It doesn’t matter if the Republicans win the Senate if they don’t actually limit government

As of this writing, wunderkind statistician Nate Silver puts the GOP chance of retaking control of the Senate in tomorrow’s midterm elections at 68.5 percent and trending upward. The New York Times model is similarly optimistic for Republicans, and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is so close to Senate Majority Leader that he’s probably daydreaming about it right now.

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Yes, the GOP is likely to win the Senate tomorrow. But if the Republican establishment keeps failing to live up to its limited government rhetoric, who cares?

Sure, many politicians in the Republican Party talk a good talk. The problem is that—for most of them—it’s nothing but talk.

Take foreign policy, for instance. The last six months have seemed like a competition between Republicans and Democrats over who can stoke more fear and which party is more eager for another war. The hysterical and exaggerated depictions of the threat posed by ISIS are not only completely wrong; they’re also a typical way Washington scares the public into accepting more big government.

But don’t forget the previous decade, either. Though our Nobel Peace Prize-winning President has started and renewed plenty of wars of his own, we can’t forget that it was a Republican, George W. Bush, who launched this round of wasteful, endless foreign policy with devastating human and financial costs.

How is our costly foreign policy going to change with a Republican-controlled Senate?

How will spending and debt change? Many Republicans like to say that Democrats are irresponsible and spend way too much borrowed money. They’re absolutely right. The national debt has spiked under Obama, but you know what? We didn’t get to nearly $18 trillion of debt and counting just because of Democrats. Debt is a bipartisan issue.

The Republican establishment likes to talk about supporting “historic” cuts and slashing government spending, but somehow the debt still increases. The GOP has controlled the House for almost 20 years straight—you know, the part of government which the Constitution says holds the power of the purse—but our debt still goes up. And up. And up…

So much so that from October 27, 2014 through the end of the year, every dime Washington spends will be a dime it can’t afford.

How is out-of-control spending going to change with a Republican-controlled Senate?

Or what about individual rights? Establishment Republicans like Sen. John McCain have agreed with Democrats that it’s ok for our government to assassinate 16-year-old kids who aren’t charged with any crime.

Or what about abuses of authority? President Obama has been awful about this, but historically, some Republican Presidents have been even worse.

Or what about all the other miscellaneous and multiplying abuses of liberty which seem to touch almost every aspect of our lives? How is the TSA groping us at the airport going to change with a Republican-controlled Senate? How is the NSA monitoring all our private communications going to change with a Republican-controlled Senate? How is the failed and abusive drug war going to change with a Republican-controlled Senate?

Perhaps the single biggest hope for this new Senate majority is the repeal of Obamacare—but soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has all but conceded defeat on that front. Without the supermajority needed to override a presidential veto of any repeal bill (and a supermajority is basically an impossible outcome of Tuesday’s vote), there is no real chance that the new Senate will axe Obama’s health care law.

Though McConnell may still pay a little lip-service to the idea, it appears that his highest hopes are to “repeal the law’s tax on medical devices — which a number of Democratic senators already support — and to narrow its mandate on which workers must be covered.”

In other words, he’d do one thing which would probably happen anyway, and do little to change the employer mandate which has been so frequently linked to loss of jobs and damage to businesses.

So, again: What’s going to change after tomorrow?

What concrete difference will we see in our lives because there are more Rs than Ds on the Hill?

What liberties will be better-protected?

What specific abuse of government will decrease?

I don’t mean to sound overly jaded. There are a handful of people in Congress—notably Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)—who to one degree or another have offered a real alternative to the big government consensus of the bipartisan establishment. If Republican control of the Senate gives them slightly more say-so, great.

But given the Republican leadership’s historically frosty treatment of these liberty-friendly congressmen, this Senate win instead seems likely to produce more of the same: More irresponsible spending. More aimless war. More reckless, feckless government all around.

I hope I’m wrong about all this. But I’m not holding my breath.

What do you think?

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