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The “Democrats” got a lesson in democracy last week. In the largest sweep of the House of Representatives since 1948, Republicans secured a net gain of 60 seats. They needed 39 seats to win a majority. “Democrats” retained a bare majority in the Senate.
I live in the 9th Congressional District and I was happy to help fire Rick Boucher and hire Morgan Griffith to represent us in the House. The lesson we delivered to Boucher is that a Congressman can’t stab his constituents in the back, then expect them to vote for him.
Boucher voted for President Barack Obama’s carbon cap and trade bill last summer. I always thought that Boucher, a 14-term incumbent, was too savvy to do something that stupid, but I guess I was wrong. Maybe Boucher thought his constituents were too stupid to understand what he tried to do to them.
A major portion of the 9th District consists of coal-mining counties. The cap-and-trade legislation that he voted for would have put a lot of folks in those counties out of work. His constituents understood this and, fortunately, the democratic basis of our republic is still sound. Our government has its limits and congressmen have to answer to the voters for what they have done. Rick Boucher will not be returning to Washington in January.
President Obama also got a lesson in democracy. He has his limits and he can’t simply impose his will with his presence. “Democratic” Party activists may think that the glory of his splendor, like the sun rising in the east, brings light and life to all it touches. Most other people, however, have reached the point where his rhetoric no longer has any impact.
The week before the election, President Obama came to Charlottesville to stump for Congressman Tom Perriello. The evidence that President Obama’s effort failed became apparent when Robert Hurt defeated Perriello by 50.74 percent to 47.06, with a conservative independent candidate siphoning off some of the vote that would have otherwise gone to Hurt. The president was unable to overcome, by an exercise of hot air, the feeling among a majority of voters that a change was needed and that meant firing Perriello and hiring Hurt.
America’s democratic system remains alive and well and Republicans need to keep the lessons in mind that the voters delivered to the “Democrats.” They, too, can be flushed out of office. John Boehner, the Republican who will be the next Speaker of the House, said as much after the election. He also noted that voters didn’t so much vote for Republicans as against “Democrats.” Back in 2006 and 2008, “Democrats” failed to understand that voters didn’t so much vote for “Democrats” as vote against Republicans.
It’s up to us to make sure that this isn’t just empty rhetoric. That’s why I hope the tea party movement remains active and all those tea party people don’t just disappear. Voters need to watch these folks carefully and make sure that they don’t forget that, after the last decade, we are disgusted with both parties and we aren’t going to tolerate business as usual.
I hope that Boehner meant what he said. Republicans are breathing a scab on their nose if they go back to the nonsense that prevailed during the Bush years. The tea party movement has worked within the Republican Party, and revitalized it after it got thumped in 2006 and 2008. The same tea party movement could also have the makings of a vibrant new conservative political party if Republican stalwarts simply try to brush them aside now that the most recent election is over.