11/06/10 — Message sent? The question now: Did they really understand mandate -- and did we?

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Message sent? The question now: Did they really understand mandate -- and did we?

You really could not tell this week if anyone learned anything from Tuesday's election results.

On one hand, President Barack Obama was seemingly conciliatory and said he heard what the voters said. Yet, his top lieutenants in Congress vowed to fight on with the current agenda, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was downright antagonistic.

And on the Republican side, a choked up Rep. John Boehner spoke about living the American dream and bringing a new can-do attitude to the job of speaker of the House -- and then had a press conference outlining where the majority would attack first.

And some of that is because Americans sent a mixed message Tuesday. They did not throw everyone out and start over. They did not resoundingly defeat incumbents and anyone anywhere who ever agreed with the president's agenda. They did not hand the keys back to the Democrats, but they did not hand them over to the Republicans either.

So, many politicians might not be sure -- do voters want change and cooperation or a total revamp of what has been done to date?

And that is because we have a much wiser electorate this time around. We deliberately left many of them off-kilter -- on purpose.

Perhaps many of us thought that if no one knew really what the score was, they might work harder to listen to what the people want -- and steer the country in that direction rather than toward their own agendas.

There is one message that we hope was loud and clear: Americans like America. We are proud of our country and the force that it has been in the world since its inception. We know we have made mistakes, but we feel the good we have done outweighs the bad.

In other words, we don't think our nation is broken -- and change for us, really, is more like alteration and modernization of a dream that has worked for generations of Americans for more than 230 years. Our values, however, remain intact and central to who we are as a nation and a people. And we want to keep it that way.  

Of course, we are going to find out that there was funny business in this election -- there always is. Some of the close races in the Senate seemed to awfully conveniently take a sudden turnaround.

And maybe that is a good thing.

Keeping politicians on their toes and off-balance is a good way to get them to pay attention -- and to not get too comfortable.

So, the message we likely hoped to send -- that we do not like the direction this nation is taking and that we have other priorities -- might not be fully comprehended yet, but the wheels are turning.

But what is certain is that many, many of the leaders in Washington have been reminded just who is in charge of this nation. And a whole bunch of voters have been reminded of it, too.

So, no matter how long it takes to get this country set back on course, the reality is that politicians have reminded us that we really are the captains of the ship -- and we are taking the wheel.

And that is what the Founding Fathers intended. 

Published in Editorials on November 6, 2010 11:31 PM