When Senator Harry Reid speaks, if you listen very carefully and sit very still, you can usually hear a faint whisper in the wind, echoing “Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit!” It’s not a human cry. It’s elemental. The vibrating air that carries Reid’s voice is protesting its waste and abuse.
Late last week, an exasperated Harry Reid whined in his custom, semi-coherent manner that congressional Republicans, by opposing the Democrats’ initiatives, were defying the will of the people, presumably asserted in the 2012 elections. Clearly frustrated, and apparently baffled by America’s two-party system, Reid complained that he had been dealing with this Republican-opposition problem for years. He went on to explain to his audience of reporters that they had an “obligation to report” this outrageous behavior to the American people.
The entire exchange was as redundant as it was surreal. (Instructing a flock of Washington political reporters to vilify Republicans is like telling fish to swim.) But as bizarre as Reid’s tantrum was, his peculiar view of the American political scene — that the president’s re-election is a people’s mandate for the Obama agenda — is widely accepted, even by many Republicans. And they’re mistaken. As Republican leaders prepare to make way for spending compromises, amnesty and even Obamacare, they should take a second look at recent history.
In 2008, Barack Obama ran against a cipher. The GOP was unpopular, and its new candidate wasn’t new. He wasn’t on the attack either. Despite Senator Obama’s paper-thin resume and many weaknesses, McCain never went for the throat. And God only knows what “country first” meant.
Without a serious opponent, a virtually unknown Obama ascended to office in an optimistic fog of “hope and change,” whatever that meant. Obama didn’t need a platform, which was good because he didn’t have one. He was going to close Guantanamo and cut the deficit in half and give everyone free health care, so yippee! And he wasn’t Bush!
By the middle of 2009, Americans had realized that Obama actually did have a platform, and they didn’t like it. The word trillion was getting tossed around way too much. Obama’s cap-and-trade gambit crashed and burned before it got off the ground. Then a 2,000-page health care monstrosity ignited a grassroots conflagration. Ted Kennedy’s seat went to a Republican as the wheels started to come off Obama’s wagon. The well-liked president and master orator gave over 50 speeches telling the nation how good Obamacare would be. America didn’t believe him. So he forced it through anyway on a party-line vote.
In 2010, America rejected Obamacare, cap and trade, billion-dollar bailouts and any other pricey federal fix Washington masterminds might’ve been tinkering with. It was the largest political wave in 70 years. Americans hadn’t fallen in love with the Republican Party. They were rejecting Obama’s policy, and it wasn’t a mild rejection.
So what happened in 2012? Did Americans radically change their minds en masse about the policies they loathed in 2010? Did they grow to like Obamacare more as they learned more about it?
No. They didn’t.
Last November, America rejected Mitt Romney. That’s it. There wasn’t any new enthusiasm for Obama. In fact, 4 million fewer Americans voted in 2012 than in 2008, despite a national population increase of 10 million. Few seats changed hands. The balance of power remained the same. America voted for the status quo. And that status quo was forged in 2010.