“Voters don’t want to be governed from the left, the right, or even the center. They want someone in Washington who understands that the American people want to govern themselves.”
That was the central point of Scott Rasmussen‘s Wall Street Journal column published the day before the election. One of our country’s top pollsters, Rasmussen was among the first experts to pick up the theme of this election: that there is a political class in this country whose worldview and governing agenda is disconnected from mainstream voters in both parties.
Bailouts of our financial and automotive industries. Unprecedented pork-barrel spending under the false pretense of “economic stimulus.” The government takeover of our health care. Arbitrary and arguably unlawful interventions affecting America’s energy industry and Texas’ manufacturing sector. Higher taxes and suffocating regulations on small businesses. Taking power away from local governments and individual citizens and concentrating it in Washington, DC.These actions made infinite sense to the powers that be in the political class – and to almost no one else.
And when mainstream Americans raised their voices against these actions, the response of the national political leadership was not to make our priorities theirs – or even to compromise on theirs. Instead, they took their deliberations behind closed doors, perverted our legislative processes, and exploited loopholes in our constitutional system of checks and balances.
And as the extent of the public’s outrage has become clear, President Obama has gone so far as to describe citizens with viewpoints opposed to his as “enemies.” On Tuesday night, Democratic politicians of all stripes – both philosophical and geographic – paid a heavy price for their leadership’s arrogance toward mainstream Americans.
But before Republicans start to feel too good about themselves, they should remember that they were the object of the electorate’s scorn in the preceding two elections. They have been brought back in from the proverbial doghouse because they remain the most viable option to slow down the concentration of power in Washington, DC, but make no mistake – they are on a very short leash.
For too long, the two major parties in Washington, DC have sought power based on arguments that they could most effectively manage big government. The Tea Party movement has exposed the irrelevance of that debate. The future belongs to whichever party – either already in existence or one yet to be – empowers Americans to govern themselves.
The Rasmussen quote resonated with me because self-governance is at the core of our mission at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. We believe the vast majority of the American people have a better knowledge of their personal situations and can do a better job of meeting their own needs than a government bureaucracy can.
We know that both individual entrepreneurs and large businesses create jobs when taxes are low, government regulations are limited and predictable, and they have the freedom to succeed or fail based on their ability to innovate and implement their dreams.
We know that our children learn best when their educational choices are directed by their parents, not by bureaucrats in Washington, DC or even those in Austin.
We know that the best health care is delivered when patients and doctors make those decisions together – without interference from government bureaucrats.
We know that consumers are served best when they have the power to make decisions about what products they can purchase and at what price.
We know these things because we have documented them, and with the help of our elected leaders, we have implemented many of those ideas. Through our ongoing research – and with the added resource of our new Center for Tenth Amendment Studies – we will provide policymakers with practical recommendations that they can adopt to reclaim our power and our freedoms.
Texas remains a beacon for the nation not just because our job creation continues to outpace most other states combined, but because our commitment to freedom and self-government has remained strong. Our newly elected representatives will succeed and earn the trust of their constituents to the extent that they honor those commitments as well.
Brooke L. Rollins is president of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin.