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Sizing Up 2010 By: Paul M. Weyrich
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, November 24, 2008

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 as conservatives - conservatives who actually do something about public schools, energy, the economy and government reform - their gains in elections will probably be meager. Nevertheless, 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.

Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.

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