Two short years ago, with the election of Barack Obama securing the White House, and having already gained control of the Congress in 2006, the Democrats were absolutely giddy.
The defeat of the Republicans in 2006 and 2008 were seen with a sense of finality. There were some that even suggested that conservatism was dead. I thought such an analysis was ridiculous given the fact that John McCain had lost to Barack Obama by a mere 6% of the popular vote in a year when the odds were so heavily against the Republicans. Nonetheless, there was much talk about the Republican Party being in complete disarray.
The following Spring when the first Tea Party rallies took place they were seen by the media and the Democrats as insignificant demonstrations by a handful of fringe kooks. When the movement began to gain momentum the rallies were dismissed as simply the result of Republican “astroturfing”, and as such really didn’t represent a true grassroots movement on the part of real Americans.
By Summer, with the Health Care debate at its zenith, the Tea Party folks were getting organized and being heard. This was much to the chagrin of the Democrats, who derided the movement at every opportunity. The “Tea Baggers”, as they delighted in calling them, were “racists” and “rabble rousers”. When Congress went back home to their districts in August and began to hold town hall meetings, they walked into a buzz saw of angry folks who, for some reason unknown to Democrats, did not want Obamacare shoved down their throats.
By Winter, it was clear that the Health Care initiative was in real trouble. Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat in Massachusetts, of all places, on the promise that he would vote against Obamacare. With this win for the GOP, the Democrats lost their filibuster-proof number of seats in the Senate, and it seemed at the time that perhaps the President and the Congressional leadership would rethink their plans. Health Care legislation was unpopular with a majority of the American people. It was time to “pivot” as Bill Clinton had done. Obama would do the same. Virtually everybody said so.
It didn’t happen. After thinking of every possible legislative instrument and device that could be used to get Obamacare passed without having to deal with a filibuster, the original House bill was dropped in favor of the Senate bill which had passed prior to Brown’s election. Rep. Bart Stupak’s group of allegedly pro-life Democrats were brought into the fold with the President’s promise to sign an executive order that would affirm the principles of the Hyde Amendment. The House passed the bill and it was signed into law on March 23rd, 2010.
The Democrats were confident that, having passed the bill, not only could they run on their legislative accomplishments, but that people would eventually like the Health Care legislation. They just needed time to see what all was in it. The Democrats publicly asserted that GOP hopes of repealing the Health Care legislation and extending the Bush tax cuts were issues they couldn’t wait to talk about in the upcoming election cycle.
Throughout all of this, unemployment was rising. And it didn’t seem to get anyone’s attention at the White House. Apparently the White House thought the employment situation was “Mission Accomplished”. After all, they had passed the Stimulus Bill already.
So here we are, two years after the historic election of Barack Obama, on the eve of a Republican tsunami… and they still don’t get it.
This was never about fringe kooks, extremists, racists, or uninformed people throwing a temper tantrum. It was about ordinary people watching an incredible overreach by the President and his party, who were busy extending the size and scope of government beyond imagination. It was about government spending that not only staggered the imagination but that in some cases was utterly ineffectual and wasteful. It was about people worrying about this President’s policies making the economy far worse instead of better. It was about people worrying that maybe they would lose their jobs and not be able to find new ones. It was about people concerned about future generations and the out of control debt.
Tomorrow, these ordinary people will send the President and his party a message. It’ll be loud and clear, but they still won’t hear it. The media won’t either. There will be a lot of analysis about the failure of the Democrats to get their message out, and how the President is the victim of a dreadful economy that he inherited and that no one can fix. We’ll get more of Paul Krugman’s fearmongering and prognostications of doom about the GOP desiring government austerity. We’ll hear how bad the gridlock is going to be, etc.
In short, we’ll hear a lot of things. The one thing we won’t hear is the truth: That a majority of people in the United States want no part of governance as it has been demonstrated over the last couple of years by the current party in power.