Tuesday was a night of victory after victory for the Republican Party. The GOP took control of the Senate, retained control of the House and won governorships in blue states including Maryland, Massachusetts and Illinois. A red tidal wave swept over the political landscape, surprising many who predicted closer races in states like Georgia and Texas. In Virginia, incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Warner expected a sizable seven-point margin of victory, yet ended up winning by about 9,000 votes out of approximately 2 million cast.
The canvassing, polling, fundraising and door-knocking paid off. However, the GOP should proceed with caution. Margins of victory in many cases were razor-thin. In the Massachusetts gubernatorial race, 31,000 votes made the difference. In Arizona’s second district, Republican challenger Martha McSally is still, as of this Tuesday, clinging to a narrow lead of 133 votes.
It is easy to forget about some of the narrow victories that get swept up in the excitement caused by Tuesday night’s results. It’s nice to think despite all the jokes and bad press that when things go wrong, America looks to the GOP for hope. Yet a victory doesn’t necessarily mean that the country believes the GOP can solve our problems; it simply means that they are disillusioned with the current Congress — a very important distinction.
During the last few years it has been easy for the Republican-controlled House to look at the Democrat-controlled Senate and point fingers. But now, it is up to the GOP to prove that they can turn things around. It is time to put all the talk into action.
The American people have shown in the past couple of midterm elections how willing they are to elect a new majority if things are not going well. If the Republican Party does not keep their promises during this new Congress, they should not be surprised if, come the next election cycle, the same thing happens to them.
This means the in-party bickering has to stop. Tea Partiers and the establishment need to come together, find some common ground, and work to put patriotism over party loyalty. The intransigence and the unwillingness to compromise need to be put aside. The American people should be able to look toward the GOP as a party that is ready to lead and move beyond the pettiness that epitomizes inside-the-beltway politics.
This is the moment Republicans have been waiting for and talking about since President Barack Obama came into office. America has given the party the opportunity to prove they are better suited for leadership. If the GOP wants a shot at the presidency in 2016, they should use these next two years to streamline their message and add a list of accomplishments to their résumé. In other words, let’s get back to work.