Republican legislators are slowly, slowly uncurling from their fetal positions after the re-election of Barack Obama. The shock is wearing off even though not one strong voice has yet emerged from Washington, D.C. to lead the millions of Americans who are also in shock.

These legislators, like almost half the country, simply could not believe (see: Karl Rove on Fox News on election night) that so many Americans would just ignore the facts defining our country under Barack Obama: the highest and longest lasting unemployment rate in 70 years, enough new debt to choke a horse and an American ambassador murdered on the anniversary of 9/11 at an all but undefended post in Benghazi.

Theories abound on the historic re-election of Mr. Obama. Was it the TV strategy? An outdated get-out-the-vote effort by Republicans? Was it the self-inflicted wounds of the candidate himself? Maybe it was Candy Crowley who forgot her non-aligned debate moderator role in favor of being candidate Obama’s validator on the key question of whether he misled the American people about Benghazi.

Not mentioned much (except in the leaked and excoriated Romney video) are the extraordinary levels of social welfare spending under Barack Obama’s administration. Free cells phones, redistributive tax policies, AFDC, exempted welfare/work rules, liberalized disability eligibility, historic food stamp levels and extended and extended again unemployment benefits, among others. Mr. Romney was vilified by Mr. Obama’s loving media for suggesting it, but it’s true—47% of the American public pay no income taxes and they get a lot of government goodies.

This is the Achilles Heel of any government built on democracy—the people can vote themselves spending out of the Treasury. In this case, Barack Obama and Senate Democrats have concluded that as long as they spend freely (even with borrowed money), votes will be bought. Combine that with effective class warfare arguments and a talent for deflecting responsibility for anything that goes wrong (like Solyndra, “Fast and Furious” guns to Mexican drug cartels and the Keystone Pipeline delayed for five years running), and candidate Obama found a winning, even if irresponsible, strategy. Think Tammany Hall.

After the election the fiscal cliff loomed almost immediately. As long as the Senate continued to be invisible on the federal budget the Republican House could be blamed for everything. That worked, too, so Republicans caved in on new taxes.

Ken Hoagland

Ken Hoagland is the Chairman of Restore America’s Voice.