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November 5, 2010

Repairing a Sinking Ship

Joe Charlebois

In the election of 2008 the Democrat Party finally gained back the number of seats that they had lost to the Republicans in the 1994 “Gingrich Revolution.” The House, as a result, held 257 seats, a 79 seat majority.


Along with the House victory in 2008 the historical election of Barack Obama against moderate John McCain and the 60 seat filibuster proof Senate, the electorate handed President Obama the ability to pass any piece of legislation he desired.


After nearly two years since the 111th Congress was seated, the luster of the Democrat resounding victory has dulled. The elections of 2010 represents sea change as the Democrats lose control of the House of Representatives and their Senate majority has dwindled from “filibuster proof” to a narrow majority.


According to the Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives, the results of this election will garner the lowest number of Democrats elected to office since the 80th Congress (1947) when the Democrats held 188 seats. The only other time the House has had less than 200 Democratic members – since Congress settled on limiting the number of Representatives to a total of 435 members – is the 14 years that they averaged less than 200 members from 1917 to 1931.


The current House of Representatives Minority Leader, John Boehner (R., OH) – who is the presumptive Speaker-elect – gave his acceptance speech Tuesday night to a throng of supporters but more directly to the nation and the political opposition. Mr. Boehner’s speech touched on all typically conservative chords.


“…it’s clear who the winners are tonight, and that’s the American people. Your voice was heard at the ballot box! Your voice!” he stated.


He went on to call the election a “…repudiation of Washington, a repudiation of big government and a repudiation of politicians who refuse to listen to the people.”


On all three points he is correct. The electorate, which was clamoring for a positive change just two years ago – after years of war, and a slumping economy and the Republicans ceasing to differentiate themselves from their political rivals, voted for “Hope and Change.”


In 2008 the voters weren’t looking to give more power to Washington. They weren’t looking to be taken care of. The people were looking to the president and his party to right the ship America. Instead the leadership decided to sail on through the rough seas all the while taking on even more water.


The inexperience of the president and arrogance of both he and Congress finally set off the electorate. In many cases it was an electorate that had never been politically active before.


The “Hope-and-Change” Congress lost because the voters saw fiscal ruin by continuing on with the current philosophy.


Mr. Boehner touched on these concerns as well.


“It starts with cutting spending instead of increasing it; reducing the size of government instead of expanding it; reforming the way Congress works and giving government back to the people.”


"But make no mistake, the president will find in our new majority the voice of the American people as they’ve expressed it tonight: standing on principle, checking Washington’s power, and leading the drive for a smaller, less costly, and more accountable government.”


Mr. Boehner wanted to remind his fellow House members that it wasn’t time for the Republican Party to celebrate but that it is was instead time to create an environment that would allow American enterprise to once again flourish, get Americans back to work and reversing  the growth of governmental control and limitations on individual liberties in check.



"We can celebrate when the spending binge in Washington has stopped. And we can celebrate when we have a government that has earned back the trust of the people it serves … when we have a government that honors our Constitution and stands up for the values that have made America, America: economic freedom, individual liberty, and personal responsibility.”


Who knows how this Congress will work with the president and vice versa, but the people in their selections have made it clear that the “Hope and Change” that they voted for didn’t include servitude aboard a sinking ship.



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