"When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body." This is often restated as: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."
That physical law is one you also see in politics. In the political world success begets failure; failure begets success. The 1980 Reagan landslide led to defeat for the Republicans two years later. The 1992 win by Bill Clinton, led to the Democrats losing the House for the first time in decades in 1994. Obama's win in 2008 and 2012 led to Republicans winning big victories in 2010 and 2014.
|Governor Mike Pence|
In politics, when Side A wins a battle, it relaxes while Side B organizes and, motivated, wins the next battle. Then B relaxes and Side A, motivated by its loss, wins. This happens nonstop in politics. While unlike physics, the reaction is not "equal" it nevertheless is usually somewhat proportional. The bigger the victory the bigger the opponents' victory is likely to be the next time.
Which leads to this week's Religious Freedom Restoration Act debate. Religious conservatives were ambushed by Freedom Indiana and its allies who at the last minute engaged in the worst sort of misinformation campaign about the law, falsely labeling it as a "license to discriminate" and encouraging their corporate partners to issue phony extortion threats. While Freedom Indiana lost the legislative fight as Governor Mike Pence signed RFRA into law, the organization won a huge public relations battle. Given the RFRA is completely irrelevant to LGBT rights, one has to wonder if Freedom Indiana's true motivation was to gin up a controversy to drive contributions to pay its undoubtedly growing payroll.
The action-reaction model is why a winning side in politics should always act with graciousness and humility. Never kick opponents when they are down, never torment them, never engage in name calling, never ridicule them. Doing any of that ensures that the reaction, i.e. retribution, when it comes...and it will come, will be much greater. That's a lesson Freedom Indiana leaders do not seem to understand. There will be consequences for the organization having engaged in one of the most vile, hate-filled political campaigns this state has ever witnessed. Freedom Indiana grossly
After Freedom Indiana's PR ambush, religious conservatives, as well as their other conservative allies, are not going to retreat and fly the surrender flag, sheepishly asking how they can make the other side happy so they won't be treated so mean next time around. They are going to regroup, organize better and smarter... and go on the offensive. Freedom Indiana's guerrilla attack helped the organization win a battle, but religious conservatives are a much larger and more experienced political force. Attacking religion and people of faith is not smart politics.
Does that mean Republicans will win more state legislative seats in 2016? Given the limits of gerrymandering, that would pretty much be impossible as the GOP has pretty maxed out its possible gains. But with religious types and other conservatives re-energized by Freedom Indiana's foolishly over-the-top tactics, 2016 is likely to be a good year for Republican state-wide candidates, including Governor Pence and the party's nominee for U.S. Senate. While Governor Pence entered the RFRA debate having lost conservative support and facing possible re-election defeat, his steadfast support for the RFRA increases the possibility he can ride a re-energized conservative base to re-election.