People are angry and understandably so - they're not getting what they want from politicians. While our problems are as great as they have ever been, faith in government to fix them is at an all time low. We are still hungry for change, but change has never seemed so elusive.
What's clear after this election is that people are still dissatisfied with the status quo - in the way politicians bicker, in the way Washington works, in the way that their elected officials demonstrate understanding of what real families deal with every day. The frustration is understandable. In election after election, Americans have voted for change that never seems to materialize. We are now in familiar territory, and the post-November letdown feels inevitable. Both parties ought to take heed: Voters will keep voting for change until they get it, whatever party is in power.
Consider as evidence: The White House has not celebrated on Election Night since 2004. The party in power lost the gubernatorial races in 2005, the Congressional races in 2006, the gubernatorial races in 2007, the Presidency in 2008, the gubernatorial races in 2009 and the 2010 midterms.
There is good news in our yearning, though, because it signals that we still believe in the power of government to do good. Democrats can deliver a better future, but our brand is suffering - despite the well-intentioned efforts of our party's leaders to put the country back on the right track. Our path back begins with governors.
Of all the elected officials in the country, governors are closest to the people. They can rebuild the Democratic brand that was tarnished in this election. They should serve as a critical sounding board for President Obama as he seeks to reconnect with the public and produce tangible progress on the economy. They can show voters that being a Democrat means standing with hard-working families, holding the line on irresponsible government spending and making investments that will make our country stronger.
Voters are not looking for an extreme ideology, but they will soon learn that the Republican agenda is outside the mainstream. As governors grapple with the most challenging state budget shortfalls in generations, the rubber will meet the road for Republicans who promised that voters that they could pay nothing and have everything. Vague commitments and nebulous promises will collide with budget realities. Voters will see their tax dollars go to other states, as Democratic governors accept federal funding for infrastructure that Republicans turn away. Some voters will see their governors chop education and critical services, while others see where governors hold the line on investments that will put states back for years to come.
Democratic governors have an extraordinary track record of far-sighted leadership, which is why the gubernatorial races were a bright spot for the party this year. In the worst landscape in decades, we held Republicans below their projections, flipped five states from red to blue, and actually had a winning record in races where we spent money. Keep an eye on the governors and governors-elect who prevailed in the toughest possible circumstances. They understand voters' anger, and they are working to deliver for them.
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