Perfect crime: the midterm elections

Republicans in Congress saw a huge victory in the 2010 midterm elections last week. The party gained more than 60 seats in the House of Representatives and took control of politics in Washington, D.C.

One may wonder how they managed it.

The GOP won because conservatives began the 2010 campaign the night after the 2008 presidential campaign ended.

Consider health care policies. The topic has been in liberal crosshairs for decades, and the huge number of Democrats elected in 2008 presented a prime opportunity to pass reform.

Facing milestone legislation, the Republicans chose to use an all-or-nothing strategy like the one they used against reform in 1994, hoping for “Obama’s Waterloo.” The debate lasted about one year. During that time, conservatives turned up the volume on their rhetoric to 200 percent – think “death panels.”

The result was a landmark bill that is destined to be with us for a long time, yet includes no significant Republican input. Thus, Republican leaders in Congress absolutely failed their constituents while at the same time convinced them they had done everything they could to represent them – a genius political move.

Speaking of political moves, the GOP has made unprecedented use of the filibuster to stop legislation.

A unified minority can stop nearly any law. Republicans have been using the tactic at twice the rate Democrats did under former President George W. Bush. In fact, the GOP used it about the same number of times in a little more than one year as it was used in the 50 years between the end of World War I and the lunar landings in the 1960s

What that means is that Democrats and President Barack Obama had a hard time passing measures in an effort to help the country because Republicans dragged their feet, refusing to provide ideas or input.

Another brilliant campaign talking point was based on tax reform.

Forget that USA Today reported that tax bills are the lowest they have been since about 1950. The Republicans told the American people that taxes are too high and we believed them.

Now that Republicans are back in power, their first order of business is to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the top 2 percent of earners – the same tax cuts that yielded such economic power that the nine years they have been in effect culminated in the worst economy since the Great Depression.

In the end, their master plan worked.

They won by playing a ruthless game of politics. They cried foul about taxes and amped up their rhetoric. They opposed Obama at every turn, and most startling, they accepted serious legislative losses because it would help them at the polls. They’ve contributed nothing significant over the past two years, yet the American people gave them power. They committed the perfect crime.

Vincent DeFrancesco is a junior majoring in mass communications.