This past week I sat in on a couple of “where
do conservatives go from here” panel discussions. Bear in mind that it was the
Republican brand which was in trouble in 2008, not necessarily the conservative
brand. Much of the public believes in conservative principles, but does not
believe that Republicans can deliver upon those principles.
Conservatives have experienced two wipeouts
comparable to those experienced by Republicans in 2008: in 1964 and 1974. In 1964 Sen. Barry Goldwater,
R-Ariz., was defeated, taking nearly everyone with him. Republicans were down
to 32 Senators and 140 Representatives. The number of state Governors
could be counted on one hand.
Those numbers slowly crept up in the ensuing
years, to the point where Republicans had
a significant number of governors,
some 45 senators and about 175 representatives. In
1974 President Ford pardoned former President Nixon, and the number of Republicans
dropped back to post-Goldwater levels.
There is a difference between then and now.
Now there are 21 Republican Governors. Not all are conservative but most are
solution-oriented. I am absolutely amazed at what Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal
is doing in his state. I didn’t know Alaska’s
Gov. Sarah Palin until Sen. John McCain,
R-Ariz., picked her as his running mate, but I was very impressed with the gas
pipeline she negotiated in her first year as governor. Conservative activist
Grover Norquist was touting her virtues before
anyone had heard of her and I simply took him
at his word regarding her
abilities. Turned out he was correct.
There are many other Republicans, including
the Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina,
and Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah. My longtime friend Gov. Mitch Daniels won
re-election in Indiana by 20 points while presidential
candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.,
carried Indiana on Election Day.
There is one very troublesome aspect of a
conservative comeback in 2010: In both 1964 and 1974 the country’s basic conservative culture was strong enough that the effort to run
candidates against liberal incumbents was very straightforward.
Now, however, our kids are brainwashed
with liberal ideas by the public school system. For example, they are taught about catastrophic
climate change from kindergarten on. The truth
appears to be that we are in a period of global cooling, but public school
children are not taught as much. They worry about the supposedly disappearing
polar bears. They worry about population control. They are told
that people are likely to starve to death if the world’s population does not
decline. The list goes on. Thank God about two thirds of the kids are not
really paying attention. Unless we end the leftist monopoly of education we
will have a problem which we may be utterly incapable of solving.
Will Republicans come back significantly in
2010? It is difficult to say. Unless Republicans become more credible
- conservatives who actually do something about public schools, energy, the economy
and government reform - their gains in elections will probably be
there is the possibility that the leftist majority in Congress will overreach the limits
of their power. In this case Chairman of the American Conservative Union, David Keene, has stated that conservatives
will be there to take advantage of the situation. But when a team has to depend upon its opponents
mistakes and fumbles
in order to score, that team probably will lose.