Now that the results are in for the 2008 election, the analysis and evaluation will continue for some time. Although from a media stand point, most of the post analysis evaluation is over and the speculation of how the Democrats especially the President Elect will govern dominate the pundits, those within both major political parties are looking at the data and trying to find answers as to how this election developed and what factors brought the final results, especially the GOP.
The Democrats are already looking at this election as a referendum on conservatism and the failure of it as an ideology. As such they also believe that they have a mandate for a liberal agenda and in many respects extreme liberalism which will drive their agenda for most likely at least the first two years of the Obama administration.
There are many within the Republican party who also believe that this election was a failure of conservatism and as such believe the GOP should re-invent itself and “adjust,” conservative ideals to a changing society. Fred Barnes the Executive Editor of the Weekly Standard and a Fox News contributor has already expressed this thought as the key to revitalizing the Republican party.
This adjusting conservative ideas is in actuality the very reason that the Republican party finds itself in a very small minority in Washington and the loser in the paste two elections. The pundits and the leadership of the GOP have yet to realize that it is NOT conservatism that has failed in the last two elections but Republicanism. The GOP left conservative ideas and values behind several years ago and the electorate has as a result left the GOP behind in elections.
This is evidenced by the results of liberal ballot initiatives that fell to defeat throughout the Nation in the 2008 election. Each were initiatives that took a liberal stance on moral issues such as abortion, gay marriage and even in San Fransisco legalizing prostitution. All of these initiatives failed even in very liberal California.
Also polling shows time and again conservative ideas that deal with issues that do not have moral implications such as less taxation, strong defense, limited government and strict adherence to the original intent of the Constitution continue to poll higher throughout the country by a two to one margin.
While I still believe that President Bush believes in much of the conservative ideology, as President he has failed to follow that ideology in the way he has governed. The GOP leadership in the House and Senate has also failed to follow the conservative ideology, especially when in the majority and even while in the minority failed to present conservative ideas as the alternative to the liberal agenda of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid choosing to be a minority who opposed because of politics and not because of principle.
This is a key as to why Republicans have been labeled as partisans and obstructionists because as they opposed the Democrats they NEVER presented alternative ideas following conservative values that the country could embrace and as such have found themselves in a limbo state wondering what to do next. Republicans including John McCain ran AGAINST Democrats and not FOR an alternative idea. Much of McCain’s agenda sounded very similar to Obama’s with only slight differences, especially in facing the economic troubles which drove this election.
In fact it was only after Barack Obama met Joe the Plumber and spoke of spreading the wealth that Republicans finally found an issue that the electorate could cling to and that was less taxation. Yet even this was not enough to give the GOP a win because the electorate still did not see leadership in the avenue of ideas nor any real alternatives to what a very charismatic and well articulated candidate for the Democrats presented.
This has been the failing of the GOP for many years. Those in leadership positions including the Presidency failed to follw the clear conservative ideas and principles that brought Republicans to the majority in the first place. In fact the only time conservatism was talked about by the GOP was when they would run for office. The old adage,” actions speak louder than words,” has never applied more that it does to Republicans. Many GOP candidates talked a good conservative game but when in Washington NEVER followed the rhetoric with action that matched the rhetoric and the public no longer believed them.
When Democrats spend like drunken sailors, the electorate while not liking it accepts it with little if any anger because that is what Democrats do and as such voters expect it of Democrats. When Republicans do the same, it angers the electorate because voters do not expect Republicans to spend and expand government. When both parties act alike voters elect the party that at least admits they are spenders and not the party that tries to convince the electorate that they believe in less spending and smaller government when their actions have proven otherwise.
The Republican party has regressed to the party of the 1960’s. The party of what was known as the Country Club Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller who were what we would call now RINO Republicans because as conservatives we understand that they do not follow conservative ideology. In 1965 the House was made up of 295 Democrats and 140 Republicans with a Senate consisting of 66 Democrats and 34 Republicans.
While the numbers from this election have smaller majorities for Democrats the GOP finds itself in a similar situation with voters as the GOP of the sixties, Country Club Republicans who talk one game and govern by another. Out of touch with the core of the Republican party and not understanding why the electorate does not support them.
The rank and file of the GOP remains conservative but the leadership both in Washington and in the party have abandoned conservatism. This is why Sarah Palin became and still remains so popular around the country. People called her, “refreshing,” which she was, but to conservatives she gave a sign that maybe the GOP had seen the light and conservative ideas and values would prevail. She should not have been seen as just refreshing but as a candidate who expressed what the party beleived.
The came the bailout package, McCain’s ideas to expand it and attacks even within the GOP against Palin and conservatives regardless of party affiliation realized that Republicans were just talking a good game and not playing the game that they talked. If Republicans ever want to lead again then they must rediscover what Ronald Reagan proved to be the ideology of success…… conservatism.
Reagan defeated the Country Club crowd in the GOP by connecting with the conservative values and ideas that resonated around the country, faith, strong national defense, limited government, less spending, less taxes. Sound principles of freedom expressed through personal responsibility and not government intervention. He understood that government was not the solution but the problem. He knew that the Bill of Rights were not just words on paper but fundamental principles that allowed liberty and achievement.
He understood that Americans love this country and that expressing that love was good and not something to be ashamed of or to avoid. Being open and honest about our patriotism and waving the flag not only felt good but was an expression of pride in who we are as Americans and what we stand for as a Nation.
In two years this country will face another election. If, Democrats fail, and I believe they will, the country will once again look for leadership that will take this country down the path of success and prosperity. A path of honor and pride, of strength and values that match the beliefs and principles of the people and our Constitution.
When there is a lack of leadership those looking for leaders will grasp on to anyone who looks like a leader regardless of what that leader expresses as ideology or ideas. This election has proven that more than any other. But when ideas that meet the beliefs of Americans shine, the people will follow those beliefs and not JUST the charisma of a politician.
This belief comes from the grassroots. Reagan new this and that is why he connected so well with Americans. If the GOP has any hope in 2010 and 2012 then the time is now to being finding conservative candidates to replace Republicans who have abandoned the conservative principles that resonate with Americans.
Replacing the Country Club with conservatives who not only talk a conservative game but who lead by conservative principles. Sarah Palin is on of those. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is another. Michael Steele yet another. But conservative leadership cannot be only at the top of the GOP ticket but in the City and County Councils, State Legislatures, Governors and of course those we send to Washington.
The time is now to begin the next Reagan Revolution. We will never find another Reagan but his ideals and his beliefs are still found throughout and in the majority of Americans and on that alone we can build. The time is now to begin returning conservative values and leadership from the grassroots up. The time IS NOW !