Last night was an epic victory for conservatives and Republicans. We pushed back against the arrogant, over-spending Congressional Democrats and, by proxy, President Barack Obama. Much of the commentary has talked about the coming gridlock in Washington. For example, The Economist has described “two years of nothing.” But that’s not true. Even if there is little agreement on jobs and other policies, Congress and state governments will have to pass budgets and spending bills. That provides us an opening to continue to channel our activism, especially at the state level to have profound impact in actually reducing the size of government.
But first, let’s talk about the scope of the victory last night in the state capitals. This afternoon I spoke with GOPAC Chairman Frank Donatelli about the scope of our victories. Republicans picked up 23 chambers of state legislatures and the most Republican state legislators since 1928. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Republicans now control both houses of the state legislature in 25 states. Many of these states are in fiscal crisis. Obama and Congressional Democrats bailed out the states — and their public employee unions — twice. And much of that money was turned around and spent attacking Republicans. Recall that the Wall Street Journal found that AFSCME — the largest public employee union — was the largest spender of the cycle.
But bailouts from Washington should not happen again. House Republicans can stop it from even coming to the floor. We have to continue pressure to make that happen, but we can and will win that fight. The next step is the states. With Republican control of so many state legislatures, we can now force states to reform and their services while cutting government employees. Mitch Daniels did it in Indiana, and with both chambers of the state legislature, they are likely to do more. If our new conservative leaders do this, we can get better service, smaller government, and less union money fighting for more spending in the future. That’s a virtuous circle.
So here’s what we have to do. We have to continue to be involved at the local level. We have to find out what is happening in our state legislatures. And we have to find out who is spending the money and who wants to raise taxes. And we have to fight back and stop them. The next nine months will be critical in wounding Leviathan. If we do, the unions will have less money to spend in 2012 when we defeat Barack Obama.