Much will be made of last week's midterm election. Pundits from both parties will spew ignorant platitudes. Cloyingly light on context and substance.
That's what parties do. They run for the current election while preparing for the next. The incessantly ineffective cycle of our two-party tyranny. Always so much to do. Even as so little is accomplished.
True, legislation is passed. Like cigarette warning labels. Dodd-Frank. The Affordable Care Act. Yet, America still smokes, remains economically stratified, massively unhealthy and under insured. And so will it remain. Until her citizenry realizes that government would rather treat symptoms than solve problems.
But, that's another day's missive. Today, we focus on last week. The landslide nationwide repudiation of Democrats. The GOP reclaimed the Senate chamber. Picking up seven seats. One more than necessary. And while the GOP already controlled the House, Republicans gained an additional 12 seats. Further, having held a 28 to 20 edge in Governor's mansions across the nation, Republicans grabbed another three states.
Democrat candidates nationwide were taken to the woodshed. As were their proxies and champions. Those who swooped in to campaign on their behalves. Hillary and Bill. Hollywood celebs. Joe Biden. And President Obama. Each of whose candidates were whooped.
Didn't matter who you were. Last Tuesday, if you were associated with the Democratic Party, you got your ass handed to you.
Was it a wave election? An anti-incumbency or anti-Obama phenomenon? Doesn't matter. Because, distilled through the light of reason, last Tuesday coughs up one central truth: this nation cannot be governed from the left. Because the nation has no desire to move in that direction.
Media elites, academics, the managerial class? They haven't grasped this reality. Yet, the American electorate has. Going back to the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt.
Politically, Roosevelt was a dynamo. The nation loved him. Yet, consider what happened to Roosevelt's New Deal -- the largest consolidation of government power in U.S. history. Following his 1936 reelection, Roosevelt attempted to expand his power grab, trying to pack the Supreme Court with left-leaning justices. Voters would have none of it, and smacked him back into reality by giving Republicans 80 House seats and six Senate seats in the 1938 midterms. The New Deal was not reversed, but the electorate would permit no further expansion.
Thirty years later, Lyndon Johnson utilized the emotional aftermath of the Kennedy assassination to rightly address lingering needs around the Civil Rights Act ('64) and the Voting Rights Act ('65). In so doing, however, he plotted additional Federal government expansion through his Great Society initiatives, which would fight poverty, establish Medicare and Medicaid, and fix housing, education and nutrition issues. Appears Johnson was no believer in baby steps. But again, after an initial acceptance of his plans, the American electorate quickly resisted any efforts to expand it further.
And so has been the state of American politics since. Just consider the evidence.
Carter tried to govern from the left. And failed miserably. Clinton tried to do so during his initial two years in office. Only to see his party's clock cleaned in the midterms. At which point he adroitly tacked back to the center. And left a legacy.
Not long thereafter, Mr. Obama came along. Aiming to achieve historical significance by building upon the big government foundations of Roosevelt and Johnson. He crafted huge government stimulus programs. The Affordable Care Act. Cap and Trade. Dodd-Frank. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Meddled in markets. Attempted to use the tax codes to redistribute income. Expanded the nation's regulatory apparatus. Leveraged the executive powers of his office far beyond the scope of any prior president. All in an effort to establish a new era of big government.
Believing, like many liberal politicians before him, that "Capitalism is just a feeding trough that government can use to fuel its expansion," as was written by New York Times columnist David Brooks.
The president said as much during his initial candidacy. Promising increased government regulation of markets. Massive government spending on energy alternatives. Massive government spending on infrastructure. Massive government intervention in the healthcare industry. Massive government intervention into the economic welfare of poorer nations. All well intended. And impossible.
Of course, the president's desire to move the nation to the left did not work. Largely because the American people never gave him a mandate to do so. Which brought him to force the Affordable Care Act into law without a single Republican vote.
Roosevelt and Johnson? Neither would have imagined such an aggressive track in their darkest liberal fever dreams. Realizing that broad, permanent initiatives required national consensus. Not unilateral action.
Just because one is democratically elected does not mean one can thwart the strictures of democracy.
Barack Obama took office with one of the largest reservoirs of goodwill ever granted any new president. He was young. Charismatic. Charming. Intelligent. Multicultural. He resonated across ethnicities and socio-economic levels. Still, he could not transcend the ideological divide.
This nation was born of the belief that individuals are largely responsible for their own lives. Forged in the cauldrons of accountability, independence, honesty and hard work. Yes, some of us need help. And Americans, more than any others, will hand money and a meal to the needy. Will work in the soup kitchens in which they're fed. But Americans will not sit idly while the government confiscates money for the executive salaries of yet another bureaucracy that tells them how, when and why their money will be spent. We'll burn a dollar to make a point. But, we won't tolerate the government doing so, each and every year, in the name of civic progress.
The nation must be governed. But it will not be governed from the left.
Voters did not turn away from Democrats last week because of an inordinate amount of faith in the GOP. Republican ineptitude has been writ large this last decade. And the electorate's exhaustion extends to both sides of the aisle.
No, last week was more about the nation's DNA than its ideological preferences.
Americans can live with the idea of dumb government. They will not tolerate, however, a monolithic one.