Democrats win – now what?

Democrats are having a really good week.

With most races decided, the left-wing party has swept to a clear majority in the House of Representatives and a narrow majority in the Senate, according to AP reports yesterday evening. The state of Ohio looks pretty blue today as well, with Democrats Ted Strickland and Sherrod Brown taking the governor and senator positions held by Republicans for more than a decade.

The mood across the country is decidedly against the current administration’s course. But that doesn’t mean everyone has bought into the Democratic agenda. In fact, that agenda remains somewhat undefined. And many votes Tuesday were cast to protest corruption and lack of leadership within the Republican Party – not because Democrats were terribly compelling candidates.

Regardless, Democrats won big Tuesday, and for the next two years, the party will be assured of controlling both houses of Congress. That means President George W. Bush won’t be able to steamroll his ideology through the legislature anymore. He will have to learn to work with the opposition if he wants anything to happen.

But now the Democrats must also define and push their agenda. Just what does the donkey party stand for anymore? For the past few years, all we’ve heard is opposition talk. They’re against the war in Iraq, against tax cuts and against Social Security personal retirement accounts. Democrats can’t just be against everything anymore. They need to package a comprehensive agenda to prove to the American people the right decision was made at the polls. Otherwise, this new majority will be short lived.

Our new leaders would also be wise to learn the lessons shared not just by the outgoing Republicans, but also by the Democrats of the early 1990s. In 1994, the GOP swept into office, much like the Democrats did this week, after the Dems were hit by a series of scandals.

The old phrase goes, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The American people have a right to demand their leaders act ethically and with the country’s interests in mind. Both parties have proven they are not immune to the temptation of lobbyists’ money and other inappropriate or illegal behavior. And voters have proven they will throw corrupt officials out.

On Tuesday, the country decided it was time for someone else to lead. Now, we wait. Show us your agenda. Show us you can fix the pressing problems of the land. Show us you can run the government without caving to lobbyists or breaking the law.

If you can do that, our decision two years from now won’t be hard at all.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.