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Washington can hear you now

By Jim DeMint
Sunday, September 19, 2010; A19

Christine O'Donnell's win on Tuesday may have shocked establishment politicians and the media, but it was no surprise for everyday Americans who have been struggling to get Washington's attention.

On Sept. 12, 2009, millions of citizens rallied across the country. They gathered in the nation's capital and other cities to convey a clear message: You work for us; we don't work for you. Stop the bailouts, the takeovers, the debt and dependence.

For years, conservatives have been told that the only way to create a big-tent party was to support big-government candidates who were "electable," rather than principled. History suggests otherwise. Majorities are built on principles, not the other way around.

When that big tent came to Washington last September, everyone in it was yelling that they wanted less government, not more. Democrats mocked these voters and tuned them out, but liberty-minded Republican candidates tuned them in. As a result, races that were once considered unwinnable have flipped from "safe Democrat" to "lean Republican" this election cycle.

Thanks to the grass roots, Republicans have a slate of candidates who believe in constitutional, limited government. We will balance the budget, repeal the unconstitutional health-care takeover, create a predictable tax and regulatory environment in which businesses can create jobs, and restore a sense of fairness to the economy. This platform stands in stark contrast to the Democrats' record. They have racked up trillions in debt on bad legislative bets, picking winners and losers in almost every major market sector. Their policies created turmoil and uncertainty, not prosperity.

In 2006 and 2008, bailouts, bipartisan support for earmarks and big spending bills no one had read blurred the lines between the Republicans and Democrats. But after Barack Obama was elected president, Washington's economic policies went from bad to worse. In a short time the Obama White House and the Pelosi-Reid Congress have made clear that they intend to push America to the left of Europe.

Americans quickly realized that if this country was going to survive, they needed to elect people who would respect, not ignore, the limits of government prescribed by the Constitution. I vowed to do all I could to help. The Senate Conservatives Fund, which I chair, was designed to do just that. I knew in my heart that the Republican Party could save this country if it could recruit more members to stand up for the principles of freedom.

It took a rough-and-tumble primary cycle to find enough people willing do it. Now it's time to give the Democrats a heartbreaker election in November.

Obama's honeymoon is over. None of his so-called legislative achievements lives up to its label. The trillion-dollar stimulus plan produced massive debt but few jobs. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act hasn't made health care affordable. Instead, health insurance rates are rising. And the financial reform bill didn't touch Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae -- the government-controlled culprits of the financial meltdown that have tallied hundreds of billions in losses for taxpayers.

All of these programs were built on the flawed idea that the government, not the free market, could fix the economy. Democrats and their allies thought these programs would be so popular they would seal their lock on Washington for years to come. But Republicans who dared to challenge the policies are ahead in the polls.

Now the Senate's most powerful Democrat is neck and neck with conservative Sharron Angle. Incumbent senators in the reliably Democratic states of Washington and Wisconsin are struggling to compete with common-sense candidates Dino Rossi and Ron Johnson, respectively. Folks such as Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania and Marco Rubio in Florida are headed to victory because they stood with the people against career politicians. This is happening across the country, from Alaska to Delaware.

These men and women are coming to Washington to join the fight, not the club. Their principles are clear: free-enterprise economics, limited government and individual liberty. These views are based on 200 years of American history and written into our founding documents.

Democrats have desperately called these new leaders "radical," but Americans know what "radical" means after watching the Democrats run Washington.

Creating an entitlement program while the nation is $13 trillion in debt is radical. So is raising taxes while millions of Americans struggle to pay bills and find work. So is taking over the banks, auto companies, mortgage companies, the health-care system and the financial sector.

Americans have rallied against out-of-control government for two years. "Can you hear me now?" they yelled. Thankfully, a crop of common-sense conservative Republican candidates listened.

I'm praying for an earthquake election in November that will shake Washington to its core. I'm doing all I can to make it happen. And everyone who has been working toward this goal can be sure: All of Washington can hear you now.

The writer is a Republican senator from South Carolina.

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