Somewhere in the files of The Heritage Foundation there is a photo of President Clinton holding up a Heritage report for photographers to see.
The report, issued in 1993 at the height of anti-Clinton mania, recommends Republicans refrain from playing politics with the president’s appointments because presidents have the right to appoint the people he chooses. And they have that right because elections have consequences.
That observation is as fresh today as it was then. We bemoan “corporate control” of our politicians and the coarseness of debate. But in fact, government today is as transparent and effective and responsive to electoral results as it ever has been. We’re where we are now because our elections have had real consequences.
In 2006, the electorate had soured on the Bush administration. In some parts of moderate Fairfax County, Va., his hard positives were down to 5 percent. Republicans took a pounding that night, then another two years later that gave Democrats the presidency and near-veto-proof majorities in both houses of Congress.
We’re very much still feeling the consequences of those elections. Democrats used their power to push through ObamaCare, Cash for Clunkers, the bailout of GM and an $800 billion stimulus package.
Voters responded with the “shellacking” of 2010. They went a step further on ObamaCare and called for a redo of sorts because of the sleazy way Congress went about passing it. So, instead of steaming toward full enactment in 2014, the president’s signature legislative accomplishment is stalled in a haze of electorally popular lawsuits.
Experts say those lawsuits will lead to a Supreme Court case that will be decided by one justice who will rule based in large part on how popular the law is when the decision comes before him. Seriously. If you’re one of the 85 percent of Americans who are happy with your current healthcare and truly want to keep it, let Justice Kennedy know.
But they did more than repudiate the Democrats in 2010. They elected a Congress in which a majority were not simply Republicans but conservative Republicans with clear orders from their constituents to reduce the size and reach of government and to hold the line on taxes.
The debt-ceiling battle was their first big chance to carry out those orders.
The House expressed its true will when it passed Cut, Cap and Balance – its first and best attempt to avoid the debt-ceiling disaster. When the Senate rejected that legislation, Speaker John Boehner tried to solve the problem the old-fashioned way – by negotiating a go-along-to-get-along deal with the White House.