The campaigns are over, the election is done, the results are in. What now?

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November 2010

Two years ago progressives won a victory in the White House and a majority in both houses of Congress. Much was accomplished in the past two years, but the political landscape is different now. I am disappointed in the results of November 2, but I am reminded of a saying in AA, “This too shall pass.” I am also aware of history.

History

            In 1994 the Republicans won a majority of both houses of Congress, not just the House, under a Democratic President. The next six years were some of the best in recent history. By the end of Clinton’s second term, the federal budget was balanced and we were actually paying down the national debt. In one of my columns I remarked that it is a good thing to have different parties in the White House and in Congress. Will that be true these next two years?

            In the 1830’s a small movement, consisting  mostly of white male Protestants, opposed the influx of Catholics, Jews, and immigrants in general. They feared the Catholics would be controlled by the outside power of the Pope and the Vatican. They feared the funny sounding Irish brogue and detested the Germans who spoke in their own language. They tried to prohibit foreign born people from voting for twenty years. They wanted only Protestants teaching in public schools. They called themselves the patriotic sounding name of American Party but were popularly known as the “know nothing” party because they answered questions with “I don’t know.” They ascended in power over the next thirty years but never gained a majority in Congress or elected a President. The American Party eventually faded out of existence or was absorbed by the newly formed Republican Party. (1)  Without much imagination one can see the parallel to today’s political climate.

This past election marked some of the meanest charges made by one candidate against another, but this too is not unusual. Two hundred ten years ago John Adams and Thomas Jefferson exchanged nasty barbs, but they died friends on the same day in 1824. Andrew Jackson’s campaign was marked by scurrilous attacks on him. The elections of the 1880’s were marked by political cartoons drawn by Thomas Nast that were despicable.

Now what?

Clearly many voters are unhappy with Congress and have shown that by electing a Republican majority in the House. What does it mean? The words of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) give us a clue. He said on November 4, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” (2)

Dave Camp will push for the implementation of A Pledge to America which he helped write and I wrote about in my October column. This Pledge called for repeal of the health care reform, continue the job killing tax cuts of the Bush era, strict interpretation of the Constitution, a “robust defense”, and a balanced budget. These will certainly be at the top of his agenda.

            Neither McConnell nor the Pledge gives us much hope for civil leadership.

Repeal of health care bad idea

            A poll after the election found that only 18% of voters said health care was their top priority and voters in general were almost evenly split in support of and opposition to health care reform passed in March 2010. (3)

            I have heard people blame the health care reform for increases in health insurance premium. I sold health insurance in the 1970’s to 1990’s and witnessed double digit increases many years. We can’t blame the current increases on reform. Besides, most people have insurance through their employers and don’t pay the full premium. The employer is the one increasing the costs of insurance. My current insurance plan will be cancelled on December 31 but the new plan I chose has just as good coverage and with a lower premium. I pay the full premium. Can I say this is the result of health care reform? I don’t know.

Some Republicans are saying they have a mandate to implement the Pledge, but I think that the election is a mandate to conduct business in a more civil manner. Just as the voters were tired of Republicans in 2006, they are now tired of the Democrats. Both parties need to get into the act of governing. If they don’t, we will see a replay of this election in 2012 with voters ousting the newly elected Republicans.

 

(1) Know Nothing Party:

http://law.jrank.org/pages/8005/Know-Nothing-Party.html

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(2) Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president. Our single biggest political goal is to give [the Republican] nominee for president the maximum opportunity to be successful.”

http://chattahbox.com/us/2010/10/27/dems-blast-mcconnells-plan-to-destroy-obamas-presidency-video/

November 4, 2010

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(3) “Sorting Out the Election”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/04/opinion/04thu1.html?_r=2

November 4, 2010

Quote:

“In polls of Tuesday’s voters, only 18 percent said health care was the nation’s top issue. While 48 percent of voters said they wanted to repeal the health care law, 47 percent said they wanted to keep it the way it is or expand it — hardly a roaring consensus.”

 

“National Survey of US House Voters”

http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/wdc/exit-polls-2010/index.html

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in March 2010.

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