When Senator-elect Marco Rubio from Florida took the stage following his victory on Tuesday night, he perfectly summed up the situation that faces a resurgent GOP: “We make a great mistake if we believe that tonight these results are somehow an embrace of the Republican Party. What they are is a second chance.” How right he is. Tuesday’s election results should send a clear message to both parties. The voters rejected the Obama agenda, and they also rejected elitist Washington. Business as usual is no longer acceptable.
The results are still coming in, but Republicans have gained at least 63 seats in the House of Representatives. They needed only 39 to regain control. On the Senate side, Republicans gained six seats, needing ten for control. Harry Reid survived, but as the dust settles, Barack Obama will have to deal with a Senate that has a stronger Republican voice and a House that no longer has Nancy Pelosi as speaker.
So, how did this happen? A look at the exiting polling reveals a huge shift in the sentiments of independent voters. The same people who wanted “change” in 2008 must have woken up and said, “What the hell did I just do?” Nearly 60% of independents went for Republican candidates on Tuesday night, and they were led by their dissatisfaction with the economy and their frustration with Barack Obama and Congress. Nearly 75% of voters had a negative view of how the federal government is working. Over half the respondents had a negative view of Obama.
The job of turning things around will not be easy. For one thing, we still have to deal with people like Nancy Pelosi, even though her power is greatly diminished. Just look at her classless statement regarding the elections:
Pelosi: “Over the last four years, the Democratic Majority in the House took courageous action on behalf of America’s middle class to create jobs and save the country from the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression.
“Our Members and candidates ran remarkable campaigns led by the superb leadership of DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen.
“The outcome of the election does not diminish the work we have done for the American people. We must all strive to find common ground to support the middle class, create jobs, reduce the deficit and move our nation forward.”
There was not one note of congratulations, not one acknowledgement that the voters wanted something different than the Democrats were providing. And then, she has the nerve to say that Congress must “strive to find common ground.” When has she ever sought common ground?
John Boehner, the man who will become the next speaker of the House, took a different tone:
The Democrats put forward an agenda of massive spending, more debt, and more government control. The American people rejected that agenda. The voters also rejected the idea that Washington knows best and everyone else should just keep quiet. We will not be quiet any longer.
And so the Republicans have a second chance, and I hope they use it to return power to the people. Smaller government, lower taxes, less spending, and more accountability. That’s the message being sent to Washington. If Republicans take that message to heart, this can truly be a defining moment in America, as it is not just a rejection of Democrats, but also of policies that put government in control. Freedom is not easy. We can’t just sit back and let government drive the car. As Benjamin Franklin said in answering a question on what was created at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, “A republic, if you can keep it.”