Wednesday, November 3, 2010


The voice of the people is the voice of God. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.

The people’s voice is heard through elections. Their sovereign powers are exercised directly through people’s initiative or propositions and indirectly through their elected representatives.

The recently held elections gave some very interesting results.  In general, the people handed power to the Republicans and Tea Partiers in the House and to the Democrats in the Senate. 

Under the U.S. Constitution, the House is granted the exclusive powers to initiate revenue bills, impeach officials, and elect the President in Electoral College deadlocks.

The Senate in turn is granted the exclusive powers to give consent to treaties as a precondition to their ratification, to give consent or confirmation of appointments of Cabinet secretaries, federal judges, other federal executive officials, military officers, regulatory officials, ambassadors, and other federal uniformed officers. It is also empowered to conduct the trial of federal officials impeached by the House.

Of course, aside from their exclusive powers, the two Congressional bodies are together empowered to legislate on other matters benefiting the people provided that the President signs the passed bills into law.  If the President vetoes them, it takes 2/3 votes of the House and the Senate voting separately to override the veto. This means that the President’s legislative power is really equivalent to 2/3 votes minus 1.

Recognizing the above-mentioned Constitutional mandate, and considering that the Republicans were given control of the House and the Democrats the Senate, what then were the voices shouted by the people?

It might be advisable to look at the surveys prior to the elections as well as the exit polls on issues that are of concern to the people. These issues should be read and analyzed together with the election results.

The issues brought out during the campaign were taxes, deficit, social security, healthcare, financial regulations, Afghanistan, energy and global warming, Start Treaty, and education. According to exit polls conducted by the Edison Institute and published by CNN and the Associated Press, 62% of the voters name the economy as their most important issue this year. Ranked as a distant second is health care being named by 19%, illegal immigration follows at 8% and Afghanistan at 7%.

Worth mentioning and resulting from the exit polls is that the respondents were unhappy with everyone in government, from President Obama to Congress and that they have a similar view of the Democrats and the Republicans – NEGATIVE.

The Democrats got a positive opinion of 43% from the voters but a negative one of 53%. The Republicans were given thumbs up by 41% but thumbs down also by 53% from the voters.

How do we read the election results and the exit polls as expression of the will of the American people?

The Republican-controlled House is expected to initiate revenue bills that would reduce taxes, spending and correspondingly, deficits. It is also expected to initiate bills that would try to help the economy and encourage job creation. The Bush tax cuts are expiring. Both parties are in favor of extending the tax cuts for couples earning not more  than $250K or for singles earning not more than $200K. The Republicans would fight for extending tax cuts for everybody including earners of more than $250K.  There would be disagreements between the parties.

The American people’s mandate is for the parties to compromise.  The people expect both to find ways to work together.

The Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to give full attention and review of the revenue and economic bills initiated by the House. It is likewise expected that it would have its own proposals. The voters want the Senate to accelerate confirmation of President Obama’s federal appointments be they judges, ambassadors, military officers or other federal officials.  Treaties like the START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) which was entered into between U.S. and Russia should be given greater attention. Again, there would be disagreements between parties.

The American people’s mandate is also for the parties to learn how to work together and seek to compromise.

The art of RECONCILIATION of bills by the House and Senate shall be tested and displayed for the benefit of the sovereign American people.

In more specific terms, the mid-term elections also brought some special results that affected Filipino-Americans. My barber particularly mentioned two elected Filipino-Americans who won overwhelmingly. Republican Ohio Congressman Steve Austria got reelected as a member of the new House catapulted by the historic Republican tsunami. Democrat Maryland State Delegate Kris Valderrama also got reelected with tremendous support from Filipinos in coalition with other minorities. She won despite opposition from her own State Senator and the party machine in both the primaries and the general election. She was however endorsed and supported by the AFSME (American Federal, State, and Municipal Employees) Union, the winning Maryland Governor, Senate President and Speaker.

In California and in Nevada where Filipinos are dominant among Asians, the former is partially credited for the victories of Governor-elect Jerry Brown and Re-elected U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer of California and Nevada’s Senate Majority Floor Leader Harry Reid.

By giving the Republicans some major powers including some exclusive ones, the people correspondingly also gave them major responsibilities. They have two years to show how they would exercise the given powers to meet their responsibilities.

The Democrats in the Senate are given another chance within a longer period to show how they would work with President Obama and the Republicans both in the Senate and in the House.

Will all the parties concerned listen to Vox Populi Vox Dei?  We will know in the next two years.

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