What message do you think American voters sent Congress on Nov. 6, and do you think the new composition of Congress will at all change its ability to get things done?
The voters sent a clear message that they want Washington to work together to solve our national problems. They want to see real bipartisan solutions forged in the middle; not more partisan bickering designed to appeal to the extreme wings of either party.
The public no longer wants leaders whose only agenda is to deny victories for the other side. When that is the goal, it’s not one political party or the other that loses; it’s the American people who suffer.
The real question now is if the elected officials in Washington can finally work together. The reality is that Washington will look very similar next January as it did the previous two years. Thanks to favorable redistricting by Republican-controlled state legislatures, conservatives were able to maintain control of the House. Meanwhile, the Senate remains under the leadership of Harry Reid and President Barack Obama still resides in the White House.
But to simply say nothing has changed ignores the true message of the elections. The American people very clearly announced they are sick of the extreme views that have polluted politics for the past two years, most notably those espoused by the Tea Party.
All across the country, voters rejected the far-right Tea Party ideology. By running out-of-touch candidates like Todd Akin in Missouri or Richard Mourdock in Indiana, the Tea Party cost the Republicans a shot at controlling the Senate, allowing the Democrats to instead gain seats.
In the House, despite competing in conservatively drawn districts nationwide, Democrats managed to pick up seats, including that of Tea Partier darling Allen West in Florida. Other extreme conservatives like Iowa’s Steve King or one-time presidential front-runner Michele Bachmann in Minnesota, narrowly held onto their seats.
A large part of the Democrats’ success was due to the changing makeup of the electorate. Young, minority and female voters turned out to overwhelmingly support President Obama and his allies. These growing segments of the populations allowed Obama to win almost every swing state including the top prizes of Florida and Ohio.
These voters also changed the makeup of Congress. We will now have more minority and female members in both the House and the Senate. And in Wisconsin, we saw the first openly gay person elected to the Senate. Congress is starting to look more and more like the American people.
In light of those results, the onus is now on Republicans to moderate their views and finally work with Democrats to solve our country’s problems. Denying President Obama a second term can no longer be their only agenda. House Republicans must be willing to step up and act like a majority party.
During the end of President George W. Bush’s term in office, Democrats controlled Congress. Much like today, the country was staring at financial collapse if Washington failed to act. Despite agreeing to a deal, Republican leaders were unable to deliver even half of their members to help avoid this disaster.
Fortunately, Democrats were willing to work with the Bush White House to make some tough decisions to avert a complete collapse of our financial system.
However, Republicans are no longer in the minority and so they must now be willing to make those same tough choices to benefit our nation.
On Nov. 6, the voters clearly said the days of a Tea Party-led, “Do-Nothing” Republican party must come to an end. Hopefully Republicans in Washington heard that message and will now join with Democrats to solve our problems.