- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 4, 2010

The midterm elections are over, and both winners and losers are saying they are taking the messages of the voters to heart. But now what?

Where are we going, and how will we get there?

Voters who thought Washington was moving in the wrong direction or no direction got off the bus.

Voters want the real deal, not mere symbolism.

They want Washington to roll up its collective sleeves (or kick off the high heels), lay out a bipartisan road map to uphold America’s founding principles and begin sounding the death knell on big government by 2012. The deadline is not optional.

Voters sent more than one message Tuesday, and the clearest was a clarion call for bipartisan leadership.

Voters handed neither party a mandate.

Yet the voices shared a common theme: As long as families have to pinch pennies, the government should, too.

Breadwinners don’t know from month to month whether they will have a job. College graduates are moving back home with their folks because that $150,000 degree isn’t worth the ink on the sheepskin. And the burgeoning underclass? Suffice it to say entitlements are that huge sucking sound heard across the country.

Public bailouts, public education, public day care, public health care, public transportation, public job training, public incarceration, public libraries, public museums, public parks and all manner of freebies for junkies, potheads and the like.

There’s no need to continue the list, whose items all fall under the category of discretionary spending.

President George W. Bush was no fiscal conservative (shush, don’t tell anybody), yet 2008 voters heralded Barack Obama as Mr. Fix-it and dispatched him to Washington as if he had a magic wand to wave over Congress in one hand and an allotment of handbooks from Joe the Plumber to dispense to his advisers in the other. Between Inauguration Day 2009 and Election Day 2010, voters came to their senses.

Attention-deficit voters who spend most of their time tweeting, texting and reading headlines instead of contextualized news stories were kicked to the curb by their parents and grandparents, who dispensed term limits without regret.

With re-nesting replacing empty-nesting and their wallets thinning, these smarter Americans rocked the vote — and it didn’t matter whether a politician’s favorite color was Republican red or Democratic blue.

They set a deadline for the White House and Congress, and they’re not the type to twiddle thumbs until politicians “unite” for the president’s State of the Union address.

They flipped the hourglass quicker than you could say “Days of Our Lives.”

Many first-time and young-adult voters were naive enough in 2008 to think they could change the ways of Washington. But the culture of Washington — like the entire reality-TV lot — is scripted.

So, what now?

“From Scott Rigell’s congressional victory in my home area of Hampton Roads to those of other Republican and ‘tea party’-supported candidates nationwide, the will of the people is clear — no more bailouts, no more excessive spending on failed government programs and no further encroachments on our rights and liberties as a free people,” said Coby Dillard of Virginia, co-founder of the Hampton Roads Tea Party.

“Republicans have the majority, not a free pass. Virginia’s motto — sic semper tyrannis — gives no allegiance to political party, and [Tuesday] night’s results are an echo of that motto. Liberals who have tread on our freedoms and wallets were removed via the electoral process; those who replaced them can expect the same result in 2012 if they do the same.”

Voters have spoken: Symbolism is dead and politicians have until 2012 to reset America’s course.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.