As Republicans seized control of the House of Representatives in an electoral wave more forceful than the GOP takeover in 1994, the next likely Speaker of the House, John Boehner, appeared highly emotional late Tuesday night as he set a new way forward under Republican control.
"For far too long, Washington has been doing what's best for Washington -- not what's best for America," Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "Tonight, that begins to change."
The current House minority leader told supporters gathered at a Republican watch party in downtown Washington that Americans voted Tuesday to demand a new way forward in American politics.
"The people's priorities will be our priorities. The people's agenda will be our agenda. This is our pledge to America, this is our pledge to you!" Boehner exclaimed. "It's clear who the winners are tonight, and that's the American people. Your voice was heard at the ballot box! Your voice!"
Boehner promised that the new Republican majority is prepared to legislate differently than either party has in the past.
"It starts with cutting spending instead of increasing it, reducing the size of government instead of expanding it, reforming the way Congress works and giving government back to the people, and for all those families asking 'where are the jobs?,' it means ending the uncertainty in our economy and helping small businesses get people back to work," Boehner said.
Boehner became emotional as he recalled his own pursuit of the American dream, tears flowing down his face at the podium, and his voice quivering.
"Listen I started out mopping floors, waiting tables, and tending bar at my dad's tavern. I put myself through school working every rotten job there was and every night shift I could find. And I poured my heart and soul into running a small business," Boehner said choking through tears. "When I saw how out-of-touch Washington had become with the core values of this great nation, I put my name forward and ran for office."
Boehner said that despite the historic outcome of the election, now is "not a time for celebration."
"Not when one in 10 of our fellow citizens are out of work. Not when we have buried our children under a mountain of debt. Not when our Congress is held in such low esteem," Boehner said. "This is a time to roll up our sleeves, to look forward with determination and to take the first steps toward building a better future for our kids and grandkids."
Boehner said that across the country, Americans are witnessing a "repudiation of Washington, a repudiation of big government, and a repudiation of politicians who refuse to listen to the people."
The 10-term congressman said that while the Republicans' new majority will serve as America's voice in the House, it is the president who sets the agenda for the government. Americans, Boehner said, sent a message loud and clear Tuesday to President Obama to "change course."
"We hope President Obama will now respect the will of the people, change course, and commit to making the changes they are demanding. To the extent he is willing to do this, we are ready to work with him," Boehner said. "But make no mistake, the president will find in our new majority the voice of the American people as they've expressed it tonight: standing on principle, checking Washington's power, and leading the drive for a smaller, less costly, and more accountable government."
But Boehner foresaw a time when America will be able to celebrate once again.
"We can celebrate when small businesses are creating jobs again. We can celebrate when the spending binge in Washington has stopped," Boehner said. "We can celebrate when we have a government that has earned back the trust of the people it serves, when we have a government that honors our Constitution and stands up for the values that have made America, America: economic freedom, individual liberty, and personal responsibility."