Republicans Should Watch What They Wish For

Don't they need conservative Democrats like Mike McIntyre?

By + More

The old expression, “be careful what you wish for because it might come true,” applies to Republicans this year.

Heaven knows the Democrats in Congress have done nothing short of a disastrous job. President Obama is not so much the problem as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. How would either of them survive if they had to walk a mile in the shoes of a grandmother in Baltimore (where Pelosi was born and raised) or a grandfather in Searchlight, Nevada? My guess is not well.

The only good provision in the healthcare law is the extension of insurance to children until they are 26. Everything else is bound to make the system a nightmare. Instead of really trying to improve the economy (and not just repeating the anthem that its Bush’s fault--he’s been gone two years), the Senate in its closing arguments before the election debated “don’t ask, don’t tell.” This is not to say DADT is not an important issue, but it’s unlikely to be a top concern (or even near the top) of the average voter worried about underwater mortgages and unemployment.

Republicans nationwide are bursting with enthusiasm about their prospects. Democrats like House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank of Massachusetts have a race for the first time, ever. But so does Rep. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina. Recent polls show him tied with Republican challenger Ilario Pantano. National Journal had a good synopsis of the race.

McIntyre is a pro-defense, pro-life, fiscally conservative Democrat. Not to mention one of the most sincere members of Congress to currently serve. If he ran as a Democrat in virtually any other district in America, he would lose--big. While John McCain carried the conservative southeastern district with 52 percent of the vote, McIntyre easily won with 69 percent. He ranks third on the House Agriculture Committee and also serves on the House Armed Services Committee.

But he votes for Pelosi and she sets the agenda, so Republicans have targeted him. What happens if he loses, but Republicans fail to capture the House? And if they win, wouldn’t it be nice to have a moderate Democrat who would likely support a fair amount of the Republican agenda around, so Republicans could be bipartisan in a way Democrats never were, or even tried to be?

Pantano has many strong qualities but perhaps should wait until McIntyre is ready to step aside. He still has work to do and has done an admirable job representing a district that is not as sexy as Charlotte or Raleigh.

While some members come to Washington to get ahead, to see and be seen, McIntyre would rather talk about the Lumbee Indian Tribe and their endless quest for full federal recognition. He is the type of member who literally can talk your ear off about the district he represents but never seeks the microphone or camera. He actually apologizes when he is late. Imagine that, a congressman who apologizes and means it.

“Throw the bums out!” is a laudable cry and, sometimes, a worthwhile aim, but McIntyre is not one of the bums. There are Republicans from North Carolina I wouldn’t vote for if they were running for dog catcher, but I would trust McIntyre to watch my son. And right now, as the country tries to right itself from the worst economic collapse in generations and fight a war half a world away, we need people we can trust in Washington.

  • Check out our editorial cartoons on the Democrats.
  • See who is donating to your member of Congress.
  • See a slide show of 5 key issues in the 2010 elections.