Outside editorial: Republicans must deliver solid solutions

Posted: Thursday, November 04, 2010

The following editorial first appeared in the Dallas Morning News:

Republicans swept into power across much of the country, gaining control of the House and more seats in the Senate. What's more, they won key governors' races, including victories in swing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania. The comeuppance for President Barack Obama and his party marks the third consecutive presidency in which voters rebuked an administration in a mid-term election.

The Dallas Morning News welcomes the news that now both parties will be held accountable for what happens in Washington. We are hopeful that a Republican-led House will be more likely to rein in deficit spending and reform a flawed health care package passed by Democrats.

Going into the election, voters clearly remained worried about the economy and jobs. Those anxieties were matched by rising fears about the national debt and growth of government. Democrats, vulnerable on each front, endured the brunt of voters' frustration.

The backlash, unfortunately, caught up at least one Democrat who shared voters' concerns about those issues. U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards lost his seat to Republican Bill Flores, even though Edwards had voted against Democratic proposals for health care, climate change and financial services.

The moderate Texas Democrat knew how to work in-between the two parties and find common ground. Flores has not shown that instinct, but we hope he develops it. For Republicans to be effective as leaders, not just campaigners, they will need to turn to their own in-betweeners to get things done. Leaders like Ohio's new senator, Rob Portman, come to mind.

The party must resist the urge to play divisive politics with the hard questions of governance. That may be difficult, given the undeniable role the tea party played in this year's campaign. The movement jumped onto the front pages in January when its enthusiasts helped Republican Scott Brown win Democrat Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachusetts, of all places. The tea party never let up, proving that ordinary people can impact elections.

Polls have revealed anger at deficits, spending and the political establishment. Anger is understandable, but anger alone doesn't govern a country. Republican leaders like U.S. Rep. John Boehner, expected to become House speaker, must guide the party's insurgents without letting them drag the GOP down to its own defeat in 2012.

After all, independents have been swinging from one party to the other. While they leaned Republican this year, they may shift again if the GOP doesn't solve problems.

Republicans' skill in getting the country to deal with the hard choices will determine whether the nation can escape fiscal jeopardy. It also will determine whether the GOP retains power and even elects a president. After Tuesday's results, Republicans will have a new crop of governors to lead statehouses, which, of course, produced leaders like George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

But these are fickle times. Just ask the once-popular Barack Obama.

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