With so much noise constantly being made inside the Beltway by pollsters, pundits and operatives, it’s always nice to hear the reality of what’s going on outside the Beltway. On Tuesday night, a lifelong Democrat resident of Massachusetts, who voted for President Obama in 2008, explained on television in very clear terms why he voted for Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts’ special election to the United States Senate: “I wanted to send a message … I think they’ve been trying to shove this health care bill right down our throats.”
This voter, like many Americans, feels betrayed by President Obama. Why? One year ago, the American people gave the president an enormous amount of trust to enact “change we can believe in.” But with a weak economy and rising unemployment, this administration decided to take a “big bang” approach to policy, taking advantage of the economic crisis to push their ultra-liberal agenda, including a government takeover of health care that will increase taxes and raise premiums.
So what were the results of Obama’s “big bang” this past year? Republicans took back the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey, both states that Mr. Obama won in 2008. Five House Democrats have announced their retirements, along with two Senate Democrats who were once perceived as “unbeatable” in their states. One House Democrat got so fed up with Mr. Obama’s liberal agenda he decided to become a Republican. Polls show fewer Americans identifying themselves as Democrats and more identifying themselves as Republicans. Republicans are winning against Democrats in generic congressional ballots. And independent voters, who were key to Democrats’ victories in 2006 and 2008, are running away from the Democratic Party faster than you can say “Yes we can.”
It all culminated Tuesday night as the people of Massachusetts sent Scott Brown, who campaigned against Mr. Obama’s government takeover of health care in the bluest of blue states, to the U.S. Senate. From the town halls of last August to the GOP gubernatorial wins in Virginia and New Jersey last November, the American people spoke clearly in 2009 and now they have spoken again, even more loudly, in the Bay State. However, it doesn’t look like Mr. Obama is going to start listening any time soon.
Instead, he and congressional Democrats are drunk on power, arrogantly defying the people’s will. They’re currently plotting a strategy on how to rush their government-run health care bill to the president’s desk. Mr. Obama’s top aide, David Axelrod, says stopping their government takeover of health care is “not an option.” Nancy Pelosi has said that she would do “almost anything” to pass their bill. And instead of wanting to work with Republicans in 2010, the White House has signaled that they will start employing even more combative tactics, using every political weapon in their arsenal in an attempt to distract Americans from the failures of their administration.
This is exactly why Republicans are in a great position to win in 2010. Not only do voters realize that the only way to check the unbridled power of Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats is to elect more Republicans. They recognize that it is the Republican Party that has consistently provided solutions to grow our economy and create jobs. The Republican Party is listening to the voters, and the Democratic Party is lecturing to them. Right now, as Democrats continue on their arrogant path to push their liberal, big-government agenda, they’re also on the path towards losing Congress.
This is my message to Americans who are tired of the change we didn’t expect from Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats: If you have ever considered running for office, if you have ever considered donating to a cause, if you have ever considered getting involved, this is the time. Don’t wait for instructions from inside the Beltway. Take action now, because we want to contest every single election this fall. If we can win in Massachusetts, we can win anywhere.
Bob McDonnell, Chris Christie and Scott Brown should serve as role models for all Republican candidates: The key to success will involve listening to voters, promoting bottom-up solutions to take our economy out from the depths of this recession, and courting independent and even Democrat voters.
Mr. Obama is right: There is “change we can believe in.” But this November, I’m confident the American people will tell the president that Republicans are the ones that can enact the change we need and that the president’s binge spending, government takeover agenda will, once again, be soundly rejected at the polls.
Michael Steele is chairman of the Republican National Committee.