Will Dems or GOPers “get the message” from last Tuesday?

the 44th President of the United States...Bara...
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Some guy over at Popehat doesn’t think they will:

Chance of the Republicans “Getting It” About Small Non-Economic-Sector Government: Thumbs Down.There is no good indication that Republicans, whether traditional or Tea Party, grasp — or care — that military adventurism, the post-9/11 Security State, the War on Drugs, or government enforcement of conservative social agendas all tend to grow government power and cost lots of money. […]

Chance of Democrats “Getting It”: Don’t make me laugh.

and that’s the real rub of it, isn’t it? Last Tuesday was an election, and that election was a referendum on how our country has been run for the last decade, not just the last two years. As Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes put it last night: “Republicans say the voters sent […]a very clear message on Tuesday. That they want a smaller, less costly, more accountable government.”  People may be pointing their fingers at Obama and Pelosi right now, but a lot of them were doing the same at Bush just a couple years ago when the voted Obama into office in the first place. That they’ve now flipped a voted the other direction is just a way of saying “You didn’t get the message in the first place, and so we’re sending it again.”

Maybe it’s the pessimist in me, but I’m not yet sanguine enough about the election results delivering the change that Americans want. It was just two years ago that they voted on just that theme, and already they’re turning on the party they put in power. Nor am I of the opinion, as Vanity Fair editor Graydon Cartor recently opined,  that Americans are just like “hormonal teenagers,” “seems prone to acting out irrationally, is full of inchoate rage, and is constantly throwing fits and tantrums[.]” He undersells and insults common Americans’ intelligence, all while delivering a pass to the power of the ruling party. We are a republic, the American republic, and it is the right, and responsibility, of the voting public to pass judgement on the policies passed by those whom we elect. Americans went to the polls on Tuesday last, they looked at their representatives, and they held them responsible (except in California, but then, California walks to the beat of a different drum, anyway).

So why am I not optimistic? It’s probably just my nature. But also, I’ve begun to develop a “wait and see” attitude about the promises of any politician, especially those made on the campaign trail. Heck, President Obama as much as admitted on Sixty Minutes last night that campaign rhetoric is suspect, including his own. It’s just too easy to say what voters want to hear:

[Y]ou know, when you’re campaigning, I think you’re liberated to say things without thinking about, “Okay, how am I gonna actually practically implement this.”

And then they get to Washington, and they have to govern. Can they govern on what they have said? Can Republicans do what they promised to do without falling prey to the same hubris they have been campaigning about? Can they avoid the temptation to expand the size and growth of government?

As we think about that, and even the question of whether such is actually a problem, I think it’s interesting to note what President Obama said in response to Steve Kroft when asked if he, President Obama, had got the message that voters wanted smaller, less costly, and more accountable government:

I think that, first and foremost, they want jobs and economic growth in this country. They want to feel that the next generation is gonna be able to benefit from the American dream the way previous generations have. That our kids and our grandkids are gonna have a better life than ours, not one that’s diminished. That’s the most important thing that people are looking for.

I also do think that the American people are concerned that the debt and deficits that have been built up over decades — and they got worse as a consequence of this economic recession — are things that have to be fixed. And we’ve gotta fix them so that the next generation doesn’t have to fix ’em.

That sounds an awful lot like “It’s the economy, stupid.” And in many respects, I agree with him. It is the economy. The problem and the disconnect for President Obama and why the wave last Tuesday? Many in this country do not believe that the economy will return to prosperity and growth by continueing the policies and programs that have been the hallmark of the last two years, or even the last decade.

It is the economy. But it is not the government that can save us.

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