Commentary by James H. Shott
Just how important was last week’s election? Well, a list of the damage includes Republicans picking up at least 63 seats in the House of Representatives, more than in any election since 1938, leaving Democrats with the smallest number in the House since 1946. Fifty incumbent Democratic congressmen lost their races, including 22 freshmen, nine senior Democrats with 18 years or more in office, and three committee chairs.
Republicans also gained six seats in the US Senate, narrowing the Democrat majority.
The North Carolina General Assembly went Republican for the first time since 1870, and the Alabama Legislature turned Republican for the first time since 1876.
The Maine and Minnesota Senates flipped to Republicans, and the Texas and Tennessee Houses went from virtually tied to large Republican gains.
Both houses of the Wisconsin and New Hampshire legislatures flipped to the GOP by wide margins, and Republicans won governorships in Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming, all of which currently are run by Democrats, and the GOP won 23 of the 37 contests for governor, and will control 29 of the country’s 50 statehouses.
All those who decried the public opinion polls that pretty consistently predicted this result will have trouble ignoring the strong anti-Democrat message of November 2. Despite this result, there are still those who recognize that voters were angry, but completely misunderstand why they were angry and at whom their anger was directed.
President Barack Obama correctly called it “a shellacking,” even though he misunderstood why it had occurred. Initially, he attributed the walloping to people not understanding all of the wonderful benefits of the health care takeover, cap and trade taxes that will raise the cost everything under the sun, and other big government measures because the administration just didn’t communicate effectively.
Others on the left offered reasons such as “slower than expected job growth,” and “the economy didn’t improve fast enough,” but those aren’t the reasons behind this ballot box revolution, they are symptoms of the faulty liberal policies of the Democrats, and those policies are why people are upset. They arise from the belief that government is the answer to all problems, but their failure proves the fallacy of that belief.
However, while this reality escapes the big government politicians in both major parties, the people realize big government not only has failed, but is highly undesirable, and they are fed up with the current incarnation of the federal government: its size, its out-of-control spending and its increasing intrusion into their lives.
"It's very clear that nationwide we have a movement … a mandate to make sure the federal government gets reversed in its growth. Not just slowed down, but completely changed out in a way that we have increased power to the [states],” according to Alaska Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller.
Clearly, voters gave the GOP as good an opportunity as it could hope for. But how many Republicans also failed to get the message that Democrats so plainly missed? Will Republican incumbents in Congress transform from establishment politicians into true servants of their constituents? Do they understand that voters told them to re-establish limited government principles; to undo dangerous liberal policies?
Florida Republican Marco Rubio, who defeated the Democrat Governor running as an independent and a Democrat candidate to win the Senate seat, gets it: “We make a great mistake if we believe somehow these results are an embrace of the Republican Party; what they are is a second chance. A second chance to be what Republicans said they were going to be not so long ago.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that “Republicans must take their responsibility to solve the problems of ordinary Americans,” and that saying “no” is not the answer. “It has to be ‘yes.’ Not our ‘yes,’ but a combined ‘yes,’ something we work out — a consensus ‘yes,’” he said.
Well, how magnanimously bipartisan of Mr. Reid. Had he been open to Republican input before, there is every possibility that some useful legislation would have been passed before now.
But Sen. Reid, President Obama and the other Democrats in Washington had better get a firm hold on the new reality, which is that voters screamed a message last week that they want changes in how their government operates.
They don’t like the dangerous stimulus spending, government takeover of banks and auto companies, the health care reform bill, and the way it was conceived in dark backrooms and jammed through without any Republican input or support, the proposed cap and trade bill that everyone except Washington Democrats realizes will further cripple the economy, and the general attitude among the political class that they know better than the people what is best for them.
The job Republicans were given is to save the country from the chaos that the liberal-controlled government produced, and to give the people what they want: a government based upon principles of smaller, less intrusive, constitutional government, and return to America the balance between the private sector and the public sector that enabled the country to grow and prosper.
Cross-posted from Observations