 weren't seen as obstructionists and had a better foundation upon which to erect a platform that became the Contract with America. (I do think the Contract's own role in '94 has been overstated; it's easy for us amateur historians to hang on to one factor and say that it drove an election cycle.) The GOP leadership in '10 has the ideas of the GOP leadership of '02. And those ideas aren't popular. And there isn't an organized framework to rally around. GOP strategists are relying on the bad will Americans have for the in-party. An architect of the 1994 GOP takeover, Joe Gaylord, thinks that's a mistake. Writing in the Ripon Forum, Gaylord notes that the GOP governors who won -- and Scott Brown, the new Mass. Senator -- are different.

In 2010, the GOP has not done as well in convincing non-Republicans that it has alternative solutions to the radical proposals of Barack, Nancy and Harry.  In the Massachusetts Senate race, Scott Brown gave us a good example.  He made clear that he'd be the 41st vote against Obamacare, but he also said, "We can go back to the drawing board and do it better."

(I think Gaylord is conflating some things here; Brown didn't run on a platform; he ran on an image; he supports the template for Obama-care while opposing Obama-care itself.)

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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