Welcome the Wilderness

October 29, 2008


We stand at a pivotal moment for all conservatives in America.  In the past, social conservatives, fiscal conservatives and pro-military Republicans banded together and elected Ronald Reagan as a standard-bearer for our vision.  Since then, we have “held our noses” while voting for a string of moderates: President George H.W. Bush (in two elections), Bob Dole and two elections with President George W. Bush.  [It is important to note that many conservatives thought they were electing a kindred spirit in George W. Bush.  Time (and a few trillion dollar programs) has proven this hope to be quite misplaced.

But the true conservatives in America now have a chance to consider who they truly are – and what kind of future they will strive to build.  It is time to reject the pleas of political party leaders who urge us to elect someone who is “acceptable enough” for them.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I am not suggesting that we vote for Obama.  Heaven forbid.  Nor am I suggesting that we not vote for McCain.  That choice must be made in the solitude of the voting booth.  Instead, I want us to be prepared for a future that I fear awaits us.

In fairness, liberal Democrats have been waiting for their chance to shape the future of America.  They have waited since Hubert Humphrey and since George McGovern.  Carter was not a liberal Democrat.  He was an ineffective moderate who was ill-prepared to lead this nation.  And Clinton was definitely not a liberal Democrat.  He was a calculating and politically successful pragmatist.  And for the last eight (8) years, liberal Democrats have had to wait through successive Republican victories for their next chance.  But now, liberals can rejoice as they are on the cusp of achieving a watershed change – albeit with a stealth candidate.

And conservatives should take heart from the example of the long-suffering liberal Democrats.  Since Ronald Reagan left office, the Republican party has been led by moderates, pragmatists and more than a couple of scoundrels.  Some might argue that there have been conservative Republicans in power.  And this is true.  But at the highest levels of government, conservatism has not been practiced for a very long time.

Indeed, it is absurd for anyone to think that George W. Bush was a conservative.  He and his Administration have been responsible for several of the largest government expansions ever.  This includes the following major “accomplishment”: the largest health care program ever (in the form of prescription drug coverage), and the largest governmental takeover of private property ever (in the form of the most recent mortgage bailouts).

Similarly, liberal Democrats have had to “hold their noses” while Clinton systematically dismantled the programs of the Great Society.  They saw welfare programs disassembled in favor of pay-for-work programs.  And liberals have seen affirmative action and social justice programs transformed into watered down versions of the original programs launched in the sixties.

On the cusp of the most dramatic shift in the political landscape since Reagan, conservative Republicans need to reflect upon what is still to be done – not what will be undone in a liberal administration.  We need to be energized by the things they truly believe in.  Indeed, we need to learn not to settle for “good enough.”  We need to strive towards the unassailable goals of limited government and personal responsible.  In my mind, the best palliative for a possible liberal victory is in knowing that we can survive exile under a “liberal tyrant” – just as we survived the tyrannies of George III.  We can survive the tyrannies of a liberal Congress just as we survived the tyrannies of fascism and communism last century.  And we can emerge from such an exile with a renewed fervor for the things that really matter.

In many ways, we must be forced to realize the errors of our ways.  Like a repentant sinner sitting in the pews, the conservative culture in America must “step forward” and admit its sins.  We must ask for forgiveness from our fellow Americans.  Indeed, we have not given our best.  We have been willing to settle for “good enough.”  We have been willing to compromise our very essence.  But that time is over.  Like the repentant sinner, we must first confess – and then we must put our new-found commitment into action.  We must decline the temptations to seek minor advances via compromise.  Instead, we must stick to our principles and forge ahead – despite the short-term costs.

If we don’t win next Tuesday, let’s welcome the crucible of the wilderness.  It is there where God molds prophets and leaders.  We must seek to build a moral argument that was plainly understood by our founders: “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.” (Thomas Paine)



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One Comment on “Welcome the Wilderness”

  1. David Taylor Says:

    The Republican party will only get the message through a defeat, which will happen next week. I hope it is a wake-up call and I hope that the party gains strength from it. Part of my reason for voting Obama is to send this message loud and clear. I will not be a part of the Republican party that has been in power the last 8 years, even if that means turning the power over to Democrats for a time.

    I’ve prayed about this quite a bit, and I cannot claim to have heard from God clearly on this issue. That being said, I have voted for Obama. I feel that McCain is a pandering politician–even MORESO than Barrack. IMHO, McCain gives lip service to the religious right while having few of their convictions.

    My vote aside, I’ve prayed continually for His will to be done. If that means 4 or 8 years of a Democrat in office, then I’m all for it. We do not know His plans, and we should not assume that we do.


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