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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Post-Election GOP

The 2008 election cycle has come to a close and the Republican Party has been crushed in its wake. Yes, there were some victories on independent pieces of legislation where Americans indicated that, at their core, they are still right-leaning. But with very few republican representatives in the senate or house to champion and defend that legislation, and a dangerously liberal president heading into the White House, conservative values will be all but lost in the coming years.

What does the GOP need to do to regain power? This question is plastered on nearly every conservative blog, discussed on conservative talk radio, and flaunted by liberal television as a means to further discredit republicans and the Bush administration. It’s virtually the only issue, besides the purported “finger pointing” at Sarah Palin, that the media want to discuss.

So, let’s discuss it.

I’ve heard some republicans claim that the party needs to get back to its roots. Some have said that with the appointment of Bush as the presidential nominee, the party went too far to the right. I’ve heard suggestions that there was “too much” cooperation with the democrats, which lead to a dilution of Republican values. Others have simply shifted the blame to the Bush administration, and there are also the typical attempts to convince people that the democrats are responsible for all of our problems.

All of these excuses fail to get to the heart of the problem, and the fact that Republicans are citing these as the reasons for their graceless fall from power is more of an indication of the problem itself than anything else.

The problem is that Americans aren’t American anymore. That’s not to say, of course, that only republicans are American, or that only conservative values are American values. No, the point is that there has been a paradigm shift in American perspective. This shift has been taking place since World War I, when American soldiers came back to the puritan-founded US of A with European flights of fancy. This isn’t to suggest that the growing relationship between European countries and America (or America and the rest of the world), hasn’t brought about a plethora of advancements, because it has.

No, what we’re talking about here is a shift of foundation. Because America was founded at a time where most of the western world had already established itself, America flourished because it had the benefit of hindsight. The monarchies and oligarchies of Europe were oppressive to the natural rights of the people, and so we established the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to serve as the supreme laws of the land, to supersede any type of leadership – the ultimate check and balance, if you will.

Like most political systems, our constitutional republic looked perfect on paper. Ours was a system where individual rights were enumerated, and the people had a voice through elected representatives.

You know this. I know this. Anyone who knows anything about the American system of government knows this.

What most people overlook, however, is that our laws and system of government were not just meant to protect the rights of the individual. They were also established, such as they were, to protect our government from the individuals.

We often hear people say, “Our founding fathers never intended for…” Such avowals simply go in one ear and out there other of most people in this day and age. THAT is the reason republicans have fallen from grace. The entire party seems to fail to grasp what it is that motivates Americans.

The instant America became a secular, hedonistic country where the benefits of the individual began to supersede his/her rights, is the instant Americans stopped caring about why our government was established in the way that it was and the instant America lost its way.

JFK once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you- ask what you can do for your country.” Apparently, Americans interpreted that to mean, “Ask what you can do TO your country, to make your country do FOR you.”

The dream of America, to provide all of its citizens equal rights and opportunity, has been perverted into a benefits free for all, where special interests are ends, and government is merely the means. Sadly, Americans will not likely denounce such egocentricity until they are given a reason to do so. A popular school of philosophy suggests that humans are incapable of acting independent of their personal interests. What this means for America is that her citizens won’t feel compelled to return to their foundational roots until they think that doing so will benefit them directly.

So I return to my premise: What does the GOP need to do to regain power? Simply put, they need to remind Americans why it is that our government is one of laws and rights, and not emotion and benefits. This is the sole purpose and entire extent of government’s role in America.

You hear democrats say, “I don’t understand why the working class consistently votes against their interests by supporting republicans.” There’s a very sinister suggestion there in the undertones of this statement: that Americans should vote according to their personal interests. The logical conclusion of this is that votes can be bought if the masses are temporarily appeased (tax cuts for 95% of Americans anyone?). Previously, Americans understood that the federal government was supposed to play a minimal roll in our lives, and so voting for the candidates who had the best interest of the entire country in mind came hand in hand because the candidates, at that point in time, lacked the power to directly benefit individuals. With the expanding roll and influence of our federal government has come an expanding capacity for federal candidates to pander to the interests of the masses – a dangerous trend from which “our founding fathers” tried to protect us.

So what we have now is a situation in which the GOP can’t and won’t regain prominence until America realizes it needs it – just as America did in the face of the looming threat from the Middle East when George Bush was elected. Regrettably, this is almost always reactionary in that America waits until it’s sick before it calls for the doctor; whereas, if it would just see the doctor regularly, he would play a diminished role over time.

So, in short, if the GOP wants the white house in 2012, or a bigger piece of the congressional pie in 2010, one of two things is going to have to happen: 1) Major disaster resulting from democratic policies 2) Republicans convince Americans to go against their compulsory human nature. As frightening as it seems, the first option is almost inevitable and the second is almost impossible.

All of the other facets of Obama’s victory are relevant (the media bias, the hatred for the war on terror, the failure of Republicans to stick to their fundamental fiscal principles, etc.) but they are the symptoms, not the disease. The diseases are egocentricity and shortsightedness.

Americans lack the ability to look forward or backward. They’re egocentric first and reactionary second. This isn’t exclusive to America – it’s a human affliction.

But fear not my conservative comrades! We all know that the liberal agenda is a flawed one, doomed to failure from the start. So it’s only a matter of time until the reactionary nature of Americans kicks in, and they realize that it is in their immediate interest to restore republicans to the congress and White House. Let’s just cross our fingers and hope that the damage done by Reid, Pelosi and Obama to this great country is not irreversible. Until they foul up – and they will foul up- the GOP needs to set a shining example of fiscal responsibility, social conservativism, and international wisdom.

There’s no substantial “winning” when a liberal gets elected. Some campaign promises are delivered to pay off those who put them in office, but ultimately everyone will suffer. The best conservatives can do is keep a watchful eye on the liberal miscreants in Washington, and make every attempt to keep the American public informed as to why the efforts of the democratic politicians are counterproductive to the interests of Americans. Eventually the scales will shift, and the democrats will not sit long in their positions of power.

Let us just hope this realization comes sooner rather than later, and that it’s bred of logic rather than reactionary self-interest. That’s a lot to ask for, but perhaps the GOP can help expedite the process before it’s too late… for the sake of the country as well as the party.
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