Over the past weeks since Election Day, numerous articles and an almost uncountable number of commentators ranging from the average Bob (notice not Joe…) to top news reporters have been giving the impression that the Republican Party, and by extension conservatism, is dead and Obama has done the impossible – unified America. But from my viewpoint, this is simply not the case.
Myth #1: The Democratic election cycle win is a mandate from voters.In this election cycle, the Democratic win came at no surprise. For the past half century, when the economy is bad, the in-party loses at the polls. The Democratic Party always polls well with economic issues because of its focus on giving tax breaks and credits to low and middle class income families. The Republican Party places its faith in the trickle down theory of economics and as such places a larger emphasis on tax breaks and credits to business owners both small and large. With most Republican voters either voting against or simply not voting for Congressional candidates, largely because of disagreements with the original bailout plan, the Democratic Party saw gains in the House and Senate.
Myth #2: Obama unified the nation.Again, Obama’s win came at no real surprise. McCain was never the viable candidate that Obama was. Despite the large Electoral College win, the popular vote showed a much closer race – 52% to 46%. Yes, it’s a majority but it’s a bare majority. With 46% of the nation voting for candidates other than Obama, I’d make the argument that despite claims to the contrary, the nation is no more unified now than it was before the election. Generally speaking, 40% of voters will always vote Republican, 40% always Democrat, and the other 20% are actual independents who swing the vote each election. On some things we can all agree, i.e. freedom is a good thing, but I would stay away from claiming an Obama unification.
Myth #3: Conservatism is dead.Simply look to what happened to the Clinton Administration in 1994 for proof of this one. With Clinton’s election to the presidency, conservatism was declared dead until Newt Gringrich pulled off the Republican takeover of Congress in the 1994 midterm elections. This election saw the conservative Republican Party split in its choice for a candidate and the party gave it to a ticket with a little to no chance of winning the election. But don’t forget that the Republican Party is that of Lincoln and Reagan. Conservatism is far from dead and it will make a comeback in the coming election cycles.
President-elect Obama is at the height of an accomplished political career, riding a post-election, anti-Bush, change is coming, hope is here, euphoria. But what happens when Obama steps into the Oval Office and can’t deliver on all his promises. I understand that there are pledges / promises made in campaigns that can’t be delivered, i.e. Bush and Clinton’s no new tax promises. But does the average Lou? When universal health care isn’t passed by the next election cycle, will the Obama euphoria fade? What will happen to Obama supporters when they lose their jobs after he raises taxes on the big companies that employ all those people?
As Americans shake off that nasty hangover from the last 8 years of the Bush Administration, I think voter sentiment will swing against Obama. The Democratic controlled Congress will be hung up by that lack of a 60 seat majority in the Senate, which will result in a limited amount of legislation passed. Gas prices will go back up and large corporations will take their business elsewhere as taxes go up. People will lose jobs. And Obama will have to bear the brute of public opinion. Meanwhile, the Republican governors will be out showcasing conservatism in action as they use their states to proof conservative principles work best.
The coming election cycles may prove a repeat of the ’94 elections. And when they do, we’ll know that despite cries of “bring out your dead” being yelled from the streets, conservatism is not quite dead yet.