The people have spoken

Posted: Nov 07, 2002 12:00 AM
The people have spoken. For the first time in nearly 70 years, the president's party has picked up seats in the House during the midterm elections. And for the first time in 20 years, they've made gains in the Senate during an off-term election year, making this the first time in 100 years that the Republicans have gained control of the House, the Senate and the presidency. "President Bush and the Republican Party tonight have made history," proclaimed White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. But the real departure came in the weeks leading up to the election, when a host of Democratic candidates attempted to swing their contests by co-opting winning Republican symbols (if not values). In Arkansas, Mark Pryor disavowed his previous views on abortion and flatly refused to support the pro-choice movement. Anywhere cameras clicked, he could be seen posing as a hunter. Pryor literally draped himself in camouflage, handed out brochures at gun shows and NRA conventions and stumped on Second Amendment rights. He won. It was conservative-style politicking at its nadir. In New Hampshire, Democratic candidate Jeanne Shaheen tried late in the game to swing the race in her favor by adopting conservative views on tax issues. She failed. Similarly, Max Cleland (D-Ga.) tried to defend his Senate seat by touting a pro-life, anti-taxes, pro-gun tune. More conservative a Democrat candidate cannot get. Nonetheless, Cleland also failed, a fact that no doubt causes conservatives to laugh unkindly. Still, the avidity with which Democrats were immersing themselves in conservative rhetoric suggests a new breed of conservative democrats, whose support Republicans might be able to rely on for key issues such as tax cuts and military spending. Also of note was the Republicans ability to garner large numbers of Black American votes. That marks a change from recent voting patterns. In Georgia and South Carolina (where 37 percent of the population is black), Republican gubernatorial candidates unseated Democratic incumbents. In Maryland, Rep. Robert Ehrlich became the first Republican elected governor in more than 30 years. His running mate happens to be black, a fact that was not lost on Maryland voters who felt that Democratic opponent Kathleen Kennedy Townsend bypassed several qualified black running mates because she took the black vote for granted. This is a prime opportunity for the Republican Party to shed some of the hangover from their battles with the Democrats over civil rights reform nearly half a century ago. Let's hope they don't drop the ball. The midterm elections did produce one shining moment for the Democrats: Gov. Gray Davis was elected to a second term in California, despite spending much of the first term wrecking California's economy and energy industry. Plainly, Californians are giving their vote away. I herewith propose that they succeed from the union. As for the present, a united Congress is in a position to speed along a host of issues that resonate deeply with the American public, including the Homeland Security bill, tax and capitol gains cuts and the filling of judicial vacancies. Game on, Americans!