If it wasn’t clear that Americans were yearning for real change prior to Nov. 8th, it became vigorously evident as the election results came in. This is something that members of Congress should keep in mind as they make their plans for the upcoming session: Voters are expecting a new direction and real policy changes. Congress should be ready to deliver.
This election was a referendum on President Obama's signature healthcare law, also known as ObamaCare. In fact, exit polls show that ObamaCare was a top issue for the electorate, with almost half of voters saying ObamaCare “went too far.”
Among this group, 83 percent voted for Donald Trump with just 13 percent voting for Hillary Clinton. The law has been unpopular from the start, but then just days before the election, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that exchange premiums would be increasing an average of 25 percentnext year, affirming yet again just how unaffordable and disastrous the law has been.
ObamaCare’s impact on the election results is evident considering how the candidates who pledged to repeal the law performed: 76 percent of the candidates who signed the Independent Women’s Voice’s ObamaCare Repeal Pledge won their respective elections.
In his final pitch to woo voters, now President-elect Trump made repealing ObamaCare a key point, promising to immediately begin dismantling the law during his first 100 days in office, which may have helped tip more undecideds into his column.
But voters rejected more than ObamaCare on Election Day.
Voters overwhelmingly said no to another four years of the Obama administration's overreaching policy agenda and vision for the country. That shouldn’t have been such a surprise given that most Americans have long been pessimistic about the country’s direction and the path paved by President Obama.
In a poll taken shortly before the election, 63 percent of Americans said that the U.S. is on the wrong track compared to just 30 percent who said it was moving in the right direction. No wonder Trump — despite his many flaws — prevailed over a candidate who would effectively have been President Obama’s third term.
This desire for a new direction also powered Republicans to hold onto the Senate and the House. That’s something that the new Congress should carefully consider. As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Members of Congress should be warned that Americans expect meaningful legislation that will bring real economic progress and give more power to the people, rather than unelected bureaucrats.
With a Republican in the Oval Office and control of both chambers of Congress, conservatives at long last are poised to push through substantial policy reforms. There will be no room for excuses, and the American people are unlikely to be forgiving come 2018 if very little is accomplished between now and then.
Democrats should also bear this in mind.
The Senate map will favor Republicans in 2018. While Republicans have just eight seats to defend, Democrats have 23 states up for grabs, many of which were won by Donald Trump.
Democrats would be wise to show their willingness to come to the table and give the other side a fair hearing on a range of issues, from fixing the healthcare crisis to safeguarding America from terrorist and national security threats. Those on the Left so often lambast the GOP as the “party of no,” but if Democrats simply obstruct the solutions proposed by the new president and Congress, then they will be the ones tarred as preventing progress, which will likely alienate centrist voters whose votes they will need.
The purpose of a free and fair election is to afford the public with the opportunity to have their voices heard. The American people have spoken resoundingly and have chosen a new direction and vision for our country. Our elected officials — both Republicans and Democrats — should get to work immediately.
Madden is the Director of Advocacy Projects at Independent Women's Voice