Glenn Beck's “Restoring Honor” rally held at the Lincoln Memorial inspired an estimated 300,000 people from across the country to come to Washington. Attendees donated slightly more than $5 million for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Despite the distinctly spiritual overtones to the event, however, much of the coverage focused on opposition expressed by speakers and attendees to President Obama's political and economic agenda. But the most important message from this event was likely aimed at congressional Republicans and it was anything but otherworldly: The voters are watching and they aren't going to settle for mere promises.
The GOP must remember that the Tea Party movement started barely a month into Obama's term, mere days following the passage of the $862 billion economic stimulus package. The protests were sparked in great part by CNBC's Rick Santelli with his on-air protest of Washington's growing list of taxpayer-funded bailouts of politically connected corporations such as insurance giant AIG. As he stood on the trading floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange, Santelli called for a “Chicago Tea Party,” which elicited a cheer from the traders and resolve by citizen activists across the country. But the movement was not then and is not today simply a response to Obama: It's a bipartisan protest that includes dismay over the bailouts of President George W. Bush and the big spending by the Republican congressional majority before 2006.
With the 2010 midterm congressional elections barely two months away, the GOP is heavily promoting its “America Speaking Out” listening tour. But the Republican leadership has yet to come forward with a definitive plan for governing if voters return them to the majority in either the House or Senate, or both. The Examiner is told such a plan is coming in late September. The sooner, the better: The party's future depends on it. So far there are only tiny green shoots here and there now, like pledges to put cameras in House Rules Committee meetings and provide a 72-hour period for the public to read the final version of a bill before the House votes on it.
Politico reports that Minority Leader John Boehner has also pledged a GOP majority would ban “omnibus” spending bills and ego-boosting, tax-funded projects named after living lawmakers. These are important but small advances in the war on Big Government. Boehner can promise to change the way Congress legislates, but Republicans must show the American people a credible, concrete plan to reduce government taxes and spending, resolve the entitlement crisis and cut the national debt, reinvigorate Main Street and entrepreneurial free enterprise, repeal and replace Obamacare, control our borders, and much else. If they don't, little will change in Washington except that Republicans will then share even more of the blame with Obama and the Democrats for the disaster in the nation's capital.