Opinion

Midterm takeaways

George Landrith President, Frontiers of Freedom
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Barack Obama would like to chalk the 2010 elections up to a weak economy and voters not understanding what a great job he did in preventing an even bigger economic collapse. It suits him to see things that way. He can continue to blame the economy on his predecessor and say that he saved us from the abyss. That’s his story and he’s sticking to it. Yet, if the weak economy were responsible for Democrats’ losses, then, historically speaking, Democrats should have lost only 20 to 30 House seats. Yet they lost 2 to 3 times that many. Why? Because voters aren’t just upset about the economy. They’re upset with the recklessly expensive and unwanted command-and-control policies that Obama pushed down their throats.

President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Harry Reid would much rather see the voters as upset about high unemployment and slow economic growth than see the truth that Americans are fed up with Obama’s, Reid’s and Pelosi’s budget-busting, high-spending, big-government, command-and-control approach. It is an inconvenient truth for Reid and Pelosi, who drove their party over the edge at Obama’s behest.

But it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they are blind to the truth. A year ago, the public sent an unmistakable walk-up call to Obama, Reid and Pelosi when Republicans surged to victories in the New Jersey and Virginia governors’ races. And then, as if that wasn’t clear enough, in a special election in Massachusetts, one of the most liberal states in the nation, the Senate seat that had been occupied by Ted Kennedy for five decades was won by a little-known politician who campaigned against the Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda.

Even then, Obama, Reid, and Pelosi refused to see the truth. According to them, voters were simply upset about the bad economy. They rejected out of hand any possibility that the public opposed their radical and irresponsible spending and their big-government approach.

Because of their willful blindness, Obama, Reid and Pelosi doubled down on their tactics and rammed through Congress a wildly unpopular healthcare bill with ham-fisted tactics, political bribes, secret deals, self-evidently dishonest cost estimates, and false promises. All of this was in stark contrast to Obama’s promises that he would change how things worked in Washington and that he would be open and transparent. So on top of pushing a wildly unpopular political agenda, Obama, Pelosi and Reid revealed themselves to be ultra-partisan politicians willing to lie, cheat and steal to advance their agenda. It was a far cry from the post-partisan and transparent leadership they had promised.

It has been more than 70 years since Republicans have won as many House seats in a midterm election as they did last Tuesday. When you consider the historic gains in governorships and state legislatures around the nation, it is simply impossible for rational people to blame the election results on a weak economy. The weak economy is a drag on the party in power — the party of Obama, Reid, and Pelosi. But a weak economy does not explain the historic election results.

The bottom line is that the electorate effectively said, “Enough is enough! We didn’t put you in power to mortgage our children’s future, spend us into crushing debt, or have Big Government take over everything from the auto industry to healthcare to banking. You promised that you would spend every dime carefully and review every line of the budget. You lied! We’ve had enough.” It is called buyers’ remorse. So of course, Obama, Reid and Pelosi want to explain it away and blame it on a bad economy rather than on their overreaching power grabs.

But the cold hard truth is that the 2010 elections were an unmistakable rebuke of Democrats’ political agenda and heavy-handed approach. People are unhappy about high unemployment and slow economic growth, but they are also angry and fuming about Obama’s agenda of bailouts and government takeovers of the auto industry, the banking industry, the mortgage industry, and healthcare. They are angry about wasteful stimulus bills that falsely promised lots of “shovel-ready jobs.” They are angry about the president referring to them as “enemies” when all they want is responsible and constitutional government. They are angry about having their patriotism, intelligence and decency questioned because they object to unprecedented and radical growth in the size and scope government.

Obama, Pelosi and Reid can continue to ignore the election results and pretend that the public is just upset about the economy, or they can begin to see what is plainly obvious — the public will not tolerate their ultra-liberal political agenda or their totalitarian political tactics. Pelosi lost the speakership because of their failures. And Harry Reid will cease to be the Senate majority leader and Obama will be a one-term president if during the next two years the public sees more of the last two years.

The 2010 elections also sent a wake-up call to Republicans, who must grasp that if they return to the practices that they slipped into when they had majorities in 2006 and before, they will lose big in 2012. Here’s the blunt truth — the public doesn’t like big, bloated government. The public doesn’t believe that government is the answer to every problem. The public is tired of having to balance their family and business budgets and seeing government grow at an uncontrolled pace. Based on what the newly elected GOP leaders have been saying lately, there is a chance that they understand what they must do. But it does not yet appear that Obama, Reid or Pelosi have grasped the message that the public so clearly delivered. They ignore that message at their own peril.

George Landrith is President of Frontiers of Freedom Institute an educational institute whose mission is to promote public policy based on the principles of individual freedom, peace through strength, limited government, free enterprise, and traditional American values as found in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.