We Don't Like Either of You

Numerous opinion polls show that after the November elections, the Republican Party will have regained enough seats in the House to take back the majority position and the Speakership. Results for the Senate are less amenable to forecast, but even so, gains up to and including a remote chance for a majority are possible there as well. 

It is necessary to remind Republicans of one salient fact about this predicted shift in political strength as a result of the 2010 midterm elections, and it is a fact that can be expressed in just a few words:

You may have a majority, but you do not have a mandate to govern in any way that you choose.

The Democrats have had a majority for four years, and they have controlled both Houses of Congress and the White House for the past two years. Their disastrous ouster in November will be because they tried to govern as if they had a mandate, and quite clearly, they didn't. 

Significant majorities of American citizens have been opposed to many of the initiatives that have come out of Washington since January 20, 2009. The so-called Stimulus, Obamacare, the auto company bailouts, and other programs have all been based on Democratic Party claims that they held a popular mandate for "change." That these changes have been opposed by large majorities of voters in every case hardly indicates that such a mandate ever existed, except in the minds of political speechwriters and MSM apologists. 

It should be clear that the Democratic Party majorities were a direct result of dissatisfaction with the direction the nation had taken in terms of limitations of personal freedom, the seemingly endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the increasing threats of Islamic fundamentalism, and the other items on a stunning list of Republican failures. In retrospect, it seems clear that the 2006 and 2008 elections were no so much a vote for Democrats as they were against Republicans. 

The 2010 midterm election appears to be shaping up as a vote against Democrats. Republicans should give that sentence a bit of thought. Americans are not voting for you. They know you are just as likely as Democrats to be venal, corrupt, stupid, doctrinaire, foolish, and shortsighted. Unfortunately, Republicans are the only option available.

This theme has been echoed several times in recent days. Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal interviewed Grover Norquist, one of the original contributors to the Contract with America, who, 25 years ago, founded the organization Americans for Tax Reform. Mr. Norquist, a man who could hardly be called nonpartisan, compared the upcoming midterms to 1994, when the Republicans took the House. In his words:

There wasn't a Tea Party movement in '94. There was a Perot movement, which was much less visible and organized. This time we have a thousand mini-Perots (in the Tea Party leadership) who are against the Democrats and for the Republicans.

Well, the voters are certainly against the Democrats. As for being for Republicans, Walter Shapiro offered this assessment in his Politics Daily article describing President Obama's continuing rejection of the reality of voter motivation in 2008:

Obama has often spoken with frustration about his failure to receive enough credit from either the media or the voters for his long string of landmark legislative victories climaxing with health-care reform.  But maybe the president's fatal error was that he saw the 2008 election as a mandate for far-reaching change when, in truth, it was a narrower rejection of Bush administration economic and military policies.

In essence, the balance of power in Washington is an endless ebb and flow of disgust for both parties, since each seems to react to the delusion that accompanies election to office. The delusion consists of the belief that (a) the voters love them, and (b) they have a mandate to govern.

The sudden and surprising emergence of the Tea Party movement is perhaps a response by voters to the seemingly endless series of elections that consists of voters going to the polls to "throw the bums out." It appears that the ordinary citizens of the United States want to be able to vote for something and are tired of being forced to merely choose which candidates to vote against.

Both parties should also be very, very afraid of the Tea Parties. Democrats still don't take them seriously and try to marginalize them by referring to them as "teabaggers," homophobes, racist, bigots, and so on. Perhaps the Democratic Party should keep track of the number of Tea Party-endorsed candidates who move into offices currently held by Democrats next January -- it should be very educational. They should also remember that pain is Mother Nature's tuition bill, and they are about to learn something.

Republicans view the Tea Parties differently but show the same condescension. Professional Republicans seem to think that Tea Partiers are available for their use as shock troops and can be ignored until the next election. That's why they seem so shocked when a candidate endorsed by the Tea Party wins a primary against their own chosen candidates. I refer Republicans to the paragraph above regarding tuition payments.

In short, both parties have to understand that the majority of American voters don't like either party. Until either party can produce candidates whom we are willing to vote for, instead of choosing which one to vote against, the Tea Parties and registered independents will continue to grow in size and influence until both Democrats and Republicans are listed in the encyclopedia next to the Whigs and the Bull Moose Party.

Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller, Vietnam veteran, and libertarian (small "l"). Jim blogs at jimyardley.wordpress.com, or he can be contacted directly at james.v.yardley@gmail.com.