Democrats achieved 60 Senate votes by an historical accident of prosecutorial abuse (Ted Stevens), a stolen election (Al Franken) and a betrayal (Arlen Specter). They then attempted to do nearly everything we expected, regardless of public opinion, and they only stopped because the clock ran out.
The real story of 2010 is that the voters were finally able to see and judge this liberal agenda in its unvarnished form. For once, there was no Republican President to muddle the message or divide the accountability. The public was able to compare the promise of 8% unemployment if the government spent $812 billion on “stimulus” with the 9.8% jobless result. They stood athwart liberal history in the making and said, “Stop.”
Note, too, that the organized left and its media allies are also beginning to rewrite the story of the 111th Congress as an historical triumph. The same people who claimed that ObamaCare was a defeat because it lacked a public option are suddenly noting it will put 32 million more Americans on the government health-care dole. It won’t be long before liberals and the press are defending the 111th Congress’s every achievement as historic.
There is a lesson here both about modern liberalism and for Republicans who will soon have more power in Congress. For today’s left, the main goal of politics is not to respond to public opinion. The goal is to impose the dream of an egalitarian entitlement state whether the public likes it or not. Sooner or later, they figure, the anger will subside and Americans will come to like the cozy confines of the cradle-to-grave welfare state.
The lesson for Republicans is to understand the nature of their political opponents and this long-term bet. The GOP can achieve all kinds of victories in the next two years, and some of them will be important for economic growth. But the main chance is ObamaCare, which will fundamentally change the balance of power between government and individuals if it is not repealed or replaced.
While repeal will no doubt founder in the Senate in the next two years, Republicans can still use their House platform to frame the debate for 2012. They can hold hearings to educate the public about rising insurance costs and other nasty ObamaCare consequences. And they can use the power of the purse to undermine its implementation.
So there we are. The Democrats are very willing and able to take a long term approach to this. We need to be in this fight for the long haul, and avoid allowing ourselves the luxury of becoming discouraged. One of the things I have read and heard from my fellow conservatives is that we will be just as quick to fire the current GOP members as we were the 94 class. When we see Rinos, we turn red with anger. A lot of people refused to vote for Bush 41 because of his capitulation. The result was 8 years of a Clinton Presidency, putting teeth into the Community Reinvestment Act, and the current financial crisis. My fellow conservatives correctly identified John McCain as a Rino, and the result was Barak Obama being elected President and more economic and foreign policy damage than Carter and Clinton combined.
Get ready for my point. Tread lightly on the anger during the next 4 years. The stakes are somewhat larger now. I am not willing to say that lessons should not be given to the dolts who seek to be rulers rather than voices of the governed, just that we should weigh the decisions to teach those lessons more carefully. We can not afford to ever allow these progressives to have the unchecked ability to assault our freedoms again.