Looking into the Wilderness
Markos Moulitsas (Daily Kos himself) recently wrote (h/t) that he wants to “break the conservative movement’s backs and crush their spirits.” He wants to “destroy their most beloved leaders” and silence “some of their most cherished voices.” Further, he writes, with the 2008 election, the liberal/progressive/Democratic movement “[has] been blessed with an opportunity to help that process along.” The neo-religious terminology is indicative of how “Kos” and many of his ideological allies view politics: “spirits”, “beloved leaders”, “cherished voices”, “blessed with an opportunity”.
I suppose that’s the difference between the role that politics plays in the daily lives of leftist, partisan ideologues and traditional conservatives like me. My psychological well-being is not tied to whether or not Obama becomes the next President of the United States. I don’t first look to politicians and government for answers. My optimism won’t be undone by the success or failure of a particular politician or political party. And my faith resides in a higher power, not in the workings of fallible men. In short, I don’t invest in the political careers of strangers as a way towards personal fulfillment.
Now I’m not naive and I know that there will be many conservatives emotionally devastated by an Obama presidency and a Democratic super-majority in Congress. I suppose they will be the proof to Moulitsas’ theorem. But most conservatives won’t “turtle” simply because a shiny new, liberal administration is in Washington, D.C. Remember, conservatives generally don’t exactly view a potential McCain presidency as a new high-water mark for conservatism. No, the writing has been on the wall for a few months now, and conservatives are well prepared.
While I’ve chosen to side with the Maverick over the Messiah–my least worst of the two–I fully expect to disagree with whomever is elected President in 2008, if only by differing degrees. As such, I’ve made my serious philosophical differences with Barack Obama known. But my critique is not based on hatred or dislike for a man I don’t know. Instead, it is based on my disagreement with his stated policies and his apparent worldview. Questioning his judgment based on past associations isn’t a personal attack. Doubting the sincerity of a smooth orator with a sparse track record is not hate speech.
Yet, after years of GOP leadership, the American people seem ready to hand the keys of government over to the Democratic party and the cipher at the top of the ticket. It doesn’t look like any minds are going to be changed this far along. So we will soon be witness to the Democrats’ grand plans. They are sure they have all of the answers and are smart enough and good enough to see them through. They don’t have much time to pay attention to the proponents of the past. Progress, after all, has won.
And no doubt they will take great pleasure in denigrating the conservative ideas they purport to have failed. Well, I suppose they will have earned their day in the sun.
But any potential success will depend less on the theory behind the policies implemented than on the practical effect those policies have on the lives of every day Americans. And the role that contingency plays–Will the economy continue to stagnate? Will we be attacked again?–and the concomitant reaction–Will Obama’s policies hurt or help…or matter? Will a huminatarian peace-keeping mission turn into a war?–shouldn’t be overlooked. The American people are not as patient as they used to be and will blame the President and Congress whether deserved or not. Lest we forget, way back in 2004 there was a so-called permanent Republican majority. It lasted all of 2 years. Voters could very well experience buyers’ remorse in 2010 or 2012 as they did in 2006. The times change. Quickly.
As a traditional conservative, I believe that our society and culture was built on and continues to require certain principles that have proven successful over time. Though political winds may shift, bedrock principles aren’t so easily changed. They have allowed us to prosper as individuals, as families, as communities and as a nation. They must be constantly defended and, where appropriate, modified, if slowly (to paraphrase Edmund Burke), to meet the new challenges of the time. And they endure, even if unheeded, no matter the ephemeral presence that occupies the Oval Office. After all, if conservative principles can survive long years in the wilderness of Canada (and Europe, for that matter), they can certainly survive an election cycle or two here in the U.S.A.
So, regardless of who is “running the country,” I’ll still continue to devote most of my energy to–and derive the majority of my happiness from–my family and friends and neighbors. And I’ll continue to espouse and defend and debate over the principles upon which, I believe, offer us all the best chance for success. And, hopefully, I’ll do it all with a smile and a chuckle in-waiting. It’s only politics, after all.