Parting words from Christie Whitman

By CHRISTIE WHITMAN
The Record
November 4, 2010

THE ELECTION is over, and the results are good for America. I say that not because my party won quite a number of seats in the House of Representatives, the Senate and statehouses around the country, but rather because those who ran on the most extreme rhetoric were not successful.

The results reinforce the principle I have been extolling for years: Extremism is a recipe for irrelevance.

Candidates in statewide races, such as Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle, who focused more on fringe social issues than fiscal ones, were unsuccessful. This teaches us a valuable lesson: a primary can be controlled by extreme elements, but a statewide general election is very difficult for a minority interest to control.

Much will be discussed in the coming weeks about the impact of the Tea Party on this election cycle, but to think of that as one broad group is imprecise. When Tea Party candidates focused on fiscal discipline, they were victorious. But when they tried to meld extreme social issues with the need for fiscal austerity, they fell flat, and the Republican Party paid the price.

Had more centrist candidates been victorious in the primaries, we probably would have won Senate seats in Delaware and Nevada. Depending on the final vote tallies in a number of still-too-close-to-call races, we may find that allowing strict social views to taint the vital message of fiscal responsibility cost the Republican Party control of the U.S. Senate.

I suspect this election wasn’t about people voting for Republicans, it was about voting against incumbents, and a majority of those happen to be Democrats.

People are angry. They are not better off than they were two years ago when they believed Obama would cure the nation’s ills. Unfortunately, unemployment is higher today, real income is lower and the list of unfunded programs and corresponding debts is growing rapidly. There was certainly a repudiation of runaway spending in this week’s votes, and both parties must heed that warning.

Tuesday night was certainly a good night to be a Republican, but not necessarily because we have earned it. Obama overreached in 2008, and he couldn’t deliver – he should have known that from the start, and perhaps he did. Now Republicans are assuming the mantle of responsibility for leading the lower House of Congress, and they must resist the pressure to extend their rhetoric beyond where they can deliver results.

The time for campaigning is over, and the parties have been had — now the real work of governing begins. I was pleased to see this morning that all the relevant individuals were saying the right things. Presumed Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, talked about the need to cooperate with the president, and current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, recognizing that “gridlock will not do the trick.”

On this there can be no wavering; cooperation is absolutely essential.

Some gridlock is all but inevitable, both because of the split control of the two houses of Congress, and the reduced Democratic majority in the Senate.

With 59 caucusing Democrats, getting to a majority, and a supermajority when necessary, was an easier task. With 53 or so caucusing Democrats today, few issues will get that important 60 vote total.

There was much talk of repealing the Obama health care package Tuesday night, and perhaps it’s important to go through those motions, knowing the president will veto it.

But after that exercise, it will be time to put our energies into developing a package of reforms that can shape the health package into something that helps most Americans. There were some positive steps taken in that legislation, and with the right refinement, it can be beneficial.

The same goes for countless other policy areas – we need action on extending the Bush tax cuts and a host of other fiscal matters, energy policy and immigration.

Real solutions in these complex issues will necessitate compromise. It is my fervent hope that our newly elected leaders will accept their new responsibilities with humility, and work together to solve the problems we face as a nation.

THE ELECTION is over, and the results are good for America. I say that not because my party won quite a number of seats in the House of Representatives, the Senate and statehouses around the country, but rather because those who ran on the most extreme rhetoric were not successful.

The results reinforce the principle I have been extolling for years: Extremism is a recipe for irrelevance.

Candidates in statewide races, such as Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle, who focused more on fringe social issues than fiscal ones, were unsuccessful. This teaches us a valuable lesson: a primary can be controlled by extreme elements, but a statewide general election is very difficult for a minority interest to control.

Much will be discussed in the coming weeks about the impact of the Tea Party on this election cycle, but to think of that as one broad group is imprecise. When Tea Party candidates focused on fiscal discipline, they were victorious. But when they tried to meld extreme social issues with the need for fiscal austerity, they fell flat, and the Republican Party paid the price.

Had more centrist candidates been victorious in the primaries, we probably would have won Senate seats in Delaware and Nevada. Depending on the final vote tallies in a number of still-too-close-to-call races, we may find that allowing strict social views to taint the vital message of fiscal responsibility cost the Republican Party control of the U.S. Senate.

I suspect this election wasn’t about people voting for Republicans, it was about voting against incumbents, and a majority of those happen to be Democrats.

People are angry. They are not better off than they were two years ago when they believed Obama would cure the nation’s ills. Unfortunately, unemployment is higher today, real income is lower and the list of unfunded programs and corresponding debts is growing rapidly. There was certainly a repudiation of runaway spending in this week’s votes, and both parties must heed that warning.

Tuesday night was certainly a good night to be a Republican, but not necessarily because we have earned it. Obama overreached in 2008, and he couldn’t deliver – he should have known that from the start, and perhaps he did. Now Republicans are assuming the mantle of responsibility for leading the lower House of Congress, and they must resist the pressure to extend their rhetoric beyond where they can deliver results.

The time for campaigning is over, and the parties have been had — now the real work of governing begins. I was pleased to see this morning that all the relevant individuals were saying the right things. Presumed Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, talked about the need to cooperate with the president, and current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, recognizing that “gridlock will not do the trick.”

On this there can be no wavering; cooperation is absolutely essential.

Some gridlock is all but inevitable, both because of the split control of the two houses of Congress, and the reduced Democratic majority in the Senate.

With 59 caucusing Democrats, getting to a majority, and a supermajority when necessary, was an easier task. With 53 or so caucusing Democrats today, few issues will get that important 60 vote total.

There was much talk of repealing the Obama health care package Tuesday night, and perhaps it’s important to go through those motions, knowing the president will veto it.

But after that exercise, it will be time to put our energies into developing a package of reforms that can shape the health package into something that helps most Americans. There were some positive steps taken in that legislation, and with the right refinement, it can be beneficial.

The same goes for countless other policy areas – we need action on extending the Bush tax cuts and a host of other fiscal matters, energy policy and immigration.

Real solutions in these complex issues will necessitate compromise. It is my fervent hope that our newly elected leaders will accept their new responsibilities with humility, and work together to solve the problems we face as a nation.