Fast forward to 2010. This year, "It's about the spending, stupid."
When Bob Bennett went down in flames earlier this year, failing to get out of convention with enough support to even be a primary candidate, we were warned here in Utah that we would be sacrificing a senior Senator who knew how to bring home the bacon to our small state. Because of his powerful voice in Washington D.C., we were told, we would no longer have his "clout." He not only defended the earmarks during his campaign, he advocated for them, arguing, "If we don't take the earmarks they will just go to some other state." We were scolded, "You just don't know how things work in Washington." Well, he never understood the voters who perceived him as part of the big problem in Washington D.C.
The big problem is this: To perpetuate the status quo at all costs.
I noticed last week how slow the incumbents have been to learn the lesson. Americans are angry this year. So angry they appear to be poised to begin again and disembowel the establishment. Like me, the buyer's remorse over our national leadership is palpable.
Lisa Murkowski, incumbent Republican Senator from Alaska lost a narrow primary election last week. Why? Apparently her message that she brings home the bacon to Alaska was resoundingly rejected. Enough is enough, voters there have said. Politicians who were on deck for the last several years are going to pay dearly for their inept handling of the economic throttles. Now they will be throttled.
This is shaping up as more of a bloodbath for both parties, and I say it's about time. The Republican regulars are licking their chops in anticipation of a huge victory come November. We're only eight weeks out from November 2nd, and you can feel it in the air. CHANGE is on its way. If they don't blow it this time, Republicans are going to notch a big win.
But it's only a potential anti-Democrat win. What's the big plan, guys? Haven't heard much about that, only that Democrats are evil. Give us a reason to suggest you should be trusted again. Memo to Republican strategists: It had better be about more than promising to "crackdown" and investigate. We don't care about Obama's Justice Department letting the Black Panthers skate. We DON'T care about that. Where's the substance for your plan for economic reform? Stay on task, people!
The only question remaining is what will the margin be at the end of the day? Will they get to 218 in the House? Can they knock out the filbuster-proof majority in the Senate? Harry Reid's seat would be a good start on the path to that goal. They need a magic number of 39 seats to win control of the 435-member House. The Senate's harder, but doable.
And where's Nancy Pelosi? She won her seat in 2008 with a 72 percent majority, but her popularity among voters nationally as Speaker has shrunk to 11 percent, according to CBS in a poll among registered voters in March. She's been totally AWOL this summer. Yet she proclaims, "We're proud of what we've been able to accomplish." Really? Then tell us more, pray tell. Even the Democrats who are running for re-election have shunned her. Instead of trumpeting their legislative success these last nineteen months, they are all in total retreat. The tsunami is gaining momentum and there is nothing they can do in the next eight weeks to stem the tide.
As you may have discerned from this page, I have no confidence in either side of the aisle. Let the purge be massive and without party label. New blood on both sides is the required remedy this year.
In 1994, the Republicans swept the House races, picking up 52 seats and getting, for the first time in 40 years, a Republican majority and a Republican speaker, Newt Gingrich. It was unprecedented. The Democrats had held sway in the House forever, it seemed. That year even then-Speaker Tom Foley (D-WA), lost his seat. No problem this year for Pelosi, however. She'll retain her House seat, but she won't be Madam Speaker much longer.
I saw a Gallup poll among registered voters this week that had Republicans beating Democrats in a generic ballot by 10 points, 51 percent to 41 percent. Public trust is a fragile commodity. If those numbers are true, it appears voters are ready to forgive and hand the Republicans another chance.
In the 68-year history of that poll, the GOP had never led by more than five points. This is potentially earth-shattering news for Democrats who are going to receive a slap down heard round the world. In Europe they wonder aloud, "Why are the Americans flirting with socialism?" They understand what the brilliant tacticians in the Obama administration don't -- socialism is a failed experiment, and it has been proven a failure again and again. It will fail here in America too.
The incumbent Republicans, however, are in big trouble nationwide as the "enablers" to socialism. The Republican majorities under George W. Bush lost their way and acted more like tax-and-spend Democrats when they had the reins the last time. No incumbent wants to change the status quo. But voters do. If you were on watch in recent years, you will pay the ultimate political price for your duplicity this November.
RealClearPolitics in their polling data has Republicans ahead in 206 races and Democrats ahead in 194, with 35 too close to call. The Cook Political Report puts 68 Democratic House seats "at substantial risk," while judging less than a dozen GOP seats to be in real trouble.
A few weeks ago, the ever-erudite and ever-so-articulate White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, conceded the obvious -- Republicans could take the House. Yikes, what an admission that was! He's not alone, because other Democrats have said as much. Those Democrats are just so sneaky! They've got those always-say-no Republicans right where they want 'em.
If the GOP underperforms and doesn't sweep both Houses, Obama's supporters will just say, "See, voters don't trust the Republicans, and our man still has the hearts of the American voter."
The cash disparity between the parties this year is stunning. The Wall Street Journal's Neil King Jr. notes many of the closest races this year are dominated by the deep pockets of the Democrats. In twenty of those races "the Democrat has at least a four-to-one cash advantage over the Republican candidate." The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says it has nearly $17 million more to spend on key House races than its GOP counterpart. Then there are the unions: "The AFL-CIO says it will spend more than $40 million to back candidates and mobilize residents of union-member households to vote in November, overwhelmingly in support of Democrats."
No such thing as a sure thing. Republicans take note.
In 1994, Newt Gingrich was the chief architect of "The Contract with America." It resonated with voters. It was packed with conservative principles to cut spending, cut taxes, and deregulate industry, all designed to allow the economy to flourish. It was right out of Ronald Reagan's conservative playbook. One of the things that drives me crazy is Presidents taking credit for economic success and getting blamed for sour recessionary economies in reverse. With all due respect to those who assert otherwise, Ronald Reagan only had a bully pulpit which he fully utilized, but in the end it is Congress alone, the elected representatives of the people in our republic, who hold the purse strings. It is members of Congress who must ultimately be held accountable by voters, not Presidents, for the prosperity or the recessions through which we pass. Bill Clinton rode the horse triumphantly when he finally reached the promised land of a budget surplus, but the underpinnings were the result of Americans giving the purse strings to Gingrich, who made good on the Contract.
Bush and his majority Congress, not Obama and his majority, destroyed all those gains. This latest Democrat majority in both Houses just put the final nails in the coffin Republicans constructed on their watch.
"We'll pass health care, they'll love us."
"We'll have a Recovery summer, they'll love us."
"We'll run against Wall Street, they'll love us."
In case you didn't notice, unemployment numbers ticked up in August to 9.6 percent nationwide. Some recovery (little "r" not big "R"). All those glorious plans to connect with voters on these issues have met with astounding opposition. It isn't so much the messaging as it is the practical reality -- "It's about the spending, stupid."
Look for a lot of negative ads in the next eight weeks from the Democrats -- it's all they've got left.
I remember another stunning difference in 1994. I voted for Ross Perot because I was convinced his message if not heeded would put us right where we are with the two dominant parties today. Perot was my man twice. He was well-organized, unlike the Tea Party this year, but he had no visibility and had to scream like crazy to even be included in the debates between Bush and Clinton. One thing the Tea Party has going for it this year is visibility and it's gaining strength. Its candidates are running under the Republican banner, but make no mistake, these are not your parents' Republicans. They are much more independent and outspoken against the traditional GOP. They are younger, and they are more anchored to the people than ever before. That's a positive trend I'd like to see perpetuated.
That's exactly why I believe on principle they are going to win back at least the House if not the Senate too.
There is only ONE issue on the ballot in eight weeks. Who is bold enough to stop the spending? Who will stand up and be counted as a tightwad, a green-eye-shaded, cold and calculating accountant, who will speak the truth to the American people? Who will say, "The Emperor has no clothes?" Who will admit higher taxes currently imbedded in legislation passed over the last nineteen months in the middle of the night time and time again is disastrous, no matter how noble its intended purpose may have been? Who will say taxes and spending are out of control, and I will stand up for the American people in opposition to the continuation of the status quo?
There isn't a Democrat out there this year who can say with a straight face, "I was not part of this problem," nor is there a Republican incumbent who can remain untainted by his or her role in the complete abdication of their fiduciary duties to the taxpayers. Not one of the incumbents has shown the least restraint in subduing the spending spree. Everything they have done is to indicate they don't really want to stop spending. For too long our politicians have cared only about perpetuating themselves in the next election.
Bob Bennett was Exhibit A, and now we have another, Lisa Murkowski, as Exhibit B. I am certain there are other examples, and they must all be eliminated if we are to save the Republic. Save it from what, some have asked? From complete ruination and the effects of profligate spending to sustain the unsustainable staus quo. This is not hard to understand.
There is simply no place to run and hide this time. Judgment awaits its perpetrators. If you don't get it yet, let me say it one more time:
It's about the spending, stupid!