History was made Tuesday in both the commonwealth and the nation. A political outsider won the presidency and did so while ignoring conventional political wisdom regarding campaign tactics.
More importantly for the commonwealth, a seismic political shockwave was felt across our state. I referred to it on election night as an historical roar of the people not dissimilar from that once referenced by Winston Churchill.
By now you’ve likely heard the numbers. For the first time in 95 years, Kentucky Republicans have a majority in the House. This new reality, along with the unity we now share in the Senate and governor’s office, will ensure the roar of the people of Kentucky will be heeded.
Now the political and statistical analysis will begin. I will leave that analysis to the pundits. However, I feel compelled to respond to a couple of narratives that I heard developing immediately after the election that clearly miss the mark.
Never miss a local story.
First, on the national level, I have already heard commentary that President-elect Donald Trump was merely swept into office by bitter, uneducated and mostly white Americans. This is a simplistic and ill-informed caricature and deserves to be rejected as such. I have traveled 100,000 miles around Kentucky during the last three years and spoken to thousands of people across the entire socio-economic and racial spectrum.
I hear one resounding theme: People are concerned about the direction of the country. That concern is valid and based on the reality of what they see and experience in their own communities. If our fellow Americans on the left attempt to explain away the election as merely a function of identity politics or xenophobia they have done themselves and the voters a disservice.
On a state level, the narrative that seems to be emerging is that Kentucky Republican candidates merely benefited from a “Trump tsunami” and rode his momentum into office. This narrow view ignores the results of Kentucky’s statewide elections in 2015 and what I have heard repeated hundreds of times from Kentuckians. It is also tremendously unfair to the many excellent and hardworking Republican candidates and their supporters.
One needn’t look to statistics or data analysis to evaluate the meaning of the 2016 election. The examination of the results is truly quite simple. We need only to listen to the roar of the people.
Kentuckians are hungry to become the best version of ourselves. We are creative, entrepreneurial, and innovative. We are willing to roll up our sleeves and work hard. We do not want a government that quenches those attributes. In fact, we demand a government that will either come alongside us in our efforts or at least get out of our way.
Tuesday’s vote was a rejection of oppressive regulations, burdensome tax policy and cronyism. It was also a rejection of government policies on cultural and moral issues, most of which were force fed to our state by the Obama administration, that in no way reflect Kentucky values.
Our administration has always been committed to establishing policies that allow the entrepreneurial spirit of Kentuckians to thrive. Now I expect those policies, along with some that are still being developed, to be fully implemented. Among the things that Kentucky citizens can look forward to:
▪ A continuation of our Red Tape Reduction initiative.
▪ A less oppressive tax policy that will be business friendly.
▪ A willingness to leverage the tremendous natural resources and beauty of our state to our economic advantage.
▪ Transparency in our state pension system and throughout all of state government. (If the people are paying the bill they have a right to see how their money is being invested.)
▪ Tort reform.
▪ The passage of right-to-work legislation.
▪ A rejection of Common Core and the opportunity for parents and students to have true school choice.
Kentucky is a beautiful jewel in the mosaic that is the United States of America. Unfortunately, years of bad policy and crony politics have allowed that jewel to gather dust. Our administration is going to unite with Kentucky voters of both parties to polish that jewel until it shines like a beacon of excellence for all the world to see.
The election of 2016 will be written about as a victory for the GOP. It was more than that. A victory was won for the people of Kentucky and the people of America. The roar is coming through loud and clear.
Matt Bevin is governor of Kentucky.