The upside for them is a 1980 like "mandate" for change in a direction that I fear. And we know that an all GOP Congress will act in lock-step like they did in Wisconsin (and unlike the Dem congress of 2009).
The lowest downside I see for them is that the GOP loses in 2012. But that's really only the short term.
Even while losing in 2012, they will be pushing hard on moving the Overton Window to the right. They get a high profile, public forum for debating their beliefs and an articulate, young, good looking new leader to do the pushing.
It might still lose them this election, maybe even in an electorally wide margin. But it will strengthen the GOP base and could change the course of the public conversation for years to come.
It seems to happen all the time. Each time we debate a GOP policy for change Or maybe anyone's new idea for a forward (good or bad) plan change... the public gets more exposed to the new idea and gets acclimated to the idea of that sort of a change. As I write this, I realize that's what happened to gay marriage over the decades.
And will likely also happen with the GOP economic policies. They have always thought about their movement in these terms. It's why Walker went all-in in Wisconsin and will now be a major party player in the GOP for years to come. The stakes are enormous, but more so in the long term.
Dems need to realize why the GOP is doing what it's doing now. And not get sucked into the short term thinking that this Ryan pick ensures a victory in November. Even if it becomes true this year. Even with a big victory for Obama.
We need to learn from the GOP/conservative strategy and focus on the long game and not just the short game.
It's what we do with economic policy, but it seems like that doesn't often translate into our political mentality.
We need to be committed to changing the national dialogue around our issues. We need to move the Overton Window to the left so that our leadership have the political freedom to move the policies there when the timing is right.
We are doing that with gay marriage. We are doing it with healthcare policy. But we cry about the failure to achieve more in those battles than we do celebrate the moving of the window in our favor.
We should see this pick more as a reflection of the GOP making an aggressive move in the battle over the Overton Window. We need to make a 10, 50, 100 year commitment to seeing our politics through the lens of the Overton Window.
And celebrate victories, no matter how big or small they seem, when they move it in our favor. That success translates into momentum.