Less than two weeks ago, before House Democrats lost more than 60 seats and their majority, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairman Chris Van Hollen, the man whose sole job is to retain the majority, said, “On specific issues, voters have greater confidence in the Democratic candidates.” This delusional statement is emblematic of why Democrats were swept away in a Republican tsunami on Tuesday.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland tried in vain to boost the DCCC’s coffers. He put up $1.8 million of his own money to help Democratic candidates across the country. But at the end of the day, money did not matter in this election. Democrats lost the House of Representatives on Tuesday because of the failed Obama socialist agenda. The Democratic leadership in the House had blinders on during the past two years. The arrogance of power that Democrats displayed - from the stimulus to “cap-and-trade” to socialized health care - set the course for what happened at the polls. Chris Van Hollen should have known better.
Right after President Obama’s election in 2008, Mr. Van Hollen told Politico, “We have to rise to the occasion.” Clearly, in the eyes of the American people, Mr. Van Hollen and the Democratic leadership in Congress did not rise to the occasion. As a matter of fact, they appeared to be too busy ramming their leftist agenda down the throats of the American people. And worse, taking their cue from Mr. Obama, they were too arrogant to listen to what Americans all over the country (even those in their own party) were telling them.
The seeds for Tuesday’s thumping began with the stimulus package that was pushed through Congress with virtually no Republican support in early 2009. Mr. Obama promised at the time that the stimulus would keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent. National unemployment is currently at a stagnant 9.6 percent and does not look likely to improve dramatically anytime soon. Rather than wasting $800 billion on a stimulus package, the Democrats should have worked with Republicans to pass job-creating legislation and address the exploding $13 trillion debt.
“Cap-and-trade” also contributed to the end of the Democrats’ majority. In crafting this legislation, the Democratic leaders in the House did not even consult with their colleagues in the Senate, which left House Democrats dangling in the wind when the Senate didn’t take a meaningful vote on it. Many Democratic congressmen who lost on Tuesday would still be around if they did not have to take an unpopular vote to appease Nancy Pelosi’s liberal special interests. There would have been a greater probability that members like Virginia’s Tom Perriello would still be representing their districts next year if they were not forced to take a vote that was tantamount to electoral suicide.
However, the issue that put the final nail in the coffin of the Democratic majority was health care. In the summer of 2009 at town-hall meetings across the country, Americans of all stripes came out in droves to voice their opposition to the Democrats’ health care proposals. Mr. Van Hollen should have started ringing the alarm bells back then when he and Nancy Pelosi still had time to reach across the aisle to craft a bipartisan health care bill. Who knows what would have happened if the Democrats had compromised with Republicans and included common-sense solutions like tort reform?
Right before the Senate election of Republican Scott Brown from liberal Massachusetts, Mr. Van Hollen said that thoughts of a Republican takeover of the House were “pure hallucination.” The only one hallucinating was Chris Van Hollen. The shady deals that were made behind closed doors to buy Democrats’ votes turned off many Americans and proved that Mr. Obama and House Democrats had not delivered on their pledge to change Washington and drain the swamp. The final health care bill in the House did not have a single Republican vote and even 34 Democrats voted against it.
The Democratic majority in the House was put at risk when Mr. Van Hollen and Mrs. Pelosi adhered to the rigged left-wing ideology and unpopular, liberal policies of the Obama administration that did not conform to what the American people actually wanted. Thanks to the overreach of Mr. Van Hollen, a Republican reawakening has occurred and more than 60 Democrats lost their seats in the House, including powerful committee Chairmen Ike Skelton of Missouri, John M. Spratt Jr. of South Carolina and James L. Oberstar of Minnesota.
When asked whether he would head the DCCC again, Mr. Van Hollen replied, “I can be absolutely clear that that will not happen again.” That is the best decision Mr. Van Hollen made during his entire tenure.
David N. Bossie is president of Citizens United.