After Ronald Reagan lost a heated primary battle in 1976 to Gerald Ford, he humbly told a group of California delegates that the cause indeed does go on. “It’s just one battle in a long war and it will go on as long as we all live,” Reagan said. He then quoted Sir Andrew Barton, who in his St. Barton’s Ode make have taken a thing or two from Leonidas:
I will lay me down and bleed a while.
Though I am wounded, I am not slain.
I shall rise and fight again.
The next day, Reagan spoke to his campaign staff. “Sure, there’s a disappointment in what happened, but the cause goes on,” he said. “Don’t get cynical. Look at yourselves and what you were willing to do, and recognize that there are millions and millions of Americans out there that want what you want, that want it to be as we do, who want it to be that Shining City on a Hill.”
We need to take a good, long, honest look at why we lost this election, why we lost so badly yesterday and in 2006. In doing so, the Republican Party needs to avoid the temptation to shift blame. Yes, the economy presented a high hurdle. Yes, the winner of this election raised an exponentially larger amount of money and had the unbelievably solid and effective campaign operation to prove it. Yes, this year follows eight years of an unpopular president, in a country fighting an unpopular war. All of these, for sure, were contributing factors in last night’s result, but if the party merely concentrates on these excuses, we are doomed to repeat the lessons we should have learned by now.
The GOP failed to do the “right” thing, in more ways than one, and that failure was not just confined to this election or the last two years. The party and our president have been swept up in a dangerous trend, a slippery slope identified by the total abandonment of conservative principles, and that track led right into the closing months of this election.
The right thing to do would have been to vote against the bailout, rail against the bailout, flood the airwaves with effective advertising about Obama’s radical left stance on infanticide, about his socialism-inspired hope to bankrupt the coal industry, about his Marxist perspective as it relates to Joe the Plumber and small and large businesses everywhere. About his laissez-faire approach to foreign policy and those who wake up each and every day dreaming of our destruction and demise.
Instead, the GOP went moderate. It facilitated a mentality that we must expand the pie, build a bigger tent, seduce those in the middle and even those on the left. This new approach doesn’t work. Moving to the center doesn’t work. In an election, we need that yin and yang that Ronald Reagan spoke about, that vast difference between candidates in every single respect. Opposing a socialist? Don’t vote for the bailout and for the socialization of losses despite the continued privatization of gains. Opposing a man who will tank the economy? Stop talking about cap-and-trade legislation, about reaching across the aisle – and when the democrats in Congress have ruined the housing and credit markets, don’t blame it on corporate greed.
Time and time and time again, America has shown that it is a center-right nation. Yes, moving to the right in terms of fiscal and social conservatism may alienate some in the center and on the center-left and, yes, the media might not like it very much — but those are the people we do not need. We don’t. We need to return to the message that captivates those of us who work hard, who fear God, who believe in the fundamental, unequivocal, unconditional greatness of the United States of America. We need to return to that message, and we need a candidate who can bring it to the people. There are more than 55 million people in America who see things as we do, who feel that America’s strength is in Her people, their values, their work ethic, and the freedoms they provide.
Like it or not, the result of this election provides us with a much-needed opening. As the next four years unfold, we will see a window, we will see a time when Americans are struggling, when retirement doesn’t come as easy, when people don’t have everything they want or cannot keep everything they’ve earned. It’s not going to be easy, and from that difficulty, we can prevail.
We must stay vigilant. As best we can, we MUST pull back the curtain on the new, democrat-controlled government. As best we can, we MUST fight to have our values and our perspectives heard and acted upon. Hold your representatives, democrats and republicans alike, accountable for everything that they do. Get involved, stay involved, and encourage others to do the same.
To me, the most worrisome part of this new, upcoming administration is not its policies, is not the unfettered stranglehold that the democrats now have on the government. The most worrisome part, to me, is that our president-elect could very well have forever changed the electorate during the course of this election. New people are involved. New strategies, borne from technology and the Internet, are available and must be used. We need to make sure that our ground game is not limited to the days and weeks before an election, but spread throughout.
Youth. Vigor. Technology. Sophistication. Strategy.
We must stay involved in our children’s lives, discuss with them what they are learning in Social Studies and History, what their friends are saying, what they’re learning from television. We must keep watch on both the government and the media, apprising our neighbors and co-workers of everything going on in Washington, D.C. and across the world, and explaining to them exactly what these things mean. We must spread the word when it comes to the merits of conservatism.
Freedom depends upon an informed electorate, and it is your duty and mine to ensure that the electorate becomes informed. I will not tire, I will not stop, I will not quit. I will work tirelessly for the renewed prosperity of conservatism in America, I will get my hands dirty and place my name, my success, my reputation on the line, and I expect each and every one of you to do the same.