Yesterday, Republicans picked up at least 60 seats in the House, an electoral shift not seen in this country since 1948. The GOP also picked up six seats in the Senate, yet the Democrats were able to hold onto their majority there, with Majority Leader Harry Reid pulling off an upset against his challenger, Sharron Angle.
And the sentiment that I’ve been picking up on, at least thus far, is this: ‘The parties need to work together. We need to compromise.’
That’s what I would expect. Really, that’s what I’ve been expecting, and for quite some time now. Where was that sentiment for the past two years? Time after time after time, the President reached out to the Republicans to compromise, be it on the stimulus (he made half the package tax cuts at their initiative), financial regulatory reform (the TARP payback provisions to make sure no new spending could come out of the leftover money), etc. During the health care debate, they didn’t even release their own working papers until the last minute possible. The biggest piece of legislation in a half century, and the Congressional GOP basically pulled an all-nighter to turn in a half baked proposal.
The Republican party, at least through today, has demonstrated neither a willingness nor an inclination to actually govern. Their stance has consistently been one of opposition. Their opposition hasn’t even been one of principle. Their opposition has been for its own sake, to garner more seats in Congress. And now, they’ve done so. But bullheaded opposition and rage do not a governing strategy make.
One of the biggest concerns echoed by the voters was federal spending that was ‘out of control.’ Yesterday, in watching the Republican heads on television, I could not identify one single member of the GOP who was willing to say what cuts needed to be made in the federal budget. Republicans want to make government more ‘efficient ‘ and they want to ‘cut the fat.’ Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) demonstrated that she was clearly unaware what the difference was between discretionary spending and mandatory spending. That the incoming majority seems to lack the conviction or stamina (or basic knowledge) to make difficult choices gives me hope that their act will fall flat with the American voter in 2012. If the American voter even notices.
So, now, Republicans, congratulations, you have the power you so clearly craved. Now do something with it. Because now that you have some skin in the game, come 2012, you’re going to find that it’ll be your feet as well that are held to the fire.