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Every athlete knows the importance of the follow-through. Once you hit or release a ball, it will not reach its intended target unless the athlete stays engaged until the projectile is well on its way to the desired destination.

If the 2010 election was about cleaning out the entrenched political elites who have run up a staggering national debt and mortgaged our future, then the 2012 election must be about the “follow-through.”

Gone are the days when voters can afford to wake up a couple of weeks before an election and, once it’s over, hit the snooze button for another two years.

Most elected representatives go to Washington with the best of intentions, but once they arrive, they become intoxicated with the power of their office and do everything possible to keep it. Also, there is the natural tendency to want to be liked by one’s colleagues in Congress.

Yes, there will be at least 70 fresh faces on Capitol Hill, but there will be at least 462 entrenched politicians, most of whom need to be dumped. There is only a handful of lawmakers who have remained true to their principles and put their constituents ahead of the House members or senators with whom they rub elbows day after day.

Voters must stay engaged. The House of Representatives changed hands, and that is a good start. But Republicans were handed a similar mandate in 1994. After fighting the good fight for a couple of years, they lost their way.

Republicans have been given a second chance to balanced the nation’s checkbook and reduce the national debt. We must see that there is no place to hide for politicians of all stripes who do not get it line with that mandate.

When the new Congress takes over in January, Republicans and Democrats will elect their leaders. Don’t underestimate the importance of these internal elections. These leaders exercise tremendous power over the members of their caucuses. Weigh in with your congressman and senators and make sure they elect leaders who are committed to ending pork-barrel spending and cutting the government down to size.

One of the biggest problems for Republicans is Senate leader Mitch McConnell, who – in addition to being as exciting as warmed over meatloaf – is a big spender, an establishment insider. Senate Republicans need a new leader who is more in tune with the majority of the American people, someone like Jim DeMint of South Carolina. DeMint took an active roll in electing more true conservatives to Congress. He would be the perfect choice.

In the next two years, as the new House of Representatives attempts to deliver on its mandate to shrink government, support it. Be prepared to hear horror stories from the president, politicians and special-interest groups whose pet projects are getting cut. Get the facts and weigh in. There will be some pain, but nothing like the pain we will experience as a country if we don’t balance the nation’s books.

Here’s the important thing to remember. The president and senators can whine all they want, but not a dime of our money can be spent unless it is authorized and approved by the House of Representatives. Our Founding Fathers wisely put the House in charge of the nation’s checkbook. They knew that with the power to tax and spend comes the power to destroy.

That is why every spending bill must originate in the House. That is why your member of the House of Representatives represents the least number of people and must stand for re-election every two years so we can hold these people accountable, and we must do just that.

It may seem like a daunting task, but there are some good organizations out there to help you. Plug into them and stay engaged. You can follow the spending issues with the help of the National Taxpayers Union Foundation and Citizens Against Government Waste. Support these organizations. Go to their websites at least once a week and get on their e-mail and mailing lists.

Many of the pro-family organizations also are beginning to follow the spending issues. It’s about time!

Yes, the moral issues are important. However, spending our money on things that are not constitutional is stealing, and stealing also is a moral issue.

Just as your family cannot survive indefinitely on borrowed money, neither can this nation. Sooner or later you have to answer to the creditors, and this nation’s largest creditor is the Chinese government.

That’s a scary thought, and it should be enough to keep you involved. Remember, good government is all about the follow-through.

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