How do they contain themselves? "They" being the Sunday morning pundits who are helping the progressives try and hammer a brittle nail into conservatism's coffin. The truth is that conservatism didn't die on the November 4th, and President-elect Obama's fortunes are not - as we discussed in the last post - a result of the rise of the so-called "moderate" cabal of the American populace. It's a cheap slight of hand parlour trick the media is so good at - creating an issue that didn't exist to begin with and making you think it was there all along. On November 5th, the big question on every news anchor's lips was "What does the Republican party have to do to reach out to moderate voters?" Did you catch that? You might have missed it if you blinked. My question is simple - who decided that the Republican party needs to change their strategy to reach out to moderate voters, or if these so called "moderates" (i.e. liberals) even require reaching out to in the first place? Was there a debate before the debate that even clarified what a "moderate" voter is?
Initiatives to ban gay marriage were on the ballot in 30 states, and these initiatives passed in every one of them. If, as my friend Jonah Goldberg pointed out, white liberals see gay marriage legislation as the single most important civil rights issue of their generation, then it seems that progressive Democrats are in a lot more trouble than the conservative base of the Republican party. The ban on gay marriage even passed in California, which is the Mecca of all things ridiculously liberal.
This is not a trivial matter and conservatives should take heart that the core convictions of Hispanic, African American, and blue collar voters remain steadfastly socially conservative.
I must admit that it would be intellectually dishonest of me to say that many in the conservative movement do not share this opinion - it was even the central theme of the recent Republican Governor's conference. Many prominent Conservatives such as Ross Douthat and Chris Buckley feel that Conservatives should concede that the great welfare state is here to stay, and the movement should work within these parameters to try and shape public policy to reward those -such as in the case of welfare - who are trying to return to work and be less gracious toward those who are using the social safety net as a hammock. Even Rush Limbaugh conceded this almost two decades ago in The Way Things Ought To Be. I say this is conceding defeat, when the opposing army is oblivious to the weakness of their position.
Conservatives, as Goldberg said, should strive to be happy warriors, throwing everything in the conservative arsenal at the Democratic party, and continue not only to be anti-left, but also anti-state.
In the winter of 1777, as Washington's Continental army froze at Valley Forge, soldiers starving and barefooted in the snow, it would have been easy to concede that the end was near. It wasn't until Washington realized that the reason his army was starving in the breadbasket of the nation was because farmers were selling their Summer harvest to the British army stationed in Philadelphia, who payed for food in Sterling pounds, instead of selling their goods to the Army, who were paying the farmers in worthless Continental currency.
Conservatives and the Republican party may be at their own Valley Forge at the moment. We all need to see through the snow and press on undaunted for the glory of the cause.