November 8, 2012

Let's not panic

So there are conservatives ready to throw in the towel - in some quarters.  In order to win, the rationale goes, they need to promise more free stuff than the Democrats.  Or else, they weren't conservative enough in the election cycle.  Others have argued that it's over for conservatism.  The trending demographics - the browning of America as they've called it (not my words) - means that conservatism is on a slow downward trend.  Oh wait, that one is from liberals.  See how liberalism sneaks in on you?

There's a million prescriptions to cure the problem.  There's a million reasons to panic. Don't.  Let's not panic.  There's no need, and panic rarely ever leads to a good decision and a good outcome.

Before I get too far, let me just note that there's an important point below about John Boehner worth sticking around for.

Here's the thing, in light of a loss, or a win, people tend to over-dramatize the meaning.  the GOP do need to promise more - but not free stuff.  They need to promise results.  Then they need to deliver.  The GOP may not have espouse conservatism properly - they didn't come across as conservatism.  For those who believe that, the United States has reached a tipping point that Canadian conservatives have had to face for years now.  Conservatism has become a tougher sell because liberals have been allowed to control the conversation for so long, they have held so much sway that it cannot all be undone in one step.  It's going to take time.  Enlightenment does not happen to a progressive all at once.  It could take years, or generations.  That does not mean the it is not worth the effort.  It means it requires even more effort, and smarter effort.

It's not over for conservatism, unless conservatives let it be over by folding.  The demographic trends of America - the browning of America - do not spell doom for conservatism. There's the differential in birth rates in rural and urban regions of the country that favor conservatives.  There's the alignment of Hispanic values with conservative values that speak to a need for outreach not an amendment in conservative principles to accommodate a liberal worldview.

Conservatism, in short is not doomed.  It's in need of a re-tooling, but not on policy, on presentation. And on outreach, and consistent, in your ear messaging, and being there and being understood, not misunderstood.

Closing Note:   John Boehner is getting a lot of grief over his comments about raising government revenue, but parse out how he said it if it's bugging you.  He said via "tax reform".  He's not talking about taxing the wealthy, he's talking about closing tax loopholes as part of reforming the tax code.  He's being smart.  He's using language to sound conciliatory while working towards a conservative deliverable - tax reform, which is worthy of an entire post on why it matters.  In any case, Boehner has learned.  He's using language the press will appreciate, especially so soon after an Obama win, in order to drive a conservative agenda.

Obama must now 'lead' towards tax reform, or risk looking like he's the hyper-partisan one.  That opportunity won't last forever, but by sounding chastened, Boehner's ploy could work in the very short term.  Yeah, it sucks, but give him a chance before crucifying him over his approach.  For now, guerrilla politics are about the only thing he could try.  If it doesn't work, he won't be trying it again.   

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