Last night, elections were held in several states across the nation, and by most independent observations, the results served as a warning to liberals. Whether it was Republican victories in Virginia, New Jersey or even in typical liberal bastions like Westchester County, New York, the post-analysis was framed on what does this mean on Capitol Hill, and more importantly, what does this mean for the conservative movement. However, last night did not represent a new day for conservatives. On Monday, the same could have been said: the state of conservatism is strong.
The state of conservatism can be measured through its popularity, its policies and its people. Most observers would say Election Day 2008 was not a good day for conservatives. However, putting election results aside, President Obama campaigned as a centrist. Obama promised to address jobs, the economy, our national security and even hold teachers accountable for our children’s education. Obama promised that most of America would receive a tax cut. He promised to win a “necessary” war in Afghanistan. These are conservative principles.
While many Americans knew he would skew left on health care, the environment and diplomacy, they also took him at his word on his conservative window dressing. Matching reality to rhetoric, President Obama has made Jimmy Carter look conservative, promoting job killing policy after job killing policy. He has taken over nine months and counting to make a basic strategic decision on troop levels in Afghanistan, endangering our troops and our mission. This reality versus rhetoric is reminding the nation that conservatism is not merely a talking point but a first principle.
The Pew Research Center released a poll in May 2009 that was conducted in March and April when President Obama was still hugely popular. The poll showed that the overwhelming trend is toward conservatism, and not merely among Republicans. The number of Independents calling themselves conservative was increasing to 33%, up from 26% in 2005. The number of Democrats calling themselves conservative was up to 8%. In this poll 37% described themselves as politically conservative; almost double the number identifying as liberal (19%). The values of these respondents demonstrated an increasing trend away from big government as the solution and towards local and community based approaches.
These results were in line with a Gallup poll in June that showed Conservatives were the single largest ideological group (40%) and more recently on October 26, when Gallup showed that Conservatives maintain a two to one advantage over liberals (40%-20%). Conservatism wasn’t grounded in any one party or candidate. It was election neutral. In fact it was the only tri-partisan issue or philosophy overwhelming numbers of Americans seemed to agree on. The state of conservative popularity is strong.
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This overwhelming conservative philosophy in America is the reason why failed liberal policies of the past are failing once again in 2009. President Obama promised jobs, but quickly learned that he can’t create 7 million jobs in government alone, although he tried. As of now, President Obama is 7.6 million jobs short of his promise to the American people, and that number is unfortunately growing. Obama’s response has been to support and liberal Cap and Trade bill that would kill millions of jobs. Obama signed a stimulus that not only hasn’t created jobs, but actually slowed down economic activity. Obama supports a health care plan that imposes mandates on employers to help fund it. Employer mandates would put 5.2 million low wage workers at risk of unemployment, and put another 10.2 million at risk of lower wages or reduced benefits.
Conservatives have been offering alternatives throughout. Conservatives support a health care plan that eliminates imaginary barriers from true competition by allowing insurance to compete across state lines, by allowing consumers to take their insurance from job to job, by giving them the same tax breaks the federal government gives big corporations. Conservatives understand that states are the best incubators for this reform. Conservatives have argued for reforming Medicare and other entitlements rather than growing their membership while cutting their benefits. Conservatives have proposed real energy solutions for America that include zero-emissions nuclear energy. Conservatives have proposed job creation through small business incentives and tax cuts. Conservatives have argued for a strong missile defense, rather than a raw deal for our eastern European allies, and a strong national security strategy that supports our troops and America’s leadership around the world. The state of conservative policies is strong.
And Conservatives have been seen and heard in 2009. They went to tea parties in April, town hall meetings in August, and to the U.S. Capitol in September. Pictures of multi-generational families spending the day together protesting big government expansion, increasing debt and deficits, and an apologetic footing by our President on the world stage. Conservatives have been re-energized to participate in the public policy process demanding transparency, dividing up 2,000 page bills among their friends and reading them, and pointing out where government has gone too far. The White House spent September 12 denying hundreds of thousands of conservatives were in their backyard. And last night, the White House promised again that they were paying no attention to the voices of the people. But conservatives are not universally being ignored, especially on Capitol Hill where conservative Republicans, Democrats and Independents are demanding bills be modified to represent the will of the people. The state of conservative people is strong.
Conservatives have a destiny. Conservatives can strengthen our economic and national security. Conservatives can offer real solutions to the nation’s challenges, without robbing Peter to pay Paul. Conservatives can continue to learn about the issues that affect their families, their communities, their businesses, and with this knowledge, they can affect real change. The Heritage Foundation has never been stronger, with over a half million members and growing. We thank you, and we invite those still waiting, to sign up to become a member now. Your conservative destiny starts here.