Tuesday’s election results are disturbing. Not because Barack Obama will be President for another four years but because he won at all. In other words, it is not what will happen over the next term, but what has already happened over the last century.
We are losing the war with progressivism.
There will no doubt be two distinct camps within the center-right analysis of the campaign season. The first will be those that cite the effectiveness of Obama’s campaign strategy and the complicity of the media. Of course there is significant evidence to support this; Obama’s bold faced lies during the debates are as hard to ignore as the tragedy in Libya which itself saw a disturbing lack of coverage. These people will be those that emphasize the closeness of the election and talk about the way Romney campaigned or the effects of Sandy, but they will be wrong.
The second camp will be comprised of individuals such as myself who have a little more faith in the American electorate. That is, negative ads and media bias didn’t sway this election, the American people made a conscious decision to embrace the entitlement society. Just as England turned on Churchill after the war, so have the American people turned on the representatives of free market capitalism.
Many a pundit and politician will push the idea that the GOP is simply too far to the right, and needs to do more to appeal to moderates if we hope to win an election. But the problem is not that the GOP is too far right. The fact is that the moderates have just voted very, very liberally. We should not be surprised. After all, the true conservatives among us are ever-ready to denigrate the RINOs among us because we know that the moderates are really no more than liberals with a better sense of political opportunism.
This is the reality of American Pragmatism and we had hoped that the course could be reversed. It is simply too late. The course has been run.
Constitutional Federalism is our national heritage. It is our pride and joy and generations of Americans have celebrated and elevated these ideals of freedom and self-determination.
More than a century ago when the labor movement first introduced progressivism to American politics both parties were victims. While the GOP ousted progressive figureheads from the party, we retained the pragmatic attitudes that had taken root in the culture. We took these attitudes and applied them to the federal government. We thought we could use the tools of the enemy to preserve freedom and prosperity. In the end, Federalism is idealist where Pragmatism is practical and the two cannot coexist. The moderates no longer value limited government. They no longer value personal choice. The power of the federal government is the best and only way to give them what they want. The pragmatic element of our culture reached its logical conclusion on November 6th, 2012.
There will be much talk and debate about where the GOP goes from here.
If the party is to survive, we will have to embrace the moderates, embrace the despotism that Obama has ushered in.
But if the United States is to survive, the GOP cannot succumb to that temptation.
Instead the establishment needs to fully embrace the Tea Party and its desire for a return to basic principles. Yes, such a move will give us more candidates like Akin and Mourdock or any of the failed 2010 Tea Party candidates but if we genuinely believe that the people should be trusted with their own government then we need to begin actually doing that.
Will we win elections with flawed candidates? Probably not.
But at this point we do not need a governmental agenda. We need a cultural agenda.
We don’t need massive campaigns gears towards changing people’s votes. We need a movement concerned with changing people’s thinking, and the only way to do that is to trust the people with their government—for better or worse.
Let me be frank for a moment, the future is not bright. Although we may fear for the security, prosperity, and freedom of our nation, I take comfort in the fact that there is not a doubt in my mind about what to do next.
Like the auto industry, it may be best that we first hit bottom.
With our current leadership that looks likely to happen sooner rather than later. In the meantime, we need to refocus our efforts and our political party to carry the torch for Constitutional Republicanism so that when it comes time to rebuild we can do so with enthusiasm.
- Rieve Stanford is an Afghanistan Veteran and fledgling conservative filmmaker from Illinois.