The Morning After The Election
As I awoke the morning of November 3rd, and as the campaign dust settled, I began to reflect on the meaning of an election night that swept more incumbents out of the Congress and State Legislature than any since 1946. With approval of Congress at 11 percent I am under no illusion that this was in some way an endorsement by the American people of the Republican Party. Rather it was a repudiation of the policies coming out of Washington from the governing party.
As the founding fathers declared, our Republic is based upon the consent of the governed. And while the party out of power historically wins more seats in a mid- term election, the overwhelming results of this election in my judgment conclude that the governed did not consent to the agenda.
Many of those who cast their vote for Republicans doubt whether we are up to the task of governing. Many may have voted for the idea of checks and balances rather than individual candidates or platforms. Many may wonder whether we have learned our lesson.
One thing is certain: with one out of ten Americans out of work, with a staggering $14 trillion debt, and with a world power in economic decline, this is no time to celebrate. There’s no room for hubris, arrogance or congratulations for victory. The stakes are simply too high. The American people deserve better. I didn’t run for office for power or to keep my party in the majority. I ran to serve and to make a difference.
The test of every generation is whether we leave a better America to the next. My father, a WWII veteran flew combat missions over Europe. His “greatest generation” left a better America to mine. I’m deeply concerned about my five children and the next generation. We must meet this challenge and pass the test.
The decisions we make at this very moment will determine whether our children will live in an economic superpower leading a global economy, or whether we’ll decline to second class status. If anything can be taken away from this election it’s that the most pressing issue before us is jobs and the economy and the American people spoke loud and clear that the status quo is unacceptable.
To govern effectively, we must advance solutions not obstacles and we must achieve consensus. Thomas Jefferson once said “governments are republican only in proportion as they embody the will of the people, and execute it.” To that end we must govern differently. Not just different from previous Democrat or Republican majorities but upon a style of governance envisioned by the Founders in accordance with the Constitution that embraces the limited role of government and the freedom and liberty of the individual in order to achieve the American Dream. One that empowers and incentivizes, not punishes.
We must also change the culture of Washington that somehow members of Congress are above the American people, and change the culture of entitlement and spending which has prevailed for too long. Appropriations should be devoid of pet projects funded through earmarks that have corrupted the system.
We need to encourage investment in America. With market uncertainty the number one obstacle to a recovering economy, we must put predictability in the tax code and lessen the burden so that small business, the engine of job growth, can not only survive but flourish. We must also invest in education, technology and research and development to maintain a highly skilled workforce if we are to remain globally competitive.
And, we must reform entitlement programs to reduce spending that is simply unsustainable.
I recently visited a wounded soldier returning from Afghanistan. He saved his own life on the battlefield using a tourniquet. Like many in this new generation he told me, “I’m going to be fine, and then I’m going back.” To me his statement embodied the American spirit. It was also illustrative of our present collective condition. I still believe that it is “Morning in America” and that our best years are ahead. I believe we can restore the fabric and greatness of our country. We owe nothing less to future generations. The voters will hold us accountable.