As expected, Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday night, but by 1 a.m Wednesday morning. it was clear that a GOP majority in the Senate would remain just out of reach.
President Barack Obama congratulated House Speaker-elect John Boehner at midnight. According to a Boehner aide, the president and the new Speaker spoke briefly about the challenges before them -- jobs and spending -- and Boehner said he would continue to be honest with the president in the new Congressional session.
Although Republicans succeeded in making great headway Tuesday night, it will be important for them to realize in the months ahead that they didn't actually get the mandate for which they were looking. It was never a question of winning back the House; that was a foregone conclusion on most pundits' scorecards. The GOP victory there was inevitable, since the 2008 presidential campaign had shifted the balance of power unnaturally to the left in some traditionally right-leaning and conservative areas of the country. Last night's win simply righted the ship in most cases.
Had the GOP won the Senate, however, they could have claimed a reverberating mandate this morning. They didn't. Embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid held onto his seat after fending off a spirited challenge from Tea Party candidate Sharron angle, and the Democrats managed to retain control of the Senate, though their formerly wide lead in that chamber evaporated down to just three.
While Republicans should certainly rejoice in their victories, they also should realize that the real work hasn't even begun. Among conservatives, Tuesday night's victory for the GOP is indeed a cause for excitement, but Congressional Republicans still in office must not lose focus between now and 2011; they must remain vigilant as Reid and outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attempt to make one final push for the radical liberal agenda in the final lame-duck session this year. It will be interesting to see how the outgoing members of Congress cast their votes. Will they thumb their noses at voters and gleefully approve every liberal bill that comes their way? Or will they align themselves with the GOP and strike back at the Democratic leaders whose agenda was a major reason for their defeat on Tuesday night?
The president has publicly challenged the GOP to offer ideas, but until now he has been reticent to accept them or even use them as a point of reference in negotiating compromise. One of the only things Democrats have done very well in the last two years is marginalizing GOP ideas. The Democrats have consistently and successfully dubbed the Republicans "the party of no," while failing to mention that very often the radically liberal legislation they've introduced and the slick way it's been shoved through the process has put the Republicans in the position of having to say no at every turn. Simply put, Democrats essentially gave Republicans no other choice. The so-called "concessions" the Democrats have allegedly made are inherently dishonest. The genesis of most of their ideas came from such a far-left position that when they said they had relented, the compromise was very often still too far to the left. It's like a store-owner inflating the original price of an item, and then calling the new "lower" price a "sale."
Nevertheless, now that Republicans have gotten the president's attention, politicians on both sides of the aisle are going to have to work together to pass meaningful legislation. Believe it or not, Republicans have had some pretty good ideas over the last two years. Nobody heard about them, though, because most died in committee or were otherwise dismissed by the majority party.
Looking back on Tuesday night, conservatives should be cautiously optimistic about the prospects for reform over the next two years. Unfortunately, much of the work will be undoing the damage done by Democrats since they seized power in 2006, but hopefully, by the time 2012 rolls around, Republicans will have done enough to demonstrate to the American people that their time to lead has once again arrived ...
... And that this time, they don't intend to blow it.
Check back frequently, as these lists will be annotated all this week with an analysis of each race.
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