At the time this column is being written the Democrats have won control of the US House of Representatives and will probably control the Senate as well. One fact is clear, the public is not happy with Republicans. In my opinion the Republicans got just what they deserved in the 2006 mid-term elections. While Democrats are gleeful today, perhaps this midterm “shock” was just what the Republicans needed to re-acquaint themselves with the real world.
I remember 1994 when Republicans supported a legislative platform called the “Contract with America,” which promised to get federal spending under control, reduce the tax burden and shrink the size of the federal government. That “Contract” was widely embraced by the American people earning Republicans control of the House of Representatives. In the 1995 federal budget drafted by the Republicans stated:
“America stands at a crossroads. Down one path lies more and more debt and the continued degradation of the Federal Government and the people it is intended to serve. Down the other lies the restoration of the American dream…we choose the second of these roads. We do it because it’s right. We do it because it’s sensible. We do it because America’s future does not belong to the Congress, or the administration, or any political party. It belongs to the people themselves.”
Those were inspiring words. US voters readily accepted those sentiments and handsomely rewarded the Republican Party at the polls. Unfortunately over the past 12 years the Republicans have squandered their inheritance. Federal spending has grown 49% since 1995, even after adjusting for inflation. The public debt was $4.9 trillion in 1995 and now stands at $8.2 trillion. The Republicans promised term limits for federal offices but didn’t deliver. They aligned themselves too rigidly with America’s Christian Right, attempting to pass a marriage amendment to the federal constitution, opposing abortion rights, advocating “intelligent design” in school curriculums, and standing in the way of embryonic stem cell research. They became power-hungry and arrogant, forgetting the contract that they had made with the American people.
The Republicans narrowly elected George Bush to a second term in 2004. Contrary to what Democrats say, Bush isn’t a stupid man but he is a poor public speaker and an ineffective communicator. His defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, totally botched the War in Iraq by not putting enough boots on the ground early. Iraqi’s looted the country and radical insurgents were not subjected to discipline in the streets. Early, strict and brutal action by American forces was the only way to negate the long-standing culture of violence in Iraq, but neither political party had the stomach to “play the game” by the rules of the insurgents. The Iraq dilemma was inevitable; when “politically correct” faces a “throat-slitting terrorist”, the terrorist will win every time.
There have been some bright spots in Iraq (free elections, and the re-establishment of freedom of religion), but the arrogance and inaction of Rumsfeld finally ran its course. On Saturday, November 4, 2006 the Army Times Web site called for the resignation of Rumsfeld saying that he has “lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large.” The same editorial appeared in the Air Force Times, the Navy Times, and the Marine Corps Times. According to the editorial American training forces have told their superiors that Iraqi troops “have no sense of national identity, are only in it for the money, don’t show up for duty, and cannot sustain themselves.” Colonels and Generals have asked for more troops and Rumsfeld has ignored their requests. It is a relief to all concerned that Rumsfeld was forced to resign the day after the election. Good riddance to him.
While some will blame the Republican defeat primarily on the War in Iraq, it is my contention that Tuesday’s election results were simply the final bump in a fourteen-year downward trend of Republican political influence. That decline was caused by Republican arrogance and broken promises. Going into this election the Democrats never had a “plan” for Iraq, for the economy, or anything else. They didn’t need any plan. All they had to do was be anti-Republican and anti-Bush to win the election. Now the Democrats can no longer get away with complaining; they have a job to do. I sincerely wish them good luck.
Having lost credibility as the party of limited government and stumbling under the leadership of a President who couldn’t or wouldn’t make the right moves in Iraq, Republicans got their “just desserts” on Tuesday. Although I almost threw up on the floor while doing it, I voted for most of those Republicans. Today I don’t feel sorry for them in the least.