The just-passed 2010 will be remembered as a banner year for conservatives. Here are the Top 10 successes for the conservative movement last year.
(1) GOP captures House: Republicans made historic gains in the House of Representatives, picking up 63 seats in the midterm elections and regaining control after four years in the minority. With the presidency and Senate still in Democratic hands, picking up the chamber will provide a much-needed check on the Left’s ambitious agenda. And the best news of all: Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
(2) Rise of the Tea Party: The Tea Party became a major force in the American political landscape. With its fiscal responsibility agenda, the amorphous Tea Partiers had a major impact on the midterm elections and breathed new life into a GOP that was still reeling after its 2008 electoral shellacking. Now if they just could do a better job in vetting some of their candidates (see Colorado, governor).
(3) States turn Right: The midterms also saw massive conservative gains in the states with Republicans picking up 680 seats in legislatures across the country and winning gubernatorial posts from Democrats in such key states as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin. That means the redistricting based on the 2010 census will strongly favor the GOP, resulting in more House pickups in 2012.
(4) Judge rules against Obamacare: Federal Judge Henry Hudson ruled that Obamacare’s individual mandate was unconstitutional. With Obama holding a veto pen, the best way to stop Obamacare will be in the courts. It probably will all come down to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
(5) Omnibus spending bill defeated: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid acted as if the election never happened and tried to ram a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill through the Senate during the lame-duck session. Republicans held firm, and Reid pulled back the pork-filled legislation. By flexing their muscles, Republicans made it clear that the election pushed the power pendulum in the Senate to the right.
(6) Gains in the Senate: While falling short of taking back the Senate, Republicans still gained six seats and will have plenty of solid conservatives in the freshmen class. Senate newcomers Marco Rubio (Fla.), Rand Paul (Ky.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H) and Ron Johnson (Wis.) are rising stars in the party. With Democrats having more than twice as many seats to defend in 2012, look for a Republican Senate takeover in the next election.
(7) DREAM Act defeated: Harry Reid also tried to sneak the DREAM Act through the Senate during the lame-duck session — a payback to Hispanic leaders for their help in his tough re-election bid. The DREAM Act, intended to give amnesty to illegal immigrants who enroll in college or enlist in the military, fell five votes short of the total needed for cloture. With the GOP House takeover, immigration policy will likely be toughened.
(8) GOP diversity: The GOP had never fielded so many winning women and minority candidates. Just look at the list: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Florida Rep. Allen West, South Carolina Rep. Tim Scott, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. It will be hard for the Left to pin the racist/sexist label on the Republican Party when it is running so many attractive, dynamic and diverse candidates.
(9) Cap and trade dead: The midterm election put the final stake in the heart of the cap-and-trade legislation, with Harry Reid not even trying to revive it in the lame-duck session. While there is virtually no chance a similar bill could make it through the new, more conservative Congress, Republicans need to work to keep the Environmental Protection Agency from enacting the measure administratively.
(10) Obama tanks: Obama fell hard from his messianic pedestal as even the Left soured on him. His drop in the polls was a result of his own failures: his tepid response to the Gulf oil spill, his economic policies not creating jobs, his crusade to enact an unpopular Obamacare. And his ineffective and gaffe-filled campaigning for the Democrats in the midterms was a gift to Republicans eager to nationalize the elections.
Editor’s Note: Check out yesterday’s Top 10 Political Gaffes Of 2010!