The commentators are cooling off on the major networks. Weeks of non-stop punditry, debate and prognostication have ended. The midterm elections are over save for a few run-offs or possible recounts. The Republicans now control the House and Senate for the first time since the George Bush-era and effectively for only the second time since the Eisenhower-era. But have we learned anything? And what are the national implications that directly affect the good citizens of Utah? Can we draw any certain conclusions for the future?
One thing seems to be pretty clear. With an unexpected seven seat swing or more in the Senate, midterm voters are making a distinct comment on the far left policies and lack of leadership from the White House and the Congress of the last two years. We do not seem to be enjoying the mayhem such so-called politics of hope and change have created. The economy continues to struggle, creation of good new jobs lags, our foreign policy is laughable and little seems to move through the Senate with Harry Reid torpedoing anything that smacks of conservatism. Ineffective or outright controversial policies and actions from many points of the compass surrounding the current administration leave American voters scratching their heads. Where has principled leadership gone? With a divided House and Senate, very little has occurred in the last two years to move this country forward in a perceived positive manner.
But will a majority change in the Senate change the direction of the country? Certainly it opens the door for more productive and principled conservative policy that could be centered on important issues like curtailing national debt, securing the borders, bolstering foreign policy and creating new economic stimulus through reduced regulation and positive energy policy.
But what specifically are some of the actual directives a Republican controlled Congress will pursue? Outside of broad generalities I do not recall hearing specific proposals and principles championed in the election rhetoric that moves the needle. Repeal Dodd-Frank? Move the XL Pipeline forward in an environmentally responsible way? Actually create a comprehensive domestic energy policy that could single-handedly wean us from foreign oil and curtail this seemingly unending recession, not to mention sending Utah’s economy through the roof? Create real and accessible policies for immigrants to legally obtain citizenship and contribute to our society and economy as producing and tax paying citizens? Forward a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution? Repeal or greatly re-tool Obama Care to end employer uncertainty and let loose new full-time jobs? How about actual accountability for government officers who seem to act contrary to their office or the law?
Any one of these and many other issues will have a direct, if sometimes subtle, impact on the life and livelihood of every Utahn. Though Utah seems healthier than many other states, our future, especially the future of our children, relies heavily on a national economic resurgence. At least we can take some pride in the historical claim of sending the first black Republican woman to the House of Representatives. So much for the supposed misinterpreted biases historically associated with Utah. Congratulations Mia Love, now go and do something with your new colleagues that can productively alter the tenuous direction in which this country is headed.
I suppose the one conclusion that can be drawn is that a change in the majority party control of Congress has not yet changed anything but the names on their doors come January. I am reminded of a humorous comment from Senator Bob Bennett at a luncheon some years ago. He eloquently stated “The only difference between a Democrat and Republican are the types of programs they choose to overspend on.” Only the next two years will prove if real, effective and meaningful change can be implemented that will bring renewed prosperity and a more cohesive national sense of purpose to this country. But with six years under our belt of neo-socialism, fragmentation and politics of division and big government being practiced by President Obama and his acolytes that is a tall order.
Republicans have a two-year window to renew and redefine who they are and prove why they are better for our country than the past iterations of Congress. Under President Bush, the last Republican controlled Congress in fifty years did not exactly wow anyone. And with President Obama waiting in the White House “with a phone and a pen”, it will take real, focused, well-defined and principled leadership and action to make this go-round any different. Otherwise, the mayhem will continue.