Last September, Nancy Pelosi warned Americans that a Republican Senate majority would mean that "civilization as we know it would be in jeopardy." We can only hope the Congresswoman is putting the finishing touches on her doomsday bunker, because it’s official -- the Republican Party holds the keys to the Senate for the first time since 2007.
The question now becomes, what are they going to do with them? A dual majority gives the Republican Party a tremendous opportunity to lead, but also a responsibility to regain America’s faith in the legislative process by passing good policy and functioning properly.
But despite the long road of work that lies ahead, there are some things worth celebrating immediately:
- Harry Reid can no longer block fiscally responsible policy reforms from reaching the Senate floor.
- Barack Obama can no longer legislate from the White House while the Senate sits idly by, rubber stamping his unilateral political agenda.
But after the confetti settles, it’s time for the GOP to get to work. Unfortunately, their hand-picked candidates failed to articulate their policy priorities from the campaign trail, and instead relied on a campaign platform that can be best summed up as “I’m not Barack Obama.”
But “I’m not Barack Obama” is most certainly not the compelling legislative agenda that Republicans so desperately need. And it’s no secret at this point that Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are not the leaders who will lead Republicans towards a positive pro-reform platform with real policy solutions.
The real policy solutions are going to come from the “Ideas Wing” of the GOP in the next House and Senate, the new generation of principled and energetic leadership that came in with the classes of ’10, ’12 and ’14.
Watch for newly-elected Ben Sasse to spearhead health care reform legislation that puts patients first and lowers costs. Senator Mike Lee will become a guiding think-tank for the GOP from his new leadership position on the Senate Steering Committee. Members of the Liberty Caucus like Justin Amash and Thomas Massie will continue to drive issues like Internet freedom and civil liberties in the House.
Republican leadership has the opportunity to put failed programs on the table for elimination, return to regular order, put these ideas on the president’s desk and force him to explain why he opposes good policy.
If a Republican-led House and Senate can work together to send real reforms to the White House, they will set the stage for a successful 2016 presidential battle. The American people will finally have a good idea of what the GOP stands for, and see who has really been creating gridlock in Washington when Obama sends them back.
Simply opposing the president without alternative policy solutions is not going to cut it anymore. If the GOP can unite around an inclusive liberty agenda in 2016 and engage -- rather than alienate -- their grassroots base, they’ll win big just like they should have in 2012.
I believe in the new generation of leadership in the GOP, and the growing coalition of small-l libertarians who will join them in the next Congress. Enjoy the victory, finish your drinks, but on Wednesday morning, it’s time to lead.
Matt Kibbe is president and chief community organizer of Free the People. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, "Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff." Follow him on Twitter at @MKibbe.