The Political Pendulum: Where Do Conservatives Go From Here?
By Leonard O Goenaga, LeonardOoh.com
I had a wonderful experience yesterday. Obviously, it occurred before the election results streamed in. This wonderful experience was waking up early morning, besides my wife, to garner together the Goenagas to vote. The interesting experience was in this: My father, a Cuban American (and a proud one at that), had received his U.S. citizenship early this year and was now voting in his first presidential election.
Here I was, standing in line with my mother, father, and wife, participating in a Democratic process within the most beautiful and successful country in the world. A country that opened its arms to my family members: individuals who were being persecuted by Castro for political positions and beliefs.
Here I was, within the warm embrace of family, country and democracy. To deny it the title of blessing would be a shame…
After the months upon months of lively discussions, deepened debates, and prolonged late-night arguments, I filled in my voters sheet besides my father and his booth; two generations proudly participating.
As sorry as I am for the results of the election, there are several lessons to be learned. First I must ask myself, did I expect Obama to win? Sadly, I knew for a sizable amount of time that Obama would claim his victory, although by no means would that prevent me from pursuing and fighting! A man shows his inwards most against the odds.
McCain simply ran a less than average campaign. Obama was impressively organized, and politically creative. The Republican Party was divided, as can be seen in the 53% of Republicans who did not vote for McCain during the primaries. In addition, as impressive as McCain may be, and surely nothing short than an American Hero, he is not highly inspiring. To add to this the damage of the Republican brand, the division of Libertarians and the angst of Conservatives, the Financial Tsunami, and worse of all the ‘Bush Factor’, I cannot say I’m surprised he lost. Surely disappointed, but hardly surprised.
So where do we go from here? First I lay out the only real benefits I can see in the election of President-elect Obama.
1) Regardless of whether one claims Obama is a post-racial candidates (and I consider myself post-racial), the election of a black President will heal some racial wounds. It sets a good global example.
2) I hope, with all my heart that Obama succeeds in this: Healing the black family. The black community has some serious concerns in regards to their family structure (as most Americans, just on a higher level). Although some may wish to credit the corrosion of the black family to a class divide, the real issue is can Obama help that structure? Black families are in trouble. Looking at the number of single mothers, the absence of fathers, the ‘rap and hip-hop culture’, children born out of wedlock, and other factors, I hope that the example of Obama’s family can be a model for the black community.
3) The historic step from slavery, to abolition, to the Presidency of a Black African American President is monumental. This should not be undermined, regardless of political partisanship.
At the moment I can think of no more benefits fitting besides those two (and historic they are). Surely those are things anyone can hope for (no pun intended), regardless of political affiliation.
So, Conservatives, where do we go from here? First, remove this false mentality of this being a severe blow to Conservatism. By no means was this the Conservative candidate (as can be seen in stimulus packages, bail outs, etc). Neither was the ending of the Bush legacy a blow to conservatism (‘Compassionate Conservatism’ hardly echoes true fiscal small government Conservative policies, as can be seen in Bush’s government expansion).
In addition, the electorate does not vote on mere ideological grounds. Surely, the Democrats are extremely polarized to the left (liberal President, liberal VP, liberal Speaker, liberal Committee chairs, etc.) Some argue that we are no longer a center-right country, but a center-left. I would say that is incredibly immature. The voters did not vote on a mandate for leftist political policies. On the contrary, Obama ran as a moderate with center-right bait (tax cuts), and hardly was the populist centrist who campaigned the same Obama who served his state and federal Senate as a far left democrat. Citizens voted not for leftist ideological liberalism, but for the candidate.
We must ask ourselves this important question: With such a polarized government, which Obama will we see govern? This campaigned populist ‘centrist’, or the man before the campaign? If the latter, with the vanished ‘moderate democrats’, and the resulting left-aligned Democrats in power, what can we expect? More of the same democrat taxes, social-spending increases, and other ‘entitlement’ programs? Can we expect more of the same welfare-state policies?
In addition we must ask ourselves this: Given the financial crises and the status of the economy, are such classic left-democratic policies beneficial, let alone possible? Can he provide a 95% tax cut to the middle class (including already 40% who don’t pay taxes), while the baby boomers are creeping in greater numbers into retirement? With the stagnating economy, the retirement of baby boomers collecting social security, a massive national debt, a stunning bailout and stimulus package, trillions of debt, and the burden placed on payroll taxes to cover social security costs, are these left policies Obama pursued in the past possible?
Also, what of national security? I believe it to be an immoral error of the left to make terrorism and the real threat of radical Islamic fundamentalism appear as just a scare tactic from ‘evil president Bush’. With this sad mentality, the error of Americans in forgetting and growing comfortable (shown understandable by their individual concerns), and Obama’s calls to cut weapons development and nationals security spending, where will we be?
If there is a benefit in all this, and I know the waters are murky, it is here: Democrats will have no one to blame but themselves. If they can succeed, by all means God Bless them! However, if these are the same democrats who have pursued the same policies all of their lives (ignoring campaign promises), then we could only arrive to two solutions: Reign in social spending (which will hardly happen), or increase taxes to an amounts similar in Europe, thus increasing stagnation (if not depression), and unemployment (which further leads to an increase in the need of welfare-benefits, which means more taxes to pay for those benefits, which means greater strain on the economy, etc.). I believe we can understand which of those two solutions has been preferred by these types of polarized democrats.
So we conclude in this: surely Republicans have taken a hit, but to call this the end of conservatism is foolhardy. FDR, Johnson and Kennedy welfare-state liberalism is still alive in the leaders of the Democrat Party, so why have the foolish belief that Conservatism has taken its deathbed, when the last president and this candidate can hardly be conservative ideals?
It is common for conservatives to rally to the Reagan battle-cry, but I find it no more fitting than now. With the current problems, and the poor practiced solutions of the democrats, perhaps this is prized soil to plant the next Conservative movement; to win one for the Gipper. The above-mentioned problem’s solutions are best found in conservative principles: small government, strong natural defense, individualism, capitalism, service, and freedom.
The only way to purify gold is to first melt and form it in the furnace. Afterwards, it reaches its opulent value. It took the furnace of Carter to produce the gold of Reagan, so what next?
Allow the democrats their victory, and pray for our new President. It was hard fought and hard won. Rest assured in the knowledge of history, in the performance and faith of principle, and the expected transfer of power from party to party.
Rest assured knowing that the Political Pendulum sways.