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When Will Voters Stop Throwing the Bums Out?

Scott Rasmussen makes a convincing case that the “tidal shift” we will see at the polls tomorrow is the Democrats’ own darn fault:

While most voters now believe that cutting government spending is good for the economy, congressional Democrats have convinced them that they want to increase government spending. After the president proposed a $50 billion infrastructure plan in September, for example, Rasmussen Reports polling found that 61% of voters believed cutting spending would create more jobs than the president’s plan.

Central to the Democrats’ electoral woes was the debate on health-care reform. From the moment in May 2009 when the Congressional Budget Office announced that the president’s plan would cost a trillion dollars, most voters opposed it. Today 53% want to repeal it. Opposition was always more intense than support, and opposition was especially high among senior citizens, who vote in high numbers in midterm elections.

The Democrats ridiculed the Republicans as the “party of no,” insisting that the GOP’s own relative lack of popularity would be enough to keep the Democrats in power. That thinking was wrong in 1994. It was wrong coming from the GOP in 2006. And it’s just as wrong in 2010. The opposition party, when the majority party is messing up, need only be resolute in its opposition. And that — even their critics admit — the Republicans certainly have been for two years. Anticipating Tuesday’s tsunami, Rasmussen concludes:

This reflects a fundamental rejection of both political parties. More precisely, it is a rejection of a bipartisan political elite that’s lost touch with the people they are supposed to serve. Based on our polling, 51% now see Democrats as the party of big government and nearly as many see Republicans as the party of big business. That leaves no party left to represent the American people.

Well, unless one of the parties decides to do just that. It’s not set in stone that both will continue to defy the voters. I am less optimistic that Obama will toss aside his statist agenda or become less antagonistic toward the private sector. There is, I think, a greater opportunity for the Republicans not only to oppose Obama but also to offer their own reformist agenda, which is in sync with the public’s desire for fiscal sobriety, smaller government, and personal responsibility (reestablishing the principle of “moral hazard” in the business context). GOP governors can opt out of ObamaCare’s individual mandate. Congress can pass an extension of the Bush tax cuts. Both Senate and House Republicans can work on real tax and education reform, take a David Cameron–like approach to slashing government spending, and get serious about domestic energy production.

You say that Obama won’t go along with most of this? Well, probably not. Still, the GOP shouldn’t, if it wants to end the cycle of “throw the bums out” elections, shirk from offering the public a taste of a conservative alternative to Obamaism. Senate Democrats may filibuster spending cuts or a repeal of ObamaCare, and Obama may veto these and other measures. But that will set the table for 2012 and provide voters with a clear choice. And it might just be that those Democrats who fear another tsunami in 2012 would join with Republicans on a number of measures – leaving the White House with few allies. After all that Obama did for (to?) them, I imagine some Democrats would be more than happy to return the “favor” and look out for their own political futures.


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