In 1994, Republicans swept into power promising to enact a raft of reforms outlined in their Contract with America. Most of those reforms were stymied in the Senate, vetoed by Bill Clinton or struck down by the Supreme Court.
But Republicans did deliver on one wildly-popular promise: repeal of Jimmy Carter's national 55 mph speed limit. For people who grew up zipping along superhighways designed for higher speeds, the lower speed mandate, in effect for 20 years, was a daily reminder of serfdom. When the limit was repealed, it was a reminder that our votes actually do matter.
Now the clock is ticking down on a similarly-intrusive mandate: the ban on incandescent light bulbs. Like many bad "green" initiatives, replacing Thomas Edison's invention with compact fluorescent bulbs originated in Europe, where folks have gotten used to having Big Government intrude into their private lives. Ironically, Ireland, that bastion of good government, was the first nation to implement the incandescent ban.
Fluorescent bulbs cost 6 to 7 times more than incandescent bulbs, take longer to warm up and are an environmental and safety hazard due to their high mercury content. Moreover, there is no empirical data that proves they save electricity. When the town of Traer, Iowa distributed 18,000 compact fluorescent bulbs to residents, energy usage actually increased by 8 percent.
But perhaps the worst aspect of compact fluorescent bulbs is their weak, sickly glow. Flick a switch on an incandescent bulb and it lights up instantly, with a warm, "I'm here to serve you" brilliance. Turn on a gloomy compact fluorescent and it reminds you that you're merely a servile subject of an over-reaching government.
Light bulbs may be small things, but liberty is a big thing. Perhaps Americans should remind their Congressmen of this by shipping millions of toxic compact fluorescent bulbs to Washington.
If Congressional Republicans do the right thing, Americans will have a daily reminder - every bit as resonant as the repeal of the 55 mph speed limit - that elections really do have consequences.