Eleven months ago during President Barack Obama's first State of the Union speech he promised Americans that jobs would be his number one focus during 2010.
Under the dark shadow of unemployment numbers approaching 10 percent and the economy still stuck in a rut, American voters Tuesday voiced their opposition to the president's promises for hope and change and the results weren't pretty, particularly for incumbent Democrats.
The president and his party could have gotten an early indication of voter discontent with Washington after Republican Scott Brown captured Sen. Ted. Kennedy's Massachusetts senate seat, a bastion for Democrats, in a special election last January.
The discontent has been simmering and last night turned to downright anger when voters went to the polls, sweeping a ton of Democratic House seats and governorships into the Republican column. The engine driving this tsunami was the anger and frustration of voters on the economy, including the overhaul of the health care system, massive government bailouts and the $787 billion stimulus that has cost, rather than produced jobs. One analyst likened the out-of-control federal spending binge, which has pumped the national debt into the trillions, to a government on steroids. A majority of voters agreed.
The impression one gets from this mid-term election is that an energized and better informed electorate – whether it be tea party, 9/12 member or constitutionalist – will be holding those candidates they helped elect to their word. The winners, regardless of party affiliate, will be held accountable.
A good example is Cuban American politician Marco Rubio, a tea party favorite who won his Florida Senate race in a relative landslide over a more seasoned, moderate Republican Charlie Crist and a left-leaning Kendrick Meek.
In his victory speech last night Rubio said both parties are to blame for the gridlock in Washington and that we make a great mistake if we believe that last night's results are somehow an embrace of the Republican party. What the election does do, he said, is give Republicans a second chance to be what they said they would be and to send people to Washington who offer a clear alternative to the wrong path that the present leadership currently has us on.
The big storyline of the 2010 mid-term election is that a relatively new grass-roots movement like the tea party could wield such power in a national election. Many of the candidates they endorsed in this election were unheard of on the political stage a year ago and yet they managed to shake the foundation of establishment politicians from coast to coast. In the past, that kind of power was usually bankrolled by big the party machines but the tea party has certainly changed our political landscape.
Now that the people have spoken, we can only hope that the president, the politicians who survived re-election and the incoming freshman congressmen get the message this time.
By Jim Zbick