Commentary Magazine


The Democrats’ Day of Reckoning

According to the Hill newspaper,

Most voters think Congress’s ethics have gotten worse in the past two years, according to a new poll in key battleground districts. The finding suggests that people likely to have a big say in who controls the House in the next Congress believe that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has failed to keep her 2006 promise to “drain the swamp” of congressional corruption.  The Hill/ANGA 2010 Midterm Election Poll finds that 57 percent of likely voters in 12 competitive districts believe that the ethical situation on Capitol Hill has deteriorated since President Obama took office. Thirty-two percent of respondents say there has been no change, and only 7 percent claim it has improved.

In key battleground districts, then, roughly eight times as many people believe the ethical situation on Capitol Hill has gotten worse since Obama took office than believe otherwise. Those numbers would be devastating in any case; but they are particularly damaging for a party that made ethics reform central to its identity.

As the Hill reminds us, Nancy Pelosi promised to “drain the swamp” if Democrats were to take control of the House. Indeed, she went even further, promising us the “most open and most ethical Congress in history.” And, of course, “changing Washington ” when it came to partisanship and government corruption was Barack Obama’s claim to appeal when he ran for president.

So many promises by Obama and the Democratic have gone by the wayside in the last 20 months that it’s hard to keep up with them. Individually, each of these broken commitments is a serious problem; taken together, they are politically crippling. It helps explain why we are seeing an extraordinary public uprising against the political class in general and against those who control the executive and legislative branches in particular.

Trust in government is near an all-time low — and those deemed primarily responsible for bringing us to the pass are about to pay a fearsome political price.