Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Conservative Viewpoint
- Is Conservatism Dead?

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

When a reporter was sent to investigate whether the late American humorist Mark Twain had died, Twain responded to a friend that reports of his death were greatly exaggerated. So too are the recent media reports that suggests conservatism, and more specifically the Republican Party, is dead and may no longer be politically relevant or viable.

For the last eight years, Republicans outwardly espoused conservative principles, but inwardly succumbed to the allure of power and greed that permeates our corridors of government. When that happens, as the election results of `06 and `08 accurately reflect, Republicans are no longer ideologically distinguishable from their Democratic brethren. With 17 million more registered Democrats than registered Republicans, a minority party bereft of ideas and principles is doomed to defeat.

Republicans have been written off before but like the mythical Phoenix, have risen from the ashes. It happened in 1994 when Republicans gained control of Congress with their “Contract with America,” promising renewed fiscal restraint and accountability along with other basic reforms. While not every element of this contract was adopted, enough was to offer a ray of hope to voters frustrated with the old “business as usual” approach to governing. Sadly, after the 2000 elections, Congressional fiscal responsibility again became an oxymoron.

The Republican Party experimented with, but did not fully embrace conservatism in 1964, when Barry Goldwater was nominated. He lost to Lyndon Johnson in a landslide. Republicans then engaged in 16 years of soul-searching which included infighting between conservatives and moderates to see who would wrest control.

Ronald Reagan’s election to the presidency in 1980 gave conservatives an articulate and engaging leader whose conservative message of limited government, a strong national defense, lower taxes and respect for life resonated with voters across the great partisan divide. Conservatives had finally arrived, becoming part of the political dialogue.

While Republicans took a whipping from the Democrats on Election Day, it would be unwise to assume that conservatism was also whipped. Across the country many states and localities with tax referendums on their ballots were defeated. So too were initiatives defining marriage as between one man and one woman in the states that chose to have it on the ballots. These are core conservative issues.

The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson recently wrote an op-ed piece, “GOP has big problems,” which they do, but misses the mark. He contended that America is not center-right, but rather is now swinging center-left. The basis of his opinion is that if America is center-right, voters would have been “kinder” to McCain and because McCain had to initially swerve so far to the right, he could never make his way back to the center.

McCain is a moderate who espouses some conservative positions. Conservatives never were comfortable with McCain; however many embraced him simply because he was more conservative than Barack Obama. Fox News exit polls showed McCain getting 80 percent of the conservative vote. As significant as that percentage is, Republicans need at least 90 percent to have any chance of winning a national election. Eighteen percent of voters, some of them conservatives who supported George Bush in `04, voted for Barack Obama.

Robinson said that to their detriment Republicans “continue to espouse a position on abortion rights that most Americans consider dangerously wrong.” While “most” is technically correct the actual numbers between those who profess to be pro-choice and those who are pro-life are extremely close. In August 2008, a Pew Poll found only a “slim” majority of the public favors abortion under any circumstances.

Fewer than half of those 65 and older support abortion and those under 30 are almost evenly split. Among the two largest minority groups in this country, Blacks are equally divided on abortion while a majority of Hispanic voters support pro-life. Seventy-five percent of the total population opposes partial- birth abortion.

Robinson does accurately point to a potentially ominous sign for Republicans. Barack Obama won the Hispanic vote by 67 percent to 31 percent. President George Bush had 40 percent of that vote in `04 with visions of expanding in `08. Hispanics are a natural constituency for conservatives because of their shared patriotic, family and religious values. Conservative opposition to immigration reform could risk further erosion of support from this growing demographic.

The Republican Party lost on November 4, not because conservatism is no longer relevant, but rather that it is now “Democrat-lite.”

Chuck Muth, the former executive director of the American Conservative Union, points to that group’s conservative rating system for legislators to illustrate what happened to Republicans in selected races across the country:

* McCain had a conservative ranking of just 65 (100 being the most conservative) and lost.

* Senator Gordon Smith (R-Oregon) with a 48 ranking also was defeated.

* Rep Chris Shays (R-Conn) who had only a 20 ranking lost his seat as well.

* Conversely, Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev) whose conservative union rating is 96 and who voted against the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, won, in a state that went for Barack Obama by 13 points.

Tony Blankly, editorial page editor of the Washington Times, said “conservatism always has been and always will be a force to reckon with because it most closely approximates the reality of the human condition, based, as it is, on the cumulative judgment and experience of a people.” Most voters across America did not abandon conservative principles on Election Day, but they abandoned those Republicans who had abandoned them.

The winds of change currently swirling around Washington are not simply in anticipation of the impending arrival of the victors, but with the vanquished who would have won had they not forsaken their conservative values eight years ago.

Unfortunately Bob, the trend continues to be that Americans vote for more and more liberal government, mostly because conservatives are such arrogant, sanctimonious and intransigent purists they cannot bother to vote for a compromise. If you dare wander even an iota away from their demand that you agree with them 100%, they stay home and let Barack Obama and his socialist minions run the country, probably for 8 years. A bunch of them even VOTED FOR OBAMA to punish the party for its lack of purity! It is our country that is being punished. Intolerance is the number one criticism of liberals and moderates who hate conservatives, and it is a well known axiom that perception is reality. Conservatives are intolerant.

I am a libertarian-conservative. As you can tell from my campaign web site there is little of the conservative message that I do not endorse. Yet for two minor transgressions I am ridiculed as a RINO and told that I should leave the Republican Party. I am not welcome as a Republican because I am not conservative enough. One comfort I take from that is knowing that Ronald Reagan would not be welcome in today's Republican Party. He totally disapproved of some things, like the position on capital gains taxes, that are now claimed to be Ronald Reagan gospel. It is a lie. He also proclaimed himself a libertarian-conservative, something that his so-called "supporters" now deny.

If expelling anyone who fails a purist litmus test is how you plan to build the party, good luck. What I see is a Party sulking while our nation is turned into a socialist Republic that may soon be as tyrannical as Putin's Russia. Are you sure that it is not too late even if Republicans get their act together?


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home