Republicans celebrating yesterday’s ballot-box drubbing of Democrats should not be lulled into thinking their virtues carried the day. The election was first and foremost a referendum on the policies of President Obama and congressional Democrats. That verdict was clear: The American people want change.
Not the empty phrases promising “change” that scrolled across Mr. Obama’s teleprompter during the 2008 campaign. By now, voters have realized there is no difference between the statist policies of FDR and LBJ and those on offer from BHO. The public is demanding an immediate change away from the big-government direction of Congress and this administration. That’s why California Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s brief four-year grasp on the speaker’s gavel will come to an end in January. Headed into 2012, Mr. Obama looks like he won’t serve more than four years either.
Polls released in the days before the election confirm this analysis. Rasmussen Reports found a majority of Americans viewed the Democratic majority with disfavor. Fifty-eight percent wanted to repeal Obamacare. Nearly two-thirds of likely voters said their preference was to get rid of everyone in Congress - that means both Democrats and Republicans - and start again from scratch. Gallup has Mr. Obama’s approval rating at a new low of 44.7 percent. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Monday found 75 percent of Americans believe things are going badly in this country.
Such dissatisfaction has held steady since February 2009, when CNBC’s Rick Santelli asked traders on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, “How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills? President Obama, are you listening?” His inspired rant gave voice to sentiments felt across the country, igniting the Tea Party movement. This helped catapult a number of political newcomers into the spotlight - and into office.
Newly elected Tea Partiers are likely to remain true to their platform of reducing taxation and regulation so that the economy might have room to grow. But if history is any guide, establishment Republicans will need to be continually reminded why they were given a governing majority. The Republican congressional sweep in 1994 promised to shake up the way things had been done for decades, and the new majority delivered in the early years. By 2006, Republicans lost their way. Instead of standing on principle, most devolved into business-as-usual politicians desperate to retain office by spreading around the public’s money in earmarks and other pork. They lost sight of why they went to Washington in the first place, and their fall was inevitable. When the contest is over who can spend the most, Democrats are going to win every time.
Republicans who run on a message of fiscal restraint have a chance because Americans realize families and individuals will be the ones paying for the government’s spending spree for decades to come. That’s why fiscal conservatism has now carried the day. Should the new Congress hold true to the principles of limited government, Republicans will build upon a lasting majority as future ballots are cast for them, rather than against their opponents.