As of now, we have won nothing. The 2012 election was merely one battle in a war of ideologies, and those who call themselves our allies aren’t always fighting with us.
Mitch McConnell and other Senate GOP leaders had to be bullied into embracing the “no earmarks” pledge, and others still don’t get it. It’s not that earmarks represent a huge portion of Federal spending; in fact, they’re quite small. Earmarks are symbolic of the wasted billions and now trillions of dollars American taxpayers now owe. As deficits are now in the trillion dollar range, “Congressionally Directed Spending” on local projects (that are almost inevitably named for the earmark’s sponsor) seem like hubris at the expense of ordinary people.
Then add to this there is still no coherent Republican plan for cutting spending, just some vague ideas and talking points. The Obama Tax Increases (since they were the Bush Tax Cuts, this name seems apropos) look like a near certainty. Republicans can’t even agree on whether to have a vote on repealing the Health Care Takeover.
It’s a disorganized, disjointed mess; but then, that shouldn’t be surprising. It’s Washington, after all.
The Republicans need to remember that the election two weeks ago wasn’t an endorsement of the GOP agenda (there would have to be a coherent agenda, first). Rather, it was a repudiation of the Democrat’s agenda, just as the 2006 and 2008 elections were a repudiation of the “Big Government Conservative” era. If the Republicans can’t figure this out, then we will see another massive swing, this time to the Left, in 2012.
Regardless of their stance, some of the existing GOP leadership must go, or at least be pushed aside. James Inhofe and Mitch McConnell may lead the Senate GOP now, but McConnell’s support of the earmarks ban is tepid and transparent politicking, while Inhofe refuses to endorse it. These men were part of the Big Government Conservative Cabal that drove up spending from 2000-2006. Both have been in Washington more than two decades. It’s time for them to move aside.
The Republican victory on its own is not enough to assure a return to fiscal sanity. The same politicians who have been saying for decades that, “We can’t cut spending! There’s no room in the budget!” are the same politicians who still lead the GOP in the Upper House. Add to this the veto pen still held by President Obama and Harry Reid is still the Senate Majority Leader. The deck chairs may have been rearranged, but we’re still on the Titanic.
In two years, America gets to fix its electroal mistakes. The Democrats have more open seats than the Republicans in the Senate, and at least some of the Senate GOP leadership will face primary challenges. The other side has already started campaigning, and their Get Out The Vote effort will be stronger than the weak, last-minute effort they threw together this year. They’ve been knocked back staggering, they’re on the ropes, but they are not down for the count. Another round looms in this heavyweight bout between Big Government and Fiscal Responsibility.
McConnell and Inhofe should look with trepidation at the example of Bill Bennett. This is no longer a simple fight between Republicans and Democrats. It is no longer a conflict between merely conservatives and liberals. It is a fight between individual liberty and socialism; between personal responsibility and the Nanny State. “Conservative” legislators have little choice, if they wish to keep their jobs, than to disavow big government.