November 7, 2018

Thoughts on election 2018

Topic: Events

By Pete Hanebutt, NDFB Public Policy Director

We’ve turned the page on the 2018 election and I’m happy to put this one on the shelf. Regardless of outcomes, victories or losses, by Monday I had reached the saturation point. Now, we should turn our thoughts to the outcome for our state and our country. What will we see in the next Congress and what changes can we anticipate? The Blue wave, as predicted, never really materialized except for the Democrats taking control of the House. The Republicans increasing their majority in the Senate buoys any perceived wave, and the president can legitimately lay claim to any GOP success. For those who need to proclaim their side won, or that the other side lost, there will be plenty of room for interpretation. But who are the real losers and winners?

When we look back on this election in a decade or so, we may see the only real winners were the Washington establishment: The staffers, bureaucrats, lobbyists, organizations and stakeholders who live every day in ignorance of anything happening outside of the beltway. This is not necessarily meant as a disparagement, but rather it’s a reality check on the incoming Congress. Regardless of the real-life practical knowledge every new member of the 116th Congress brings to the table, there will be thousands if not tens of thousands of engrained insiders and former congressmen bending their ears and telling them “how things work in Washington.”

Does this imply the electorate is getting the short end of the stick? Not at all! Voters can benefit from the vast amount of accumulated knowledge within the District of Columbia. It is a somewhat choppy sea, however, and vigilance is required if government of, by, and for the people is to become a reality.

We owe it to ourselves and our children to nourish and maintain relationships with all our elected officials, and in particular, those who go to Washington. It must be extremely difficult to sustain any sense of reality and humility when you become, (overnight) one of the 535 people who are in charge of managing our government: Where every sycophant imaginable is at your beck and call. If the citizens don’t ride herd on their congressional delegation it will be easy for non-constituents to disproportionally influence them and our entire government.

While we may wipe our brow and rejoice with the general emptiness of our mail boxes, this is no time to ignore our responsibilities as citizens. It’s often said, “We get out of government what we put into it,” and that statement has never been more truthful. Those of us who voted have fulfilled the first obligation of citizenship. If you didn’t vote: a) shame on you for betraying what others have died to preserve; and b) never complain because you haven’t earned the right to complain.

The rest of us will get busy protecting the franchise by staying involved within our communities and by paying attention to what those who we just elected are doing in Washington. It may not be a full-time commitment but staying involved in public policy and public affairs is certainly a lifetime obligation.