COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 25, 2015 — Last week the Pew Research Center released a new poll that tells how poorly the public perceives Congress is doing. No surprise there: Congress’ approval ratings have been struggling for a long time.
But this poll goes deeper than the usual Congress-bashing: it looks at the reasons why.
Disapproval is often along party lines: one side disapproves because they think Congress is doing too much, the other because Congress isn’t doing enough. That could be said of the infamous 111th Congress that forced Obamacare on us. The majority didn’t (and still doesn’t) want that law while Democrats wanted full single-payer, nationalized healthcare.
Today it’s different.
Democrats are critical of course—but so are Republicans.
While 80% of Republicans felt that Newt Gingrich’s Republican-led Congress was keeping their promise of the Contract with America, today only 37% of Republicans feel that way about the McConnell-Boehner Congress. 53% say they are not keeping their campaign promises.
Six years after the Democrat wave in 2008 and eight years after Republicans lost Congress in 2006, Sen. Mitch McConnell is back in charge of the Senate and Rep. John Boehner is back in charge of the House. What could go wrong?
It is often said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
In recent years the U.S. Congress has become more like a European parliament. Parties run on “programs” in Europe and when they’re elected with a majority, they’re expected to implement that program. The Democrat Party has re-made themselves from the traditional American big-tent party into a European socialist labour party. Their backers are relatively happy with their performance: 62% approve according to the Pew poll.
The Republicans, as usual, are slow to catch on. With the not-so-daring duo back in control, the people expected more. 75% of Republicans want GOP leaders to challenge Obama more often; just 15% say they are handling relations with the president about right.
These results accurately reflect reality. Republican leaders complained that with Harry Reid in charge of the Senate they could do nothing—and they were right. Put us in charge, they said, and things will be different. We did, and they’re not.
While Democrats stuck together and passed their program—think Obamacare, Wall Street “reform,” and massive spending—Republicans have fractured and passed bills only with Democrat help, sometimes majority Democrat help. The latest example is the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bill. In what universe did American voters vote in November to give an already-overreaching president more power?
Still, there is hope.
Also last week, Sen. Rand Paul made a long speech in the Senate—technically not a filibuster, but close enough to block the extension of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the section used to justify bulk data collection by the National Security Agency. He was joined by Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon.
That’s bipartisan support for the Constitution that we can believe in.
As we contemplate Memorial Day today, think about this: We won World War II and the Cold War without bulk data collection by the NSA. In those days, we pinpointed the data and the people we needed to watch. Surely we can do that again with today’s technology.
It may be a small step in the right direction but a notable one, and one that was made possible by electing senators like Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Joni Ernst, and Ben Sasse (among others) in the last three elections.
Electing them and others like them in the House have made it necessary for McConnell and Boehner to use Democrats to pass bills. Over the last six years we have defeated the Democrat dinosaur leadership in Congress. It is now our task to do the same to the Republican side.
What better tribute could we give the men and women whose sacrifices we honor this Memorial Day than to re-dedicate ourselves to the principles of liberty they fought to defend?