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ROBB AUSTIN'S TURN

2010 Warning Signal: Democrats Beware

March 11, 2010

The stage is set for the 2010 congressional elections, and indications are, it will be a watershed year, not unlike high profile congressional elections of year’s past.

This time, voter warning is clear, Democrats beware.

History shows that voters usually provide politicians with an early indication of things to come, and this year is no different. Election contests in Virginia, Massachusetts, and New Jersey have already gone solidly for the Republicans.

In 1978, a taxpayers revolt swept the country. It was a political prairie fire that started in California by a little known citizen activist named Howard Jarvis. The activist was responsible for Proposition 13, a California property tax-slashing initiative that passed with 66% of the vote, and one that cut individual property taxes by nearly 60%.

Proposition 13 turned into a national trend that changed the political scene for decades, and resulted in a new conservative anti-tax Republican party, one that remains today.

Proposition 13 also spawned conservative thinkers such as Newt Gingrich (R-Ga), and Dick Cheney (R-Wy), both of whom were elected to the House of Representatives in 1978. The voter revolt opened the flood gates in 1980 with the election of Ronald Reagan as President, and a cadre of like-minded conservatives to the House and Senate in congressional elections that same year.

Fast forwarding to 1994, and there was a 54-seat swing in the House of Representatives membership from Democrats to Republicans, and for the first time in 40 years, Republicans took control of the House, and elected Newt Gingrich as Speaker.

Some say a Republican campaign document called, the "Contract with America" was the impetus behind the Republican takeover that year, but the truth is, it had little to do with the Democrat collapse in 1994.

The ‘Contract with America’ gave Republican candidates talking points (the ‘contract’ was unveiled in a Washington D.C. rally six weeks before the election), but few voters knew what was in the document - most had not heard of it on election day.

The Republican sweep occurred because of a taxpayer revolt against Democrat corruption, with the House banking scandal providing the most voter anger that year.

The Democrat controlled House "bank" (it wasn’t a bank at all) gave members of Congress the kinds of ‘perks’ the average citizen could only dream about. It allowed Congressmen to "bounce" checks for personal services, without penalty.

The sweetheart deal was too much for voters to ignore. One Congressman had "bounced" 996 checks, and the scandal involved hundreds of members of Congress, mostly Democrats.

Among many others, voters ousted Democrat House Speaker Tom Foley (D-Wash); Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; and Jack Brooks (D-Tex), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, in the 1994 elections.

In 2008, voters turned to Senator Barrack Obama and the Democrats, hoping for change and a new beginning. Yet already, there is dissatisfaction with President Obama, and the super Democrat majority he enjoys in Congress.

Despite the President’s good intentions, voters are clearly upset with the handling of the war in Iraq, the mounting deficit, unemployment and the economy, and health care reform.

Voters are not bashful about making their feelings known on election day, and unless Democrats change course quickly, 2010 could be another watershed year for Republicans.

The warning signals, however, are clear: Democrats beware.