February 11th, 2012 // 8:52 am
@ Oliver DeMille
This article was previously posted as the February 2012 Social Leader newsletter.
The Elephant in the Room
The 2012 Election, the Tea Parties, and the Thing That’s Missing
The 2012 election could turn out to be a disaster.
In fact, it may already be headed in that direction.
Many conservatives, independents, moderates and fiscally-minded liberals currently have a sense that something is wrong, that amidst all the debates and the many hours of daily media coverage on the election, something isn’t sitting right.
Though many can’t put their finger on what is wrong, this uneasy feeling remains.
Those who keep an eye on the ups and downs of candidate popularity in the polls, and who watch the unfolding of events from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and beyond (not to mention nearly daily input from the White House), wonder if the problem is simply that the candidates are lacking.
Others take sides with a certain candidate and blame their inner voice of concern on worries that their candidate will lose.
With all the talking heads addressing the election, it is surprising how few people are talking about the real issue.
Make no mistake: the real issue, though it has received almost no press, is the Congressional and Senatorial elections.
All the energy is being sucked into the presidential contest, but it isn’t the most important election of the year.
Since almost everyone who is closely watching the election is focused almost entirely on the run for the White House, it isn’t surprising that most of us instinctively feel that something is missing.
No matter what happens in the presidential election, the makeup of the House and Senate in 2013-2014 is going to determine the future of our economy and nation.
Certainly the inhabitant of the White House will have a role in this, but he won’t be the lead character in the drama.
The media, with its nose for celebrity and its fascination with the “almost-royal” nature of the executive, will probably focus on the President during the next three years, just like it has since the post-1945 rise of Washington D.C. as the center of world power.
But the future of the economy, of regulation and deregulation, of deficits, debts, entitlements, tax policy, massive increases or frugal decreases of government spending, of whether the United States will once again become the world’s leading economy or bow to the rise of China–these will be determined by Congressional votes.
The White House will of course raise its voice on these essential issues, but Congress will make the decisions.
So it is a major problem that few of those who pay attention to the election are giving their best efforts to making sure we get a Congress that will make the needed changes.
Independents took their votes away from the ineffectual Republican Congress in 2006 and 2008, and then did the same thing to the regulation-addicted, overspending Democratic House in 2010.
The Tea Parties pushed their own revolution for economic responsibility in 2010 and made it an historic election with a strong message that our leaders simply must get our nation’s financial house in order.
It remains to be seen where independents will stand in 2012, or to what extent the Tea Parties will show up, but anything less than another historic swing in the direction of fiscal responsibility will lead to bigger, more inefficient government and deepening financial crises.
The reality is that the 2012 election will have a drastic impact on the future of America.
We have reached a point where our fiscal irresponsibility simply must be addressed or we are in for major problems right away.
We cannot sustain current levels of debt and the growth of deficits, spending, regulations, economic impotence, or the further credit downgrades that are ahead unless we make real changes.
If things don’t change soon, we will witness the end of the American experiment in freedom and innovation.
Many Americans seem to understand this, but something is still holding them back from igniting a real outpouring of political passion and involvement.
Voter turnout has been surprisingly small in the contests held so far–and with so much at stake, this is a budding catastrophe.
Is the problem, as many in the media have suggested, that the current field of candidates isn’t particularly exciting for many voters?
Or is it that the onslaught of negative attack ads has driven people not just away from certain candidates but from politics in general?
After all, every candidate has been attacked over and over.
Or is it just that the passion of the 2010 election has worn off, that the people are tired of the constant bickering and would rather focus on other things?
Whatever the reasons for the reduced levels of passion, there is a lot of frustration, anger and interest still simmering under the surface.
But as long as it is focused on the presidential race, it will never reach its potential to change things in lasting ways.
The real battle is the Congressional election, but almost nobody is taking notice of this.
If one of the Republican candidates wins the presidency but doesn’t have a supportive Congress, little will change in Washington.
Our nation simply cannot afford more business as usual–the economy isn’t up to four more years without serious economic upturns that will only come by freeing the economy and incentivizing investment, hiring and growth.
On the other hand, if the Congress is strongly pro-growth, then even a Democratic White House won’t be able to stop the move toward a truly free economy.
In such an election outcome, Congress would likely shut down all major proposed spending proposals from the White House and also go back and repeal or de-fund past regulations that hurt the economy.
The Congress could simply refuse to fund a budget that doesn’t fix our national economic problems, and if the President threatens to shut down the government the Congress could agree to shut down all nonessential functions and happily announce to the American people how much money the shutdown will save per week.
All the pressure would on the Democratic President to acquiesce.
The same pressures could be used to pass plans that create long-term fixes to our debt, entitlements, etc.
In short, the nation needs Congress to be made up of representatives who will vote for less regulation, pro-growth incentives and long-term economic fixes.
Whatever happens in the presidential race, the Congressional race is the key.
The Party system is getting in the way of how people are viewing the 2012 election.
The emphasis on the presidential race is capturing most of the attention and energy, and this is a serious mistake.
This election has the potential to significantly improve the direction of our nation, or to send it spiraling into unmanageable debt and recession, but those who care about freedom and prosperity need to put their focus on the Congressional elections.
That is where the real action is, regardless of how little notice this receives in the media.
Independents, Tea Partiers, moderates, conservatives and fiscally-concerned liberals need to put their focus on the Congressional races of 2012.
Whether President Obama or one of his challengers wins the presidential contest, the future of the nation really depends on what happens in the Congressional elections.
It’s time to get this message out to anyone who cares about the 2012 election and the future of America.
Do you know your local and state candidates?
Are there debates or town meetings in your area?
Who are the local lynch-pins that would benefit from your support, input and participation?
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.
Category : Featured