Monday, November 1, 2010

Republicans Better Remember What Got Them Elected

Tomorrow is November 2nd, 2010, a day which is supposed to live in infamy for Democrats. Many long-time incumbents with the letter 'D' after their names are expected to be looking for work soon. Many pundits who have put more thought into the whys are out there, and I encourage you to look them up and read what they have to say. For myself, I am looking forward to what I hope are election wins for North Dakotans Rick Berg (running for the U.S. House of Representatives) and John Hoeven (for U.S. Senate). If those two do win tomorrow, it will mark the end of the long and distinguished careers of Earl Pomeroy and Byron Dorgan, respectively (note that Dorgan decided not to run for re-election and so his time in the Senate is coming to an end regardless).

Pomeroy and Dorgan have served North Dakota honorably. I certainly didn't agree with all their policies over the years I've lived here, but I believe that they believed they were doing what was best for the state. In particular their support for farm subsidies, which I think needs to be reconsidered -- in light of the current economic situation -- now more than ever, was understandable in a state with such a large farming community.

What confirmed my vote for their opponents was their support for the healthcare bill. This was a clear case of politicians voting their allegiance to the party leadership rather than the wishes of their constituency. The bill was not popular in North Dakota. These men knew this, and publically denounced various bits and pieces of the bill, attempting to deflect criticism and promote the idea that they would not support it. But when push came to shove they voted with the party and it's going to cost them, I think.

But if the expected Republican wave does come ashore tomorrow, it won't leave behind any kind of Republican mandate, nor will it usher in any kind of permanent Republican majority. This election is less about restoring Republicans to Congress and more about punishing Democrats who made the mistake of thinking the election of Barack Obama gave them a blank check. The elections 2006 and 2008 weren't repudiations of conservatism; they were repudiations of the ways in which Republicans had mangled it.

Make no mistake: the Bush years were a lesson in how Republicans can be just as bad as Democrats when it comes to growing government and (not) controlling spending. Now that the electorate seems to regret turning things completely over to the Democrats, Republicans better remember that their sudden embrace of fiscal responsibility is what is getting them elected. Once in office, lip service isn't going to cut it. I, for one, will be watching.

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