EDITORIAL: From anger to action

By NEMS Daily Journal

As 2010 draws to a close the promises made to angry voters in the watershed mid-term elections of November come closer to their first hard legislative and policy tests in a Republican-majority U.S. House and a weakened Democratic Senate, but with President Obama exiting the year with impressive compromise policy issue wins. The “angry” American voter became the operative descriptive of this year’s House and Senate campaigns – and with the Tea Party movement solidifying its persuasive anti-tax, very conservative presence.
Early in 2010 the mood of the electorate was noted by many commentators and reporters. The people, it was said, were tired of a demoralizing and persistent recession, persistent, high unemployment, and national debt that soared higher and deeper every day. It became apparent that the voters’ mood had become anti-Washington, anti-incumbent, and anti-government. Voters lashed out at the status quo, dumping incumbents in party primaries and then defeating scores of incumbents, mostly Democrats, in a huge repudiation of those perceived to be doing nothing to make things better. The angry voters in Northeast Mississippi dumped one-term Democratic incumbent Travis Childers who was successfully linked to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the despised liberal icon of everything conservatives think is wrong in Washington and the country.
Childers had defeated Republican Greg Davis two years ago to take seat formerly held by Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, but that turned out to be a brief expression of anger about both campaign tactics and the geography of the 1st District. Childers had conservative credentials on every values issue, but the value most important was the “D” after his name. GOP strategists successfully made virtually every Democrat appear liberal in Mississippi, arguably the most conservative state of all on many issues. President Obama, already unpopular in Mississippi, became the tar and feathers applied to every candidate who did not openly repudiate him.
Party loyalty meant a lot, but it helped only if the loyalty were Republican.
Now, in power in the House and emboldened in the Senate, the new conservatives must prove they meant what they said about spending, public debt, taxes and big government. Once in power the stark realities of two foreign wars, one the longest war in American history (in Afghanistan) and the other still requiring the presence of 50,000 American troops who are not fighting (in Iraq).
Both wars consume vast sums of the spending so criticized by many among the newly elected.
Perhaps the compromises achieved this month in Congress with President Obama and both parties point toward what we believe is the most crucial challenge: Republicans and Democrats choosing now to try and achieve something for America between now and the presidential election in 2012. Our nation’s recovery and its international standing rest on outcomes.
We can’t stand another two years of political posturing. Our nation needs action to control spending, rein in debt and an honest scenario laid out about what will be required of the American people. The road ahead will not be easy.
Congress generally is held in low esteem by voters of all kinds. If the new Congress cannot achieve more in terms of hard, necessary decisions than recent sessions some of those elected this year may have a harder time returning in 2012 than they can imagine.
Voters were arguably angriest because what Congress has done either hasn’t been enough or has not worked. President Obama, we hope, learned the value of bipartisanship in reflecting on the shellacking he admitted his party received at the polls in November.
The status quo by another name won’t get the job done, and the best choice is to change the status quo with bipartisan collaboration. Both sides have tried unyielding partisanship, and it hasn’t worked.