Tuesday's Results Were All About the American People
While the results of Tuesday’s elections were surely about President Obama and a repudiation by voters of his economic policy, his health care law and the far-left political direction his administration and Congress were leading us, the more exciting story of the day is about the American people.
It’s a story of awakening, a mobilization and a reacquaintance with where power in America really lies. It’s about people getting up off their couches, shaking off inertia, attending rallies and town hall meetings, and making their voices heard. It’s about closely following and learning the issues, being aware and going into the polling booth armed with that knowledge.
It’s a story about everyday, ordinary Americans rightly worried about entrenched government, its parties and representatives, and how these ordinary Americans ginned up the courage to run for office and ultimately unseat the establishment.
Nothing more galvanized and motivated this public awakening, and saw the tea party move from a fledgling hodgepodge of disgruntled Americans to an explosive grassroots movement, than when Scott Brown took Teddy Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts.
Most Americans thought that would be the end of the health care push by Obama and the Democratic Congress. Instead, the bill was rammed through in the dark of night by Nancy Pelosi’s last-minute arm-twisting and outright bribery of Democratic holdouts.
This move capped for Americans that something was seriously wrong in Washington. Despite public pleas that the health care issue be worked out in a bipartisan way with Republicans, and focus more on lowering costs and covering the uninsured, a 2,000-page leviathan entitlement was passed instead, and nobody had read the damn thing.
Pelosi told the public they would come to like the bill after it became fully enacted. Americans knew by this point that government was acting on its own, and they had had enough.
In Federalist No. 22, Alexander Hamilton wrote: “The fabric of the American Empire ought to rest on the solid basis of THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE. The streams of national power ought to flow immediately from that pure original fountain of all legitimate authority.” This is the message sent by voters in Tuesday night’s historic turnovers. The American people’s role in our system of government is apparently still alive and kicking.
And while not every American called to act in what led up to Tuesday’s upsets may be acutely aware of Federalist No. 22, or other specific exhortations regarding our Constitution, this idea that our government will only operate at the consent of the governed is so second-nature, so ingrained in who we are as a people, that there was little likelihood they’d view the health care fiasco, and the process in which that legislation was passed, as anything but an overreach and consolidation of federal power.
At a press conference in which he acknowledged the Republican “shellacking” of Democrats, President Obama said the American people looked at the recovery packages, bank and auto bailouts as an agenda of his administration rather than emergency measures taken by the government to forestall a second Great Depression.
This is false. Americans were upset by these bailouts because they felt the federal government shouldn’t artificially prop up the private sector, nor should it attempt to spend its way out of a recession. Further, Americans knew we faced a crisis — almost 10 percent of them were unemployed. It was Obama’s remedies to the emergency that they found so wrong.
Americans also understood that there was no emergency to health care reform during a time of economic crisis. This was the all-consuming agenda on the part of Obama and the Democrats in Congress.
And so in the midterm elections, the newly reawakened American people spoke. And it was loud. Presumptive Speaker of the House John Boehner wrote in Friday’s Wall Street Journal: “Tired of politicians who refuse to listen, Americans who previously were not involved or minimally involved in the political process are now helping to drive it.”
True enough, Mr. Boehner! Americans are tired of “business as usual” in Washington. The question now is whether you will be able to convince Mr. Obama of this, and whether together you can begin to fix the economy and cut the spending.
Americans will be watching.
Geoff Cutler is owner of Cutler Tree LLC in Southern Pines. He writes for PineStraw magazine under the heading “Thoughts From the Manshed.”
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