The 2010 midterm elections were historic in many ways. At the time, Democrats appeared to have crafted a lasting hold on power. In the previous two cycles they gained a commanding majority in the House of Representatives, nearly achieved filibuster-proof status in the Senate, and captured the presidency. It led pundits and prognosticators to proclaim “the death of conservatism” and inspired books like James Carville’s “40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation.” As it turned out, a Democratic majority wouldn’t even survive two years.
Hubris, in the form of a wasteful stimulus, an unpopular Obamacare bill, and massive increases in the nation’s debt and deficits, led the public to turn against the top-down, big-government vision Democrats were peddling. By the 2010 elections the public had simply had enough. After the ballots were cast and the votes had been counted Republicans had soared into the record books – winning more House seats than any party since 1948 and gaining six seats in the Senate.
Arkansas’ Blanche Lincoln was one of the Democrats to fall, losing to Republican John Boozman by a stunning 58 to 37 percent margin. The results were no doubt a wakeup call to her fellow Natural State senator, Mark Pryor.
“I think one reason why you saw the elections turn out the way they turned this November was because I think people all across America feel like the folks inside the beltway are not listening,” Sen. Pryor said at the time. “I try to listen and be home as much as I possibly can.”
Unfortunately, the stark lessons of the midterm elections seem to have already faded from Pryor’s memory.
Rather than distance himself from Obamacare, a bill that would not have passed without his support, he called his choice the “right vote.” In a later interview he called the bill “an amazing success story so far.”
Arkansans disagree. A recent poll shows that when prospective voters are told that Pryor voted for Obamacare, while his GOP challenger Tom Cotton voted to repeal it, 55 percent of voters said this would make them more likely to vote for Cotton, and 33 percent said it would make them more likely to vote for Pryor.
Those numbers shouldn’t come as a surprise in a state where health care premiums are expected to rise by 60 to 100 percent because of Obamacare. And Arkansas businesses are also feeling the pinch. Recent news reports show that Tyson Foods, which employs tens of thousands of Arkansans, would incur an additional $10 million in additional costs because of the health care law. Baptist Health System, another of the state’s largest employers, also announced layoffs due to the “challenges of health reform.”
One business owner, his frustration clearly boiling over, urged Sen. Pryor to “look around…we used to have about 100 people here, now we have 25. The policies you’re creating in Washington are killing these companies.”
Those same policies are also dimming the future of the state’s young adults. At a time when Arkansas’ youth unemployment rate remains above 17 percent, more than twice the state average, steps must be taken to free entrepreneurs and job creators. Instead, Pryor’s voting history, from his support of cap-and-trade, which would have taken millions of dollars out of the economy, to his political posturing on the recent student loan relief bill, have shown that he is no friend of the state’s young people.
Arkansas youths deserve better than the tried-and-failed, tax-and-spend policies of Sen. Mark Pryor. One by one his votes have pushed our age group further away from the American Dream and back into our parents’ basement.
The historic 2010 midterm elections should have convinced Sen. Pryor that he needed to change his ways, but instead it appears to have hardened his resolve. Now, he appears ready to make a little history of his own – by being the first incumbent senator in history to lose a general election after winning an unopposed election his previous term.