by Chris Markham. 0 Comments

I held my breath for almost the entirety of election night. Then, of course, I had to breathe, because the gubernatorial and my congressional race weren’t decided (the governor was selected the next day; the congressman a few days after that). I could not believe, once the smoke cleared, that I was (kinda) living in a Red State. For only the third time in about 40 years did Maryland have a governor from the GOP. And twice since I’ve lived here. Amazing.
The issue that will come up is how well Governor-elect Hogan can deal with the State Assembly and the State Senate. A great many of the members of the respective houses have very secure seats. Along with that security comes a pretty defined mandate that said lawmakers can oppose a Republican governor and their initiatives on the basis of party affiliation alone. Former Governor Robert Ehrlich can attest to this antagonistic relationship first-hand.
The same conceit could be said for the new Congress that will be sat in January, 2015. It would seem that the Republicans not only won back control of the Senate, but also saw one of the largest majorities in Congress since the days of President Truman. What to do with all of this power? Apparently, once could look at the majority totals in both the House and the Senate as some sort of referendum on the Democratic Party generally and the agenda of the President specifically. Those that make such sweeping pronouncements may do so at their own peril.
I don’t think the events of the past Election Day is a complete and total repudiation of the liberal agenda. Rather, I tend to look at the overwhelming number of seats gained (both legislative and executive) as a call to action. After years of seeing nothing accomplished on either the state or national governments. Sure, health care reform was passed (and many debate whether that was a good thing or bad thing), but what else? The stock market is doing gangbusters, and unemployment is kind of declining. But those numbers are artificially depleted due to those long-term unemployed that are no longer actively searching for work or collecting benefits. More jobs are being moved overseas and more illegal immigrants are taking some jobs away (that’s a column for another day). The cost of living is rising exponentially and people are hurting. There are calls for help, and these calls seem to fall on deaf ears.
On the streets of this great nation, there is a revolution brewing. Student loans are out of control. People (especially young people) are unemployed. There are many questions about why our governments are doing what they’re doing overseas, when there are so many problems here at home.
If the Republican Party and the newly-elected candidates believe they have a mandate to enact any pet projects they want to, or carry the party banner high as they march upon Washington, DC or any other state capitols, they may have another thing coming. These days it seems as though the people want change – real change that they can use to eat, work or pursue their versions of the American Dream. More useless rhetoric, extremist policies or gridlock will not endear the newly-elected to their respective constituents or the nation at large.
And therein lies the rub. As previously mentioned, the Republicans appear to be the dominant party in DC, as well as in a number of state capitols. At this point, the party needs to lead on issues that affect a majority of Americans – jobs, the economy, the cost of living, health care and taxes. If they do this, and are either successful in their attempts, or they have demonstrable proof that the opposing party has stymied their progress at every step. Without said results or proof, the 2016 election year may not be as stress-free or wide open as the GOP likes to think it may be.
The Republican Party is on the edge of a great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If it chooses to lead, work and be productive, there’s no telling where it could go, or what gains it may achieve. If it chooses to be bull-headed, not negotiate, surrender or focus on niche issues and pet projects, 2016 is going to be a very long year, and all of the promise from a couple of weeks ago will disappear faster than money going to the State of Maryland.


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