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Nov 01 2014

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A Reckoning for the Senate Class of ’08

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Time for a Vote of No Confidence...

Time for a Vote of No Confidence…

With about 72 hours left before Election Day, there is not much left to be said that hasn’t already been said. But as the clock counts down, polling shows both a large  number of highly competitive races, and a large number of undecideds; unusual this late in the campaign.

For those who have not yet decided whom to support, or perhaps whether to vote at all, this is for you.

Take a step back from the ad wars, charges and accusations hurled back and forth like grenades, and there is a larger and consequential issue at stake on Tuesday’s ballot – accountability.

The slate of Democrats up for election this year are in the same seats that were filled in 2008.

20 in all.

The field of Democratic incumbents facing the voters on Tuesday is much reduced from that historic election six years ago. Ted Kennedy (MA) and Frank Lautenberg (NJ) have both passed. Joe Biden won both the vice presidency and his Senate seat that year, and his vacated seat went to a loyal staffer until a new election could be held. Chris Coons is now in that seat and up for election this year. Tim Johnson (SD), Carl Levin (MI), Jay Rockefeller (WV) and Tom Harkin (IA) have all opted to retire rather than face the voters. Max Baucus (MT) resigned his seat in order to become Ambassador to China.

But 12 original Members remain in the Senate and are on the ballot Tuesday. Richard Durbin (IL), Jack Reed (RI), Jeff Merkley (OR), Tom Udall (NM), Mark Warner (VA), Al Franken (MN), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Kay Hagan (NC), Mark Begich (AK), Mark Udall (CO), Mary Landrieu (LA) and Mark Pryor (AR).

This election is consequential because without these 20 seats – and the 12 remaining incumbents –  there would not have been an Obama agenda upon which so much of American today stands in open revolt. Far from the “principled independent voices” that are cast in campaign ads, these men and women were the enablers of the Obama presidency, casting vote after vote in lock-step with the President’s wishes. In most cases, aligning themselves with the President more than 95 percent of the time, and crucially, on the most controversial issues of the day, taking positions at odds with the majority of the American people.

As a class, this group was not beyond controversy at the beginning.

Al Franken initially lost his race in by a razor-thin 215 votes, to incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman. A recount and legal challenge, which ultimately lasted eight months, did not end until Franken had been certified the winner by 312 votes by the Minnesota courts. In Alaska, Mark Begich won his seat by 1.3 percent, eight days after incumbent Ted Stevens was convicted of corruption in a trial where the Justice Department knowingly withheld exculpatory evidence that later led to Stevens’ conviction being overturned.

Had either of these two men lost, there would not have been the 60 vote majority required to pass the majority of President Obama’s agenda. But they survived and so did Obama’s priorities.

As a class, and in conjunction with their fellow Democrats already in the Senate, these are the men and women who enabled the nearly $1 trillion Stimulus law that failed to stimulate anything but liberal constituencies looking for an easy pay-day.

These are the people who pivoted from the precarious economy to focus their full attention on liberal ideological concerns, animated by Cap and Trade and healthcare in 2009.

These are the people who marshaled the votes for Dodd-Frank, crystallizing the heavy blanket of government regulation on the private sector that failed to produce the intended results.

These are the people who stood by as the US national debt doubled in four years.

These are the people who supported the President’s call for tax increases.

These are the people who have stood by as 352 bills passed by the House of Representatives, designed to jump-start the economy and help ordinary Americans, languished under Harry Reid’s leadership. 98 percent of those bills passed with bipartisan support. 50 percent passed the House unanimously.

These are the people who have held free trade agreements and the Keystone XL pipeline hostage.

Most importantly, these are the people who, against the wishes of the majority of the American people, provided the votes to approve Obamacare; who have, since 2010,  formed a defensive line that has prevented any change to the oxymoronic Affordable Care Act, despite its manifold failures and deficiencies, which have harmed, not helped the American people.

They must be held to account.

America is not a happy country.

Polls show that citizens believe that event are spinning out of control. Majorities not only believe that the country is on the wrong track, but that their children will not enjoy the prosperity that they once knew.

92 million Americans are no longer in the workforce. A generation of Americans risk permanent, lifetime unemployment as skills atrophy for lack of work. A new generation entering the workforce compete for low skill jobs/low paying jobs, necessarily putting off marriage and children, triggering cascading social impacts.

More Americans require public assistance to eat than at any time since the Great Depression. Incomes have been stagnant for those lucky enough to have work, but still require many to take a second job just to meet the bills.

Our leaders lie to us (“If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor”) and spy on us (NSA). The IRS and the Justice Department have grown busy criminalizing free speech, while HHS has boldly enacted policies challenging religious freedom. The EPA issues environmental diktats with the silent approval of congressional Democrats who cannot marshal a majority to enact the check list legislatively.

Military spending has been slashed as the threats abroad multiply. Terror groups behead American citizens with impunity, as our leaders open borders to wholesale illegal immigration from the south and deadly infectious diseases from abroad.

Yet, no one is responsible.

The President of the United States is a spectator to his own Administration, shocked – shocked – by scandals that have rocked his presidency as a result of his actions and policies. He is more interested in his golf game and shuttling to fundraisers,  ensconced in the comfortably appointed – and taxpayer-funded – Air Force One.

Six years after the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, only one person has gone to jail for what should have been one of the worst, mass white-collar crimes in American history.

Millions of Americans, who worked hard and played by the rules, lost their homes and livelihoods. But by virtue of the Federal Reserve and its artificial pump-priming policies, only Wall Street has grown even richer.

Want to know if the Federal Reserve is really looking out for you?

Go try to get a loan.

America could have put an end to all of this in 2012, but ultimately chose not to decide, returning the exact same players to Washington. The buyer’s remorse” two years later is tangible as the full impact of the Democrats’ policies and intentions have become clear.

But Obama’s Senate enablers are no more likely to admit culpability than their president; indeed,  none of the 12 running for re-election has the shown the courage of any discernible convictions, running away from the president they so compliantly followed, and the votes that they cast in his support.

It matters to stand for something. It matters more than most in public office. Remember that expediency is only another word cowardice in political jargon when standing in the public square.

It is time to hold our elected leaders – the ones on the ballot who are most responsible for our current, unhappy environment – accountable.  To unite as one and reject the policies of failure and mediocrity, and the politics of division. To take a first, tentative step to right the ship of state as a down payment on our mutual commitment to restore pride to our people and optimism to our future.

On Tuesday, hold them accountable.

Vote Republican.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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