Jackie Gingrich Cushman
Part of the allure and fascination of politics is that you don't know what's going to happen until election night is over and all the votes have been counted. It is real-life, high-stakes drama. In the 1970s, it was volunteers who would call in the vote tallies from the precincts. They would be written on the blackboard and the totals calculated as the votes were called in.
Nowadays we rely on the Internet to give us information on where the races end up. Unless you know what counties come in first, it's hard to decipher the status of the races. In Georgia, for instance, the urban counties are normally more
Democratic-leaning, and the suburbs and rural counties more Republican.
The wave of GOP wins was much larger this week than many pundits had anticipated. As of Wednesday at 7 a.m. EST, on the Real Clear Politics website, Republicans had picked up seven Senate seats (giving them 52 and ensuring Republican control) and 12 House of Representative seats, giving them 243 total seats. Three governorships were picked up by Republicans as well, leaving the total count for governors at 31 Republicans to 15 Democrats.
This was not just a good night for Republicans - it was a great night.
There were several upsets. Bruce Rauner (R) won the governorship of Illinois, Obama's home state, beating incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn. Republican Larry Hogan beat Democrat Anthony Brown in the Maryland governor's race. Republican Joni Ernst won the Iowa Senate seat. Thom Tillis (R) beat Kay Hogan (D-Incumbent) for the North Carolina Senate seat.
In my home state of Georgia, where for months leading Democrats have been talking about potentially picking up both the open Senate seat and the governorship, Republicans won big. David Perdue (R) won the Georgia Senate seat, beating Michelle Nunn (D), and Gov. Nathan Deal (R) beat Jason Carter (D). In both contests, the Republicans won 53 percent of the votes versus 45 percent for the Democrats - thereby avoiding a run-off.
Republicans also picked up a House seat in Georgia, with Rick Allen beating incumbent John Barrow in the 12th district. Georgia - which many had been claiming before Tuesday night was turning blue - appears to be quite red indeed.
While the word "mandate" might be used by a few Republicans, the best word is once again "change." Voters were ready for a change - a change from President Obama. A change from a country where big government is championed as not only the solution to all problems, but as the creator of all jobs - to a country where people are empowered, set free and government becomes the last resort - not the first thought.
This is not so much an election where Republicans won, but an election where Democrats - in particular Obama - lost.
Republicans will be wise to see this as an opportunity that can easily be wasted if they are not careful. After watching Washington government not working for years, voters are ready to see action and effectiveness rather than rhetoric and politics.
Republicans would be wise to use this opportunity not to try to force through everything they want starting on day one, but to move deliberately and systematically toward the goal of governing the entire country.
By that, I mean governing both Republicans and Democrats.
At the beginning, the Republicans should focus on execution by rapidly passing bills -- first on bipartisan issues that Obama will have to sign, and then moving to more partisan issues that will allow for clear, clean lines to be drawn for the 2016 election.
While the Republicans are busying being effective and making Washington work, they should also be focusing on the long term - reaching out to women, minorities and anyone who is willing to work with them.
Winning is not about a short-term gain of seats, but should instead be about setting the stage for a larger win down the road. This requires that the Republicans govern the entire country.
This is the chance for Republicans to reach out, be inclusive and ensure that all Americans can have a brighter future together.
To find out more about Jackie Gingrich Cushman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.