More than the war of words over a mosque at Ground Zero, or the divisive debate on birthright citizenship, it is a broken trust pushing voters to the polls Nov. 2.
Despite promises from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to drain the swamp in her first 100 days, four years out the headlines read: “It’s not just Rangel—Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., to be tried on ethics charges.” While these stories sullying the “most open and honest government in history” have been bumped from the front page with the fury of sentiment over the mosque and illegal immigration, the issues are all intertwined. They are symptoms of the same disease: a broken trust.
Hardworking folks looking for jobs and leadership are tired of the different standard of behavior in the two Americas—Washington and the real world.
Some in the media are quick to excuse ethical lapses by Democrats as “ yawn inducing,” quickly pointing to Republican scandals of the past. But hardworking folks looking for jobs and leadership are tired of the different standard of behavior in the two Americas—Washington and the real world.
The return of The Swamp Thing is not a D issue, or an R issue. It’s a communicable D.C. issue.
Congress ranks 16th among public institutions when it comes to public trust, behind big business and even the media; the military and small business are trusted most. And voters continue to rank the economy, and government ethics and corruption as top issues.
Recent polling of voters shows:
• 62 percent say it would be better if most congressional incumbents were defeated • 84 percent say the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction • 70 percent believe most members of Congress are willing to sell their vote • And just 23 percent believe the federal government has the consent of the governed.
Yet, among the political class:
While most voters support cutting government spending and reducing the deficit to fix the economy, the political class disagrees. No surprise, then, that 68 percent of voters believe the political class doesn’t care what most Americans think.
More than a tempest in a teapot, a most uncivil war is brewing.
In 19 short months, “Hope has morphed into widespread gloom as widespread economic suffering becomes the new normal in America.”
Unemployment is at 9.5 percent, there are 3.3 million fewer jobs than there were in January 2009, and bankruptcy filings have reached the highest level since 2005. The only sector growing is the government. Average compensation for Federal employees is now more than double that of private-sector workers. Sustenance programs for the poor are being raided to pay for public union jobs. And government is growing more invasive, controlling everything from light bulbs to lemonade stands.
Folks in the real world are growing tired—tired of watching their hard-earned tax dollars spiral down the drain, tired of not being heard. No wonder they don’t trust Washington’s pronouncements on issues needing moral clarity.
Americans hunger for something new—principled, ethical leadership. And it begins the day after Nov. 2, in “the people’s House.”
Democrats were thrown out of the U.S. House in 1994 because of corruption. Republicans were tossed for the same reason in 2006. While 59 percent of likely voters feel that neither Republican nor Democratic political leaders have a good understanding of what is needed today, Republicans are trusted more by voters on most key issues.
The GOP holds a record 12-point lead over Democrats among likely voters on a generic congressional ballot. With predictions of a crimson tide sweeping the nation and the GOP gaining control of the House, are they prepared to be a party of principle?
To their credit, House Republican leaders enacted a voluntary ban in March on all earmarks for the remainder of the 111th Congress. But are they ready for what is coming their way?
They must be prepared to act. Time is short. So is voter patience.
More than just being second in line behind the vice president to succeed the president, the speaker of the House wields the power to decide what legislation is debated and by whom, and when and how voting will occur. More importantly, the speaker ultimately holds the purse strings of Congress as all legislative funding approval goes through the House. Though bills may pass both chambers, the House can strangle an initiative by withholding funds.
The speaker is elected by the majority party. Can Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), the likely speaker, deliver? The White House is already desperately painting Boehner as another villain to fear.
Hard decisions are ahead with the bill coming due for increased spending on federal health-care programs and Social Security. Rep. Boehner will need to draw on the strength of others—like the personal integrity of the late Speaker Sam Rayburn (D-TX), the unaffected clarity of vision of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the moxie of Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), the optimistic outlook of President Ronald Reagan, and the no-nonsense get-it-done attitude of Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN). His mission: to restore trust, stop the fiscal bleeding, and help businesses grow jobs.
If Republican leaders fail to act, something far worse than The Swamp Thing will haunt them. Something wicked this way will come—angry voters in 2012.
As vice chairman of Public Strategies and president of Maverick Media, Mark McKinnon has helped meet strategic challenges for candidates, corporations and causes, including George W. Bush, John McCain, Governor Ann Richards, Charlie Wilson, Lance Armstrong, and Bono.