Reflections on the Election

The election is over, and the American people have spoken; the results are clear. As expected, Obama is the President-Elect by a fairly significant margin. Now that we have completed this election cycle, it is time to reflect. As many of you have done, I have come to several conclusions about the election and its result. We need to consider where we go from here, what needs to change, and how we should approach a government dominated by liberals.

* Obama will soon be President of the United States. This is an office that demands our respect. We may disagree with him on many issues, on his general philosophy, etc, but he will be President. The Left may have mocked, insulted, and even threatened President Bush, but we do not need to stoop to that level. We can, and will, do better than the likes of Code Pink, MoveOn.org, and their ilk.

  • This is a watershed moment in race relations in America. The fact that an African-American has been elected President is a confirmation of the strength of our Constitution. It is a validation for those who struggled through the fight for Civil Rights. I can only imagine how much it means to those black Americans who suffered through the segregation and racial discrimination of the past. This is, generally speaking, why Obama won an amazing 95% of the black vote.

  • Obama won by tacking to the center. He ran a brilliant campaign, one of the best we have ever seen. He presented himself as a centrist, and that’s how Americans expect him to govern. This is confirmation that we are still a center-right country, though we must be wary in the future (see below). One other great thing, besides the triumph of electing a black president, is that we have regained political capital with many people around the world. I do not consider this as essential as many on the left would believe, but it is still important. This is a global era, and the more good will we get the better. We will always need the support of our allies, and they will always need us. My hope is that Obama doesn’t waste what he has gained by embracing protectionist policies and abandoning long-standing allies.

  • Despite the hand wringing over this and that, the polls were mostly right. The vote was much closer than anticipated in many states, as McCain gained momentum in the last week. But every poll showed him behind, especially in the swing states. It is important to remember that, although there was a left-leaning bias in the polls, it was not large enough to reverse the obvious trends. This played out exactly as expected, so remember it in the future. The media is a problem, and we will need to fight to keep it from getting worse.

Now we must turn inward. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done.

  • This was a difficult election for Republicans. President Bush and the Republican brand were impossible to overcome. Yes, the McCain campaign was inept at time, but it was also brilliant at times. McCain did his best, and I was proud to have him as our nominee. Some people are going to criticize the selection of Sarah Palin, but I’m telling you, it would not matter who was chosen, we would not have done better. The moment the financial crisis hit, it was over. Bush was (unfairly) blamed for the crisis, and McCain by association. No one could have overcome that. We could not win.

  • President Obama will have the opportunity to tackle several major problems affecting our country. These are problems that cannot wait four years. Republicans are going to have to work with Democrats and with Obama to help fix these problems. That means compromise. When you are the minority party, you cannot push through an ideologically pure agenda. Republicans in Congress have to work day and night to reach acceptable solutions with Democrats. We will be better served if Congress passes bills with votes of 85-15 rather than 56-44. The Democrats are not a monolithic bloc. There are those among them who are conservative in some areas, there we can find common ground. We can only hope that Obama follows through on this rhetoric of bipartisanship and unity because we will lose the partisan battle. There will be times when Obama will choose to pursue a centrist solution against the will of his own party. Those will be the times that we can work together to solve some of our problems.

  • It is time to look to 2010. There are plenty of races to fight. We need to go on the offensive. If we hold back and end up losing a couple of seats, we’ll really be in trouble. We must take back at least some seats, especially in the House. The Democrat lead is so large that if we don’t chip away soon, we won’t be able to retake leadership for several cycles. The House is also a source of experience for younger members of our party. The more members in the House we have, the more viable candidates we have for higher office.

  • That being said, there will be plenty of talk of 2012. This is to be expected, we have a vacuum of leadership that needs to be filled. Palin, Jindal, Romney, Huckabee, Sanford, etc. will get their names thrown around. Hopefully we will continue to see them in the news as they continue to gain experience in the future. The old guard is fading away, but I have confidence that a new generation of conservative leaders will rise to the occasion.

  • Conservatives need to confront the problems facing our nation with bold, conservative ideas. When the economy is in trouble, we need to be able to articulate an alternative solution to the liberals’ spend, spend, spend. This is a major problem for Republicans. The Republicans complained about Democratic solutions yet sat on their hands while Rome burned. You cannot complain about the bailout without offering an alternative. You cannot complain about SCHIP without offering an alternative. Ignoring the problem does not make it go away. At the same time, conservatives must govern conservatively. From 2000-2008, Republicans governed ineptly and have been rebuked accordingly. If a “conservative” votes to increase farm subsidies and other pork, he cannot seriously argue that he will control spending in Washington. He loses his legitimacy and the trust of the American people. Americans want to control spending, but they already gave Republicans a 6 year mandate to do it and they failed. Many didn’t vote for Democrats because they were more liberal, they voted for them because they didn’t trust Republicans to govern as conservatives. “If Republicans can’t control our debt, maybe the Democrats can.” In addition, we need to stamp out any corruption in the party. The likes of Ted Stevens, Bob Ney, and Larry Craig have tarnished the Republican image and do not deserve our sympathy. “Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye” [Matthew 7:5]

  • As a part of this movement, we need to be a more inclusive party. Now I don’t mean that we should become more moderate or less embracing of conservatism. However, we do need to accept those with disagreements with the party line. Very few individuals agree with everything “conservative.” There are also many issues where the conservative position is not really that clear. A Republican should be able to disagree with the party here and there and not be considered a liberal or traitor as Lieberman was with the Democrats.

  • We have a major demographic problem. The youth vote is heavily liberal and becoming more so. The Hispanic vote is becoming more liberal. The African-American vote is becoming more liberal. The Asian-American vote is becoming more liberal. The Northeast and West Coast are 100% liberal. There are three Republicans north of Pennsylvania. The Midwest is trending blue. The South is trending blue. The Southwest is trending blue. A large part of this is a result of disgust with President Bush, but part of it isn’t. We can reverse these trends without abandoning our principles, but we need to speak to the issues most important to these groups. Yes, there are many socially conservative Hispanics and African-Americans, but that’s not enough. They, as much as anyone else, care about the economy, urban poverty, education, healthcare, etc. Illegal immigration, the war on drugs, etc. are racial issues. Even though they shouldn’t, they disproportionally affect specific populations, and we have to remember that. If we let this trend continue we will be looking at a center-left, or even left-leaning, country very soon.

  • We also have to take a look at our rhetoric. Many of you may disagree, but it is an issue that a great number of people have with Republicans. Ignoring it will not fix it. When we say “illegal immigration is taking away jobs from hardworking Americans,” to many it sounds like “Hispanic immigrants are taking away jobs from white Americans.” They may not be the same thing, but to many Hispanics, they might as well be. When we say “our nation was founded on Christian beliefs” it sounds like “Muslims, Hindus, Jews, agnostics, etc. do not have a role to play in this country.” When we say “real America is small towns made up of hardworking Americans,” it sounds like we are denigrating urban America and those who live there (many of whom are minorities), which, in reality, is most of us. The left does this to a great extent, and it hurts them in rural areas. We don’t need to make the same mistake. Poor rhetoric plays directly into the media’s hands, something we cannot afford.

Now let’s all take a step back, calm down, and relax. Times are tough, but it is not Armageddon. America has survived more than a liberal president in the past, and we will again. Obama wants to solve what is ailing America, and in that at least, we can find common ground.