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Can you hear them now?

November 10, 2010
The American people spoke two years ago, but Democrats, particularly President Barack Obama, driven by ideology, misunderstood what they said. Now, just 24 months later, Americans have spoken again. No, check that; they've shouted, and, for the country's sake, let's hope that both parties have heard the message this time.

So, what is that message? Yes, people were looking for hope and change two years ago — hope that the economy would improve and change to the health care system — but what they got instead was something they hadn't bargained for.

Whereas Republicans under President George W. Bush acted like alcoholics around an unlocked liquor cabinet when it came to spending, causing the deficit to increase, the dollar to weaken and millions of jobs to be lost, Democrats, without any checks, have been like teenagers who not only have the keys to the cabinet but also Daddy's credit card, a fake I.D. and a liquor store just around the corner.

The $787 billion stimulus bill, in reality, was little more than a wish list of pet projects for members of Congress. That's not to say some of those projects didn't have merit, but, let's be honest, many had little, if any, stimulating effect on the economy. To drum up support, the president guaranteed the national unemployment rate wouldn't go above 8 percent if the bill was passed. Instead, it took the hiring of hundreds of thousands of temporary Census workers to keep it below 10 percent.

For the past two years, Democrats also have pushed national health care as a panacea to the ailing economy. The health care system needs tweaking, and there are some good things in the bill that was passed — prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing coverage, to name one — but to claim a massive overhaul was necessary because of the economy was disingenuous. The faltering economy was an excuse to push something the left has dreamed about for years, even in good economic times.

In short, Democrats overreached, and they did it with arrogance.

In Indiana, the chief offender was Ninth District Congressman Baron Hill. Just two years after winning re-election by 20 percentage points, and never receiving less than 49 percent of the vote in his six campaigns for congress, including in 2004 when he lost by less than 1,500 votes, Hill was soundly rejected, losing to first-time candidate Todd Young, 52 percent to 42 percent.

Hill not only willfully voted against the wishes of the majority of his constituents when he supported the unpopular massive stimulus and health care reform bills, but he was brazen about it. His "I know better than you" attitude was on full display during a town hall meeting at Indiana University in 2009. It was there, if you'll remember, that Hill told a student, who asked why she couldn't film the public event for a class project, that it was his town hall forum and she wasn't going to tell him how to run his congressional office. The voters last Tuesday apparently disagreed, reminding Hill that it never was his office; it was the people's.

Living in a representative republic, we don't vote on every piece of legislation and instead trust those whom we have chosen to represent us to do just that, represent us. Two years ago, Americans, frustrated by a faltering economy and out-of-control spending, told Republicans that they had lost their way and had failed and it was time to give somebody else a chance. However, it wasn't a full-fledged endorsement of liberalism.

Republicans would be wise to show the humility that Democrats, led by Obama, have not. Instead of telling Democrats that they can come along for the ride but they've got to sit in the back of the bus and calling them enemies, as the president recently has done in reference to Republicans, GOP leaders need to work with Democrats to find workable solutions that make sense to constituents.

No ideology has a monopoly on what is right, and, in reality, the average person — the middle-aged man who was laid off, the single mom trying to make ends meet, the young entrepreneur wanting to start her own business — doesn't care which party gets credit. Instead, they want a government that sets the conditions where they can succeed. That means setting good fiscal policy, protecting individual freedoms and, in some cases, simply getting out of the way.

Last Tuesday night, Republicans gained 60-plus House seats (the most since 1938), six Senate seats, seven governorships and 19 state legislatures. For anyone to say it is just the result of a fickle electorate is wrong. It is the result of an electorate demanding that the power of government be returned to where the Founding Fathers intended: the people.

Let's hope that Republicans and Democrats, alike, have heard the message this time.

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