While listening to music on my I-phone, I began to contemplate the upcoming mid-term elections. The rock band, The Who sang: “I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution/Take a bow for the new revolution/Smile and grin at the change all around me/Pick up my guitar and play/Just like yesterday/And I’ll get on my knees and pray/We don’t get fooled again.”
It struck me that the words could be an anthem for a new political generation. Of course, they might also be a prescient warning for voters casting ballots on November second.
As Election Day approaches, there is a feeling of excitement among conservatives. Republicans are poised to take control of both houses of Congress. As of this writing, both the Gallup and Rasmussen polls have Republicans holding a commanding double-digit lead among likely voters. There is even speculation that Republicans could win as many as 100 seats in the House of Representatives and 12 seats in the Senate.
Pardon me if, like Chris Matthews, I do not have a tingling sensation running up my leg at the prospect of Republican victory in November. Perhaps I would feel differently if Republicans had done something to earn victory in November. Alas, being the only alternative to an over-reaching, liberal congress and a president who is out of touch (and seemingly in over his head) is no great accomplishment. Yes, Republicans have stood in the way of Democratic hubris, as they should have. They are the opposition party and shouldn’t get brownie points for doing their job.
Certainly, I am not alone in recalling that it was the “me too” Republicans who increased federal regulation of public education, gave us the largest new entitlement program in a generation, failed to reform government entitlements, voted to pass the TARP, and were on the verge of giving us “comprehensive immigration reform” before saner minds steps to the fore. It was a big government president who arrogantly announced that he was abandoning free-market principles in order to save the free-market. Given their recent track record, it is unclear why the political right believes a Republican-led Congress will be any more fiscally responsible than the previous Republican-led Congress.
Oh, yes, there is the “Pledge to America,” which, of course, will make all the difference. What remains unclear is why there must be an official pledge in order for Republicans to behave like, well, Republicans. Just a few years ago many of these same Republicans were spending money like drunken sailors and spouting the big government conservative mantra, “Deficits don’t matter!” Now, of course, in large part because of the Tea Party movement, Republicans have found fiscal religion, except that the same folks that brought us big government conservatism are mostly the same folks behind this years GOP resurgence.
Perhaps the difference this year is the Tea Party; the power and activism of the grass roots will keep Republicans honest. It may very well be that the Tea Party is the natural response to leftist attempts to transform America. However, I maintain that had Republicans eschewed big government conservatism in favor of traditional conservatism, there would have been no need for Tea Party activism because President Obama would still be Sen. Obama.
Contrary to what the New Left would have us believe, the Tea Party movement is not the White racist rejection of a Black president. The Tea Party is a rejection of government over-reaching: bank bailouts, government ownership of automobile companies, government health care, government control of school loans, and government attempts to regulate the very air we breathe. The Tea Party movement is the American people shouting, “Enough is enough!” As such, the Tea Party is a terrific gadfly, but as the Obama administration has discovered, there is a difference between community organizing and governing. The Tea Party is not prepared to govern. the Republican Party is. The question is: “Will they?” And if so, “In what manner?”
Sorry, but the cynic in me simply isn’t getting that warm, fuzzy feeling. In my lifetime I have noticed a tendency for politicians of both of the major parties to feed the beast of government rather than slay it. Sure, they talk tough and make promises, but Washington seduces them into engaging in all manner of devilment.
The cynic in me is whispering in my ear that ObamaCare is here to stay. Republicans may tinker with it, snip a few pages here and there to hold up as trophies, but the beast is here to stay. The doubter in me is saying that no matter how many pledges the GOP writes, there will be no meaningful reform of our entitlement system. The beast will demand to be fed tax dollars and it will get them with a cherry on top. The skeptic in me is certain that in a very short time the public will be treated to “climate legislation.” Sure, there will be a few stalwart conservatives willing to be martyrs for the cause, but they will be shouted down by the “me too” Republicans, who are all too eager to out-Democrat their Democrat colleagues.
So, what is the alternative? I have long held that to vote for the lesser of two evils still results in a vote cast for evil. And yet, to vote for a third-party candidate with no chance of winning, only seems to empower the party that I would like to see out of office. It is little wonder that I continually find myself holding my nose, and falling to my knees to pray that “We don’t get fooled again.”
(Joseph C. Phillips is author of “He Talk Like A White Boy.”)