By David Beilstein
MOST Americans have heard the old adage elections have consequences. This old chestnut, usually used by the winner to press his advantage, helps articulate the victor has a mandate. But there is also a mandate within the losing political party of sorts. Political parties that lose – decisively in the case of Republicans on Nov. 6 – have a mandate to reform, trim excess fat, and amputate the gangrene that has infected the party polity.
A civil war lingers within the Republican Party. Out of which, electoral success can be spun, or more defeats down the road at the hands of a resurgent Democratic Party will take place. Republican establishment types desire a more moderate party; conservatives want a more conservative party.
Both sides appeared to blame each other for Tuesday’s loss at the hands of the Obama campaign’s juggernaut.
But perhaps there is an alternative position. First, a moderate Republican Party will increasingly grow government, an untenable position especially now; one that will aid the financial collapse of our nation and fail to be a stark alternative to the statist ruling class of DNC stewardship. Likewise, what calls itself conservative within the GOP base, is all too often quite a distance away from the confines of the U.S. Constitution itself – alas, the conservative wing of the GOP is not comprehensively conservative anymore.
This explains the base of the GOP not showing up Tuesday, Nov. 6. Some have headed to greener pastures of classical liberalism (Ron Paul & Gary Johnson) and some did not even cast a ballot. The result, however, was equally bad. Barack Obama was reelected. The young president was reelected because of Republican atrophy more than Obama magic.
Over at Pat Buchanan’s digs, The American Conservative, Jack Hunter makes some fine music,
Demagoguery, partisanship, and conspiracy theories do not represent ideas. They represent a lack of them. Throw in some clumsy language about “legitimate rape” and couple it with Romney’s Dubya impression on foreign policy, and Americans saw a “conservatism” they didn’t want. Who can blame them?
But they don’t necessarily want Barack Obama’s America either. Voters weren’t in love with George Bush when they rejected John Kerry. They just liked Kerry less. On paper, Democrats should have lost, if sour economies and high unemployment still have anything to do with how people vote. That Romney couldn’t beat Obama says far more about the Republican Party than it says about the Democrats.
The formula for victory is not being more Democrat-lite or neocon-heavy. It also does not lie in embracing socialism or abandoning social issues. The GOP can become a national party again by offering new ideas rooted in old ones.
Some of those robust ideas rooted in a liberalism of classical heft can be found on this blog. Suffice to say, a broad enforcement of the U.S. Constitution’s 10th Amendment will gather sweeping support from conservative leaning voters (and other voters unable to vote Republican in the past) tired of endless, unsuccessful wars, and economic capitulation at the hands of the GOP brass.
In regards to social issues, Mr Hunter continues,
But how should a constitutional conservative approach social issues? In this election, voters approved gay marriage in four states. Two states voted to make recreational marijuana legal. A true constitutionalist recognises that the regulation of marriage and drugs is not found in the Constitution; therefore the 10th Amendment renders these the jurisdiction of the individual states. Conservatives have made such cases against federal healthcare and gun regulation for some time. They should now be consistent and comprehensive in their constitutional arguments — even when they might disagree with the outcomes.
I have been saying this for a few years. When conservatives support authoritarian policies (giving more intrusive power to the Federal beast) outside the parameters established by the U.S. Constitution our ideological position becomes contradictory to far too many Americans. Too many Americans do not even approach the Republican Party as protecting individual sovereignty or limited government because of the Grand Old Party’s (and its ‘conservative’ bases) complete inability to comprehensively follow the U.S. Constitution wherever it leads.
The Constitution will lead to freedoms unhealthy to society in some sense. That’s the cost of a free society.
Conservatives either believe in a free society or they do not. The inability to protect the parameters of a free society consistently is one of many another reasons the electorate has turned away from the Republican Party as ‘conservator’ of Constitutional government, and of Enlightenment ideas defining liberalism.
Bottom line, the 10th Amendment if followed through the way the Framers intended will create state sovereignty on issues – some of which, cultural/social conservatives will not agree with. But that is what it means to call oneself a conservative.
Mr Hunter adds,
While polls show that Americans are more accepting of same-sex marriage and relaxed drug laws than ever before, the Washington Post reported in May that a Gallup poll showed: “The 41 percent of Americans who now identify themselves as ‘pro-choice’ is down from 47 percent last July… Fifty percent now call themselves ‘pro-life…” The Post continued:
The polling shows that rather than embracing abortion with increasing gusto, Americans—especially young Americans—are rejecting it with increasing disgust, and not just for religious reasons.
Roe v. Wade has long been the heart of the pro-life movement, which if overturned would allow the states to decide the abortion issue. States are now deciding on the issue of gay marriage and drugs in ways that wouldn’t have been politically possible a decade ago. As public attitudes shift on abortion, so may the politics – and constitutional conservatives could stand ready to make the most effective pro-life arguments in the history of the movement.
In other words the pro-life stance did not defeat Republicans. This, again, is why the punditry class ought to be listened to with caution. Or not at all. And it also illustrates that Republicans are losing a war of communication, not on the issues themselves.
Abortion is less popular with Americans – especially the young. Pundits spent a lot of time saying the opposite following the Republican defeat on Nov. 6. But if you dig deeper, it actually makes sense. President Obama trounced Mitt Romney in the youth demographic, supposedly because of social issues. Republican candidate Ron Paul (R-TX) against the entire lineup of Republican primary candidates won the same demographic.
Some of representative Ron Paul’s biggest support came from the 18-29 age group. Paul is radically pro-life and is against gay marriage. In terms of gay marriage, he does not believe (in reference to the 10th Amendment) marriage is any of the state’s business.
Finally, Mr Hunter concludes,
If youth attitudes could shift the abortion debate, the same could be true concerning our greatest financial drain: entitlements. Unlike their parents, younger Americans do the math and do not expect Social Security and Medicare to survive. The same could be true concerning youth attitudes toward the second greatest drain on resources: A counterproductive and costly foreign policy. Unlike their parents, young people can comprehend an America that does not play policeman or provider to the world while the next generation foots the bill.
A platform of constitutionally limited government, individual freedom, and personal responsibility could provide fresh answers to the old questions that now impede the GOP’s electoral success. This is not a departure from conservatism but a return to it.
Or the Republican Party can keep recycling Bush-isms – promising more government, war, and less freedom. Constitutional conservatism is the way forward. Conservatism defined, as simply hating Democrats will remain a ticket to nowhere.
I believe Islamic-Fascism to be a grave threat to America. But I also believe it can be fought with paramilitary and special operations soldiers under the cover of darkness – fought in such a way America is not rebuilding countries against its self-interest. Destruction of violent and sworn enemies is quite different than creating heaven on earth; the reshaping of societies hostile to democratic Enlightenment principals.
More importantly, Mr Hunter’s last paragraph rings of common-sense conservative ideas going forward. And it also, perhaps, suggests the damage done when so-called conservative leadership fails to govern competently on major issues affecting public trust. Republicans have to become the party that creates broad prosperity – protects individual sovereignty against statist usurpation – and animates a strong military in a more stable global atmosphere.