November 10, 2010


By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Last Tuesday, American voters sent a very loud and clear message to those politicians who are serving us in Washington, D.C. Americans, by and large, are frustrated with what is going on, not only in Washington, D.C., but in the United States.
People are tired of the partisan politics. They are tired of the federal government shoving programs (federal health care) and policies (EPA requirements) down their throats. The American public is deeply concerned about the economy, the lack of jobs and the high unemployment. And lest we forget, most Americans think that the national debt is so far out of control that it verges on bankrupting this country.
So during Tuesday’s midterm election, Americans voted for change. And in doing so, they ousted the people in Washington, D.C., who they thought were responsible for the bad economy, the national debt and lack of jobs - the Democrats.
Was that the best thing for voters to do? Maybe and maybe not. Only time will tell. But it sure got the attention of a lot of politicians. And the message voters sent was, “Listen to us and to our concerns, and then do something about it.”
Democrats and President Obama are wondering what they are going to do to salvage their agenda in the wake of the public’s rush to put Republicans in Washington, D.C. And Republicans think that they now have a public mandate to throw out Obamacare, extend tax cuts, slash the federal budget, and shrink the size of government.
The challenge before the Democrats and Republicans is that they are going to have to work together to solve the problems. And that means really working together. America didn’t just wake up one morning to all of the problems that it is facing today. And the problems are not going to be solved overnight. And they sure aren’t going to be solved unless the two parties can come together and make it work.
But while the politicians do their thing, the American people need to recognize that the changes that they, the voters, apparently want our elected leaders in Washington, D.C., to make are not going to come without some tears and anguish.
For example, if the size of the federal government and the national debt is going to shrink, then some of the programs and the benefits that we, as voters, receive may have to go away or shrink as well. That could mean there will be less federal entitlement funds, less Social Security and Medicare money. It may mean less federal assistance for farmers, roads and bridges and the list stretches on as does the federal budget.
And that is where the rubber is going to meet the road. While everyone wants to rein in the federal government, no one wants their share of the take to be cut. For example, in this week’s Farmer is a Prairie Poll story that asked North Dakotans which entitlements they would be willing to give up. Not surprisingly, 84 percent didn’t want their Social Security and Medicare payments touched, 66 percent said that Medicaid should be left alone, 65 percent didn’t want changes to free lunches at schools, 42 percent didn’t want their government pension reduced and 53 percent said they didn’t want cuts to the farm subsidies.
Americans want a change. That’s what they voted for. They just don’t know how to create more jobs, grow the economy, reduce the federal deficit or to help make this nation strong again.
The task of sorting out what Americans really want is going to fall on President Obama, the Democrats and the Republicans. They have two short years to get the economy back on track and to begin solving the nation’s troubles or once again face the wrath of the American voter.
Perhaps a good place for them to start the process would be by listening to the people..