Do You Hear What I Hear? Part 2
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The greatest test for our government during the next two years will be whether it will attempt to hear the voice of the American people. As I have been flipping through the cable news networks, both political Right and Left seem to be in “spin mode.” Unfortunately, the Left seems to be guilty of the most strident, rationalization of the facts. I say “unfortunately” because that makes them dangerous in both the lame duck session before us and threatens genuine bi-partisan work in the early days of 2011.
Perhaps both parties will remember the famous Clinton slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid!” Without proper attention to the economy and job creation, all incumbents will be in danger of a “shellacking.”
The “lame duck” Democratic leadership should take a page out of most anger management courses. First, they should take a deep breath. Second, they should “act” instead of react. Third, they should face the facts: they lost badly. They no longer have a mandate. Ironically, I recently heard a liberal commentator infer that the “moderate Democrats” lost because they were not liberal enough. My question was, “how does he explain the massive national turn toward the Republicans?”
On the surface, at least, that seems like convoluted logic. Or it sounds like “the dog ate my homework” kind of excuse. The truth is that the DNC did not support their more moderate, “blue dog” members. At the risk of sounding negative, I must repeat another truth. The forecast for the economy does not suggest that a speedy recovery is imminent. Further, the president’s counselors and their policies, thus far have done nothing but create an atmosphere of economic uncertainty on Wall Street. Although the administration has attempted to sell the nation on the concept that Republicans cannot be trusted with financial decisions, their own incompetence is beginning to show.
The voters want solutions or something a little more substantial than rhetoric. Therefore, it is also surprising that Mr. Obama has recently used “the party of No” language after the elections. Independents, blue dog Democrats, and Tea Partiers know the truth. The real party of “No” is the Democratic Party. During the last two years, Republican bills could not even get to the floor of Congress. Conservative objections to sweeping social changes were overruled without credible discussion; the values of moderates and independents were trampled under foot.
A very concerning example of this was the way the DC redefinition of marriage law was handled. Although the Congress has veto rights of DC laws, Nancy Pelosi personally blocked every attempt to have the matter discussed. The DC law violates the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), but the speaker guaranteed ultra-liberal Eleanor Holmes Norton (shadow Congressman from DC) that the law would never see the legislative scrutiny it should have. No wonder some Washingtonians have dubbed Pelosi the “Wicked Witch of the West.” Further, it was hypocritical for Holmes and the DC City Council who have spent a decade or so fighting for their right to vote on the Hill to deny the residents of the District the right to vote on such an important matter. In fact, the voters cared about this issue as shown by a Washington Post poll that showed at least 60% of the people of the city wanted to vote on the definition of marriage.
Based on Pelosi’s track record, she will hurt the Democratic Party’s team the next 24 months. Any impartial experts would say to the party, “You are positioning Pelosi to be your party’s scapegoat for poor performance and the loss of the presidency in 2012.” The party needs new leadership who can prioritize solving real problems with common sense, common-ground solutions - not healthcare or cap and trade.
As I shift my attention to the Republicans, I am heartened by the fact that they will work on repealing healthcare. Nonetheless, I am concerned that they remember the big picture aspects of their recent “Pledge to America” - especially the pledge to create jobs, now that they have gained an advantage in the House. Here is my advice:
1. Don’t squander your gains
2. You asked for a second chance and you got it! Therefore, fulfill the promises you made during your campaign. Nonetheless, avoid pyrrhic victories. In addition to repealing healt care, there must be positive measures on the books as well.
3. Acknowledge Tea Party People among you. Dyed-in-the-wool Republicans must include these newcomers, who seemingly
pushed their way into the government. The Tea Party element has brought passion to the conservative movement.
4. Work with Democrats not against them. All management gurus tell us that change occurs best when a small leadership group develops a strategic game plan that begins little and moves progressively to larger things. The fact that the current administration violates this concept is why they failed so quickly.
5. Develop a list of small, medium, and large things to work on with the Democrats and the administration. It will undoubtedly be a slow process. Nonetheless, if they doe this well, and publicize their acheivements; there will be a new Republican president is the White House in two years.
6. Don’t ignore the deep desires of the majority of the voters. Republicans need to talk with and listen to independents and moderate Democrats as they craft legislation. Anyone who is still under the misguided supposition that Americans don’t care what happens in Washington is delusional at best. We are watching and we will be voting in 2012.
In conclusion, let me repeat that we are in the most important two year period, I can recall. The people have spoken but both parties need to get their hearing aids adjusted. In my next article, I will discuss how conservatives can make i roads with the Jewish and evangelical Christian communities. This will be a must, if conservatives want victory in 2012.