The campaign ads are silent, most votes are counted and, but for a few election cliffhangers, the results are in. The Republican Party has taken control of the House of Representatives with a pick up of over 60 seats, at least 10 governorships have switched from Democrat to Republican and at this writing a minimum of six U.S. Senate seats are in the Republican column.
But wait a minute, leave the champagne corked. The Republican Party did not win on November 2nd, 2010. The Republican Party was the weapon of choice at the ballot box for millions of ordinary Americans to vent their dissatisfaction with leaders who were bankrupting America and passing mountains of debt on to their children and grandchildren. These people for the most part were not party activists, political operatives, big donors or Washington insiders. They were common sense working men and women who were fed up and simply sick and tired of our political leaders in both parties ignoring their pleas to return to constitutional government, exercise fiscal restraint, reduce the size of government and cut taxes on business and individuals to create more private sector jobs. Call them Tea Party activists or just plain concerned citizens, they are the winners. This was an insurrection of determined citizens who decided to change the political landscape and in so doing changed America. Thomas Jefferson would have been inspired by these patriots!
But not everyone is buying the Jefferson comparison! The liberal elitists have it figured out! Just a brief scan of the New York Times website this morning yielded the following headline: “Tea Party Comes to Power on an Unclear Mandate” in an article by Kate Zernike. Mark Leibovich calls them a “cadre of high-fiving, Heineken toasting, Tea Party insurgents and Republican stalwarts.” Even before the elections took place, Ted Barrett of CNN prognosticated “More Gridlock Ahead,” if Tea Party candidates were successful. Peppered throughout the news articles and network coverage one finds such terms as “extremists,” “uncompromising zealots” and those with “nutty positions.” Tea Party candidates such as Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, and others were excoriated in the press in deeply personal, as opposed to political, terms.
But it was not just the liberal media (which was to be expected), it was also the Republican political establishment. Former New Hampshire Senator John Sununu predicted proudly that the impact of the Tea Party senators will be “absolutely nothing.” Sununu further referred to the potential impact of the Tea Party as an “overblown story that is 180 degrees from the truth.” The former senator further pointed out that only those who work with the establishment will be “deeply respected and successful” should they win their elections. Others piled on as well. Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a former colleague of mine, criticized South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint for having the audacity to support Tea Party true conservative candidates, such as Christine O’Donnell, over the “establishment” Republicans. Collins said, “It is a new and shocking development to have a member of our conference opposing incumbent Republicans.” This, of course, is not true. It has happened to many others including me.
Betrayals are not limited to the media and potential colleagues in the House and Senate. In a recent article on the “American Thinker” website, Janet Levy pointed out that lobbying organizations who should be supportive of Tea Party favorites also abandoned the base. VFW PAC, AMA and even the NRA opted for political access and clout above principle and friends. Maybe it is time, now that the elections are over, for the newly elected conservatives to close their doors to some of these groups.
This brings me to my conclusion. The American people have elected you to rein in government, cut taxes and promote job growth and respect the Constitution. They mean business and will not tolerate a lack of commitment and action to accomplish these goals.
They are not looking for moderation and compromise. They want real change in policy and in the way you conduct your business in Washington, D.C. If you do not deliver, you will be gone in a blink of an eye.
Here is a bit of unsolicited but friendly advice from one who has been where you are headed:
1. The media and the establishment will do all in their power to see that you fail. You will be mocked, marginalized and ignored. Do not be intimidated. Put principle over politics and do what you need to do. Let elections take care of themselves after you do the right thing. You do not have to interview with anyone just because they ask you. If you succeed with your agenda, you will get all the media attention that you need.
2. All of you newly elected House and Senate members, whether Tea Party or not, immediately announce that you will not be campaigning to raise or accept campaign contributions until January of 2012. Keep the lobbyists out of your offices, hire strong, principled, professional staff and work hard to accomplish what you came here to do.
You are thus telling your constituents that you came here to change America back to Constitutional government and fiscal sanity, not just to run again for re-election. This is going to be hard and difficult to do, but so was your election hard and difficult!
3. Do not be afraid to speak up as a new member. Each of you has only one vote and they are all counted equally. Do not let establishment leaders and other members threaten you or flatter you into something you do not believe is the correct agenda or vote.
4. Clearly set the agenda that you would like to accomplish in 2011 and make sure all party leaders and your colleagues understand it clearly. Get votes on these items even if the President vetoes them. The American people would welcome gridlock, if you demonstrate that you want to stop the spending, repeal government run health care, end the bailouts and stimulus money, reduce corporate and individual income taxes and stop more attacks on our constitutional form of government.
Put all spending on the table for discussion. You cannot balance the budget by only cutting earmarks and other discretionary spending. Yes, that includes entitlements, corporate subsidies, defense and ending the financial drain of illegal immigration.
5. Call for a conference meeting or retreat of 50 to 100 of the most successful business leaders in America. Task them to give you some ideas on how we can kick the economy back into gear and create more jobs. You should look at some degree of privatization of education, infrastructure, space, energy and other innovative technologies. Part of this discussion should be a plan for incentives to encourage companies to bring trillions of dollars of capital, sent abroad to avoid taxes and penalties, back to America for new investment and job growth. Business leaders will be flattered to be asked and you never know what they might bring forth.
The American people are counting on all of you! If you succeed, historians will look back decades from now and write that America returned to the principles and policies of our Founders with the elections of 2010. Given our current crisis, failure is not an option.
On a personal note, when I served in the U.S. Senate from New Hampshire, I sat at the desk of Daniel Webster. It was his original desk. Everyone who has used that desk, including Webster, had signed his name in the drawer. Every time I sat there, I was reminded that I was but a temporary steward for America at a given time and place in history. I tried to make the most of that time.
This is your time!