- Atheists’ Easter taunt to Christians: ‘Jesus is a myth’
- Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas City show
- Josh Romney swipes Harry Reid with photo tweet of dad paying taxes — ‘your paycheck’
- Despite Obamacare problems, some Dems want Sebelius to run for Senate: report
- Angry New Yorkers shred gun registrations in deadline day protests
- Uninsured rate dropping faster in places that embraced pillars of Obamacare, survey shows
- Hawaii, D.C. give residents two more weeks to sign up under Obamacare
- Climate change causing fish to lose their minds, researchers say
- Great Britain tops World’s Most Sexist Nation list
- Aaron Hernandez investigated for threatening to kill prison guard
MASTIO: Big win, small opportunity
GOP still needs to win trust of voters for big change
Republicans may have won big last night, but before they do anything with their newfound clout, they should start thinking small. That’s exactly the opposite of what the permanent Washington establishment - including many of the GOP’s own leaders - will start whispering in their ears once that wave of new congressmen and senators crosses the Potomac.
You can hear it already from The Washington Post’s Slate magazine: “If the new leaders make a big deal about banning ‘earmarks’ - which amount to less than 1 percent of federal spending - count it as a feint. If they propose means-testing Medicare or raising the retirement age, count them as serious.”
To deal with an ethical and budgetary morass that outrages the American people, you see, is a waste of time because the pointless spending is a mere 10 or 15 billion bucks. Serious politicians should deal only with gargantuan issues that will personally impact every American’s life.
Such thinking is a trap. First, in a divided Washington, big things are only going to happen after big compromises. That’s not why Tea Party voters sent new Republicans to Washington, but breaking the bond between a new generation of leaders and their Tea Party backers is exactly why Washington old-timers want 2010’s victors to start bending the knee. Once separated from powerful grass-roots support, new Washington leaders will have to fall back on the money and lobbyists of traditional Washington.
Second, the message of the past three elections is simple: The public does not trust any politician or party to rearrange their world or their lives.
The public is sick of big. From America’s longest war to its most expensive nation-building project to its giant new health entitlement launched by Republicans to the Democrats’ thousand-page laws on health care and consumer finance (soon to be followed by millions of pages of regulations), which will mandate how we’re born to how we die while supervising every financial transaction of our lives in between, no one knows how any of this will turn out a decade from now.
Will Iraq be a stable bulwark of democracy or a reinvigorated source of terror? Will the new credit card rules crush consumer credit and hopes for economic recovery, or do they herald the promised golden age of fairness for the little guy? Such vast interventions with such unknowable consequences quite rightly inspire fear as much as hope.
Plenty of people in politics and journalism think they know how such efforts will work out in the long run, but far-too-frequently-burned voters now demand to verify before they trust.
What the Republican wave on its way to Washington needs to do is take a deep breath and start very small. The earmark reform that Slate so disdains is exactly the kind of small step GOP insurgents can take that will build the trust to do something more.
Banning earmarks isn’t arcane, so the public can understand it and opponents cannot sow fear. The decision to kill earmarks is clear and principled, so demands for compromise will fall flat. Overwhelming majorities of both parties want it, so if Democrats use their remaining levers of power to block it, they will pay a price.
String together a series of such steps, and Republicans can turn the opportunity that voters gave them Tuesday night into a mandate to take the bigger steps the nation so desperately needs.
David Mastio is deputy editorial page editor of The Washington Times.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Mastio, former Deputy Editorial Page Editor at The Washington Times, was an editorial writer and op-ed editor for USA Today, Washington correspondent for The Detroit News, editorial writer for The Virginian-Pilot, founding Editorial Page Editor of The Washington Examiner and speechwriter for World Bank President Robert Zoellick when he was the United States Trade Representative under President George W. ...
- MASTIO: Know-nothing scientists
- MASTIO: Forgive us our Tea Parties
- MASTIO: Dead bodies demand organic food moratorium
- MASTIO: NPR's reality deficit
- MASTIO: Urgent new protection for felons' feelings
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By returning to Christian roots, the nation can achieve greatness once again
Get Breaking Alerts
- Fuel-filled wings, ability to swarm: Pentagon offers glimpse at future of drone fleet
- Secret U.S. assessments show Afghanistan not ready to govern on own
- CARSON: Recovering Tocqueville's vision of American exceptionalism
- 'Culture of intimidation' seen in Nevada ranch standoff
- GOP writes legislation to deny Attorney General Eric Holder his salary
- Nevada Bundy ranch standoff could leave dirt on Harry Reid reputation
- WEBER: Obamacare cuts home healthcare for millions of seniors
- HURT: Wilson and Obama ... 100 years apart, but so alike
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- Al Qaeda mocks U.S. in 'extraordinary' Yemen gathering; experts fear CIA caught flat-footed
Recent Letters to the Editor
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Solution to Cyprus dispute is no 'mistake'
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Obama's real wealth redistribution scheme
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Obamacare numbers nothing to celebrate
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Unanswered bus-crash questions
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Lerner won't face meaningful punishment