Few election results were less surprising than last Tuesday’s. It’s not as if there was no reason for a general backlash against Republican Party dominance in Washington, D.C. There were, in fact, more reasons to vote against Republicans than for them.
The Grand Old Party, in actual operation as a ruling party, had stood by just a few principles. Most people could only name two: Republicans had stuck to their guns on gun ownership rights and on a few tax cuts.
But general tax cuts? No. A general tax simplification reform? No.
Spending cuts? A resounding no, no, no, echoing throughout the land as the party of Reagan spent like the party of Tip O’Neil . . . on steroids.
Republicans in Congress, as corralled by the President, had even managed to increase entitlement spending by adding a new level of coverage by Medicare.
And the issue of war . . . well, Americans were beginning to see something very wrong in the move on Iraq.
None of these provide strong arguments for voting Democrat, of course. Democrats love spending money just as much as, apparently, Republicans in office do. And Democrats have demonstrated no clear vision on Iraq, much less on foreign policy in general. Though the war in Iraq was the paramount issue in the election, the victory by Democrats doesn’t point to any clear change in policy, as Democrats offered none.
But our democracy is, at the federal level, held in a two-party cartel. When one party demonstrably fails, Americans have no other choice: If we are to hold politicians responsible for their acts, then power must be taken away from them. Bite the bullet and vote for the opposition.
However distasteful, it’s that simple.
A Prophet in His Own Party
Three days before the election, CBS’s 60 Minutes aired a segment on Rep. Jeff Flake. The story featured the Arizona rep’s seemingly quixotic attempt to cut down on “earmarks” (pork). And Flake was most candid. “Everyone bears some blame here but Republicans are going to be blamed disproportionately. And then I have to say we deserve it, because we’ve been in charge.”
Yes. There’s no way around this. Republicans have been in charge. They can’t really blame their profligacy on Democrats. They were tested; they fell short.