I’m old enough to remember the 2010 wave election in which every Republican candidate pledged allegiance to the Constitution, to limited government, and to freedom. Having achieved a significant victory, U.S. Rep. John Boehner claimed that the election results were a repudiation of big government, spending sprees, and bailouts. Check it out.
John Boehner was eventually elected Speaker of the House, and we know the rest of the story. Boehner’s 2010 speech now seems simplistic and almost naive. It’s a real tearjerker. Our 2018 selves are like the older brother looking down on a younger brother making an obvious revelation about how a bicycle works.
There is a lessen here about life’s fleeting victories. When you look out at the crowd watching John Boehner, you see smiling faces, bubbling enthusiasm, and inner strength. There was a real sense that the tide of history was rushing toward a new era of limited government, personal liberty, and free markets. What a fleeting victory it was.
The House is lost. Boehner is peddling pot, and his successor, Speaker Ryan, is retiring, which means that he is months away from being a highly paid lobbyist or adviser.
Contrast campaign 2010 with campaign 2018. This year, nearly every Republican defended federal health insurance coverage mandates, protectionist economic policy, and restrictive immigration laws.
All Republicans support people with pre-existing conditions, and if they don’t, they will after I speak to them. I am in total support. Also, Democrats will destroy your Medicare, and I will keep it healthy and well!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2018
Not a word was spoken about massive deficit spending or government overreach. As Boehner said in 2010, the American people have sent a powerful message to the President: “Change course.”
As long as there is no meaningful restraint on government spending, limited government will be a loser. The average voter does not care enough about the underlying theories of our Constitution, separation of powers, due process, rule of law, etc., to support limited government over bread and health care. Until we face the real tax burden of our spending appetites, there is no reason to skip dessert.
The beautiful spring of 2010 is over. It is snowing in November, and conservatives should plan for a long winter.