AND OUT OF THE ASHES, THE PHOENIX SHALL RISE
By Chip McLean
November 10, 2008
Much has been written of the “death” of conservatism. Many see Barack Obama’s victory over John McCain as “proof” of some seismic shift in our nation’s ideological landscape. Neither supposition is accurate.
On the first count, if conservatism is “dead”, then it has been dead for some time. By that I mean that people who equate the Republican Party with “conservatism” know little about either. This election was certainly not about “conservatives” versus “liberals” as many would have you believe. This election was about a leftist globalist Democrat running against a big-government globalist Republican.
On the second count, the country is, as it always has been, a nation of center-right citizens and Obama’s victory over a very weak candidate does not alter this fact.
The fact that John McCain somehow managed to secure his party’s nomination says more about the lack of effective candidates in the Republican field this past season than it does about any great enthusiasm for the eventual nominee. McCain’s history as a supporter of amnesty for illegal aliens, his anti-free speech “campaign finance reform” bill, his weak record on defending the second amendment and more certainly didn’t fit the mode of a “conservative”. Nor did he help his possibilities by allowing Obama to repeatedly tie him to a very unpopular Bush administration.
McCain lost the popular vote to Obama by 7%, as many disillusioned conservatives stayed home or voted third party, or in some cases even voted for Obama. Where it actually counts – the electoral vote – McCain took a real shellacking as some states that have been “red states” in years past, such as Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina went for Obama.
It would not even have been that close were it not for the number of conservatives, fearing what an Obama presidency would bring, had not not gone to the polls and once again held their nose to vote for the “lesser of two evils”. Obama’s “change” is basically more of the same – more big government, more government spending and more government regulation and intrusion. The sad thing is that McCain (like George Bush) supports many of the same things, so in effect would have traveled on the road to total socialism at 80 miles an hour, as opposed to Obama’s 100.
History has a funny way of repeating itself. I can easily recall in 1976, after the nation’s disillusionment with Vietnam and Watergate, that another liberal Democrat promised “change”. That “fresh outsider” was named Jimmy Carter. While clamoring for change, the electorate failed to notice either his inexperience, or his naiveté concerning both foreign affairs and economic policy. Under his watch, we got militant Islamic rule in Iran along with increased adventurism from the old Soviet Union. We also got an economic crisis that gave us double-digit inflation, unemployment and interest rates. By 1980, we got Ronald Reagan.
Do we need a “new Reagan”? Of course! Will we find one? Eventually. What really needs to happen, and will, is the reemergence of the conservative movement. Obama’s ideas are certainly socialist in nature, and with both houses of congress being controlled by Democrats, will be able to put a number of his ideas into place. Ultimately the public, after seeing the results of such an agenda will be ready for “change” yet again. The question is; in what way will the conservative movement achieve this rebirth?
What of the Republican Party? Can it return to its conservative roots? In order to do so, it’s going to take a concerted effort by grass roots members to weed out the old guard of elitists/globalists who for the most part run today’s GOP. When Ronald Reagan spoke of a Republican “big tent”, he certainly wasn’t speaking of stretching the tent beyond usefulness, and that is what we have currently with the GOP. The conservative base has never been able to effectively gain control of the GOP and throw out the scalawags, so while “taking back the party” would be welcome, the more cynical side of me believes – based on the GOP’s history – that it would amount to at best a temporary tipping of the scales.
Our nation’s founders weren’t particularly enamored with political parties and were far more concerned in any event with constitutional checks and balances. In the early days of our republic, political parties came and went. For example, the Whig party became extinct after the formation of the Republican party in 1854. What if conservatives decided en masse to band together as a true alternative to the GOP? Perhaps what might ultimately happen would be a coalition of GOP conservatives, the Constitution and Libertarian parties, along with limited government independents. A new conservative party with significant numbers could cause the GOP to go the way of the Whigs. At the very least, it could cause the GOP to rethink its current Democrat Lite philosophy.
Ours is a constant battle, and regardless of how it happens, or what vehicle it may ultimately take, the conservative movement will one day be back, stronger than ever…like the legendary phoenix, out of the ashes to rise once again.
© 2008 Chip McLean - All Rights Reserved