By Lou Dobbs
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Editor's Note: Lou Dobbs' commentary appears weekly on CNN.com.
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Hallelujah, brothers and sisters. I'm not even sure what "hallelujah" means, but the word just feels right after witnessing what is at the very least an awakening of the power of the people. I'm hopeful that November 7 was also a declaration that middle-class Americans won't be taken for granted by either political party.
This midterm election was a victory for the Democratic Party. Voters rejected the Republican Party out of hand and gave the Senate and the House of Representatives to the Democrats.
Voters chose to overturn our current one-party political structure and returned checks and balance to our government. November 7 also demonstrated that the American electorate is far more discerning and independent-minded than either political party or our elites would like to believe.
While the Democratic Party was the clear winner, I don't believe for even a moment that the Democrats' ideals prevailed over Republican ideals. Election Day was middle-class America's declaration of independence from a Republican-led administration and Congress that for six years has been telling working men and women and their families in this country to shut up, listen up and go to hell.
The middle class just returned the favor and demonstrated discernment while delivering their loud message to Washington, D.C.
Take for example the state of Arizona, where voters sorted through 19 ballot initiatives, eight House races, one Senate race and chose a governor. Arizona voters approved four separate measures that revealed their frustration with the endless influx of illegal aliens into that state, including one measure that makes English the official language of Arizona. And don't think that the vote was an expression of social conservatism: Arizona also became the first state in the country's history to reject a ban on same-sex marriage, the only state among eight to do so this November.
Arizonans re-elected Senator John Kyl, who co-sponsored tough legislation to establish border security and reject illegal immigration. At the same time, they refused to send anti-illegal immigration candidates Randy Graf and incumbent J.D. Hayworth to Washington.
And voters in six states, including Arizona, approved initiatives raising minimum wages for their lowest-paid citizens. Those six states -- Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Nevada and Arizona -- joined 23 other states and Washington, D.C., which have already raised their minimum wage requirements above that of the federal government. The Republican-led Congress refused for nearly a decade to raise the federal minimum wage, despite the fact that the minimum wage's purchasing power is now at the lowest point in more than 50 years and business profits are soaring.
Surveying the long list of initiatives all across the country, it's clear that voters cast their ballots with intelligence and heart far greater than that of their elected officials. California voters, for example, rejected a proposition that would tax oil producers to create a $4 billion alternative energy program to reduce oil consumption by 25 percent. While I support the goal, the proposal was a weak-kneed and poorly considered one that would have simply created a pass-through to California's energy consumers.
Voters in nine states issued a stunning rebuke to all levels of government on the issue of eminent domain. In those states, voters halted the rising national trend of allowing primarily local governments to seize personal property for private commercial development. Democrats as well as Republicans would do well to understand that the record long list of state initiatives represents frustration with elected officials at both the state and federal levels.
For their part, the victorious Democrats have a unique opportunity to put the middle class of this country first and foremost in their policies. If they fail to do so, November 4, 2008, will be an ugly date in their destiny.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.
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