By now you’ve probably cast your vote (if you haven’t stop reading this right now and vote!) and are anxiously awaiting the election results. The results, whatever they may be, will be endlessly debated for the next month. Is it a mandate? Is it a rebuke? Are Dems done? Are Republicans back? Those and countless other questions will be asked and “answered” by the pundits who dominate our airwaves.
But let me be the first to tell you the secret behind these elections. In the grand scheme of things the results tonight don’t matter. Now, let me tell you what that does and doesn’t mean.
That doesn’t mean that your vote was wasted and it surely doesn’t mean these elections weren’t important. Quite the contrary this is quite possibly the most important election season of our lifetimes. Politicians in Washington of all political stripes are digging a fiscal hole for this country that we will find it difficult to escape from. Business as usual has become unusually bad business. Our deficits have exploded, our debts have become unsustainable, and government spending continues its upward march. These elections are voters chance to show elected officials that their desires have fundamentally changed.
Previous electorates, and thus previous representatives, were concerned about getting as much as they can. We wanted more…more of everything. More generous Social Security payments, bigger Medicare plans, more education spending, and more government money being brought to our districts. The government was all too happy to oblige. More programs meant more votes. But the fact that existed behind the curtain was that it also meant more debt or more taxes. Now the paradigm has shifted. The curtain has been pulled back and voters now understand that our free-spending days are over. We no longer want a representative who will do the best he can to spend as much money as he can. Instead, we want someone who will do his best to keep our money in our pockets.
The ability to send that message to Washington is what makes your vote and these elections so important. That said, in the larger picture tonight doesn’t matter. Tonight doesn’t matter in the grander scheme because there is so much more to be done. This is but one battle in what will be a decades long war to restore our nation’s chances of continued prosperity.
This is the mistake President Obama and Democrats made in 2008. They won and they won big. And yet here they are two years later preparing to get trounced at the polls.
If you imagine back two years ago, as Barack Obama was dominating the polls and Democratic candidates were preparing for huge wins, much of the nation was elated. Change was coming. It was the end of business as usual in Washington. It is almost the exact same message, if not tone, that you are hearing in today’s elections.
The problem is that Democrats didn’t follow through. The very things that got people excited to vote were the things that the elected officials allowed to fall through the cracks. As it turns out, not all that surprisingly, voters pay attention to whether or not you fulfill your promises.
Republicans in this election have also made big promises. We’re promising to change the culture of Washington (sound familiar?), cut spending, put the nation back on a fiscally sustainable course, and create an environment that allows businesses to thrive. These are all great and laudable promises. With the growing ire of the electorate aimed straight at Democrats promises of something different are all you need to win this election. But, neither the elections nor the promises mean anything unless Republicans live up to them.
We cannot make the same mistake that Democrats made and believe that winning elections is enough. Tonight’s results, regardless of whether they reach the level of an earthquake, hurricane, or tsunami, are not an end in and of themselves. They do not grant Republicans the right to legislate according to their desires, they merely grant Republicans the opportunity to listen and follow the will of the people.
So tonight as the election results roll in, Republicans will likely have reason to celebrate. But unless we follow through with the promises we have made we will find ourselves once again on the wrong side of a wave come 2012.
by Brandon Greife, Political Director of the College Republican National Committee