Is Conservatism Dead?
There was a perfect
storm that arose during the 2008 presidential election to completely
guarantee a Democratic sweep. The conservative pundits say that if
the economy hadn’t soured so quickly, they had a chance. Common
sense tells us otherwise. Quite simply, they failed miserably at
implementing the core conservative values that they purported to
embrace. The American people have responded by asking for change.
Not embracing of liberal values, but rejecting the incompetence of
pseudo-conservatives that promised them one thing and pursued
Exhibit #1, the
Deficit. It has doubled under George Bush and the Republican
congress from 5 trillion to 10 trillion. Fiscal responsibility is a
core belief in conservatism and the major reason the Contract with
America under Newt Gingrich was so popular. They balanced the budget
and paid down the deficit. The Republicans took this success and
said that if they had a Republican president, they could do much
more. They got one and we have seen the result.
Exhibit #2, the Rule
of Law. They have tap danced over it, but this administration has
ignored the core principles that set America apart from third world
nations. We hold prisoners without trial. We torture terrorist
suspects. We eavesdrop on Americans without due process. We started
a war without consensus support from the world. Each of the actions
had a proper legal solution, but the administration couldn’t be
bothered with pursuing it. Who needs due process when you are right?
Pandering to the base. Terry Schiavo? A legislative action passed
for one person? Are you kidding me? Is this the smaller
non-interventionist government that they promised? Rejecting science
for political and religious reasons is something I thought I’d
never see in America. The separation of church and state is a
founding principle for our democracy. This extended into the
evolution and intelligent design controversy. The conservative
movement is based on logic, not the emotion of liberalism. This
contradicts its basic ideals.
Why did the
Republicans lose the election? I can’t actually believe that
rational conservatives are asking this question. Quite simply if you
go to a restaurant and order a prime rib and they bring you a
hamburger, do you continue to patronize their establishment?
Probably not. Even if they protest and tell you that their food is
better than Wendys, the fact is you were lied to. In the case of the
Republicans, they have campaigned on conservative values and had
everything they need to implement them. They failed due to their own
incompetence and narrow self interest.
Where do they go
from here? The path is clear. By being truly conservative the party
can thrive. The United States is ideologically libertarian.
People believe government should provide a safety net, but not
support them. If we have to balance our budgets, the government
should too. Also, Americans are not crazy about governments
legislating their lives, loves or bedroom activities. That is for
theocracies. Finally, we believe in the constitution and understand
that it is the document by which our lives are enriched, not a pesky
set of rules preventing us from achieving our goals.
This is the original
form of conservatism established by Barry Goldwater. Unfortunately,
it has been lost over time by politicians attempting to garner favor
with groups that will help them get elected. It is still spoken in
the intellectual conservative circles, but is quickly hushed by the
current base who is gearing up for Palin in 2012. The Clinton
administration has shown that Democrats are capable of being fiscally
conservative and supporting economic growth. They have already
embraced social liberalism. If the Obama administration shows fiscal
responsibility and reasonable economic recovery, the conservative
movement might well be a historical footnote much like the Whigs.
We could be at a
tipping point in American politics. The citizens of the United
States are descended from great patriots that valued freedom and
common sense over all other concerns. They saw that ideologies
rooted in politics and religion had oppressed man for centuries.
This sense is alive and well in our country and it is why we thrive.
Once politicians realize this and embrace it, their party will
thrive. And the nation will too.