As I write this I’m distressed to say it looks like there is no path to victory for John McCain. But since I prefer to see the glass as half full, I’m searching for something positive to write about tonight’s election. Is there anything positive to consider right now?
After careful thought I think so. I think there is still reason for conservatives to hope.
This 2008 election cycle has a remarkable number of parallels to 1976 when Democrat Jimmy Carter beat Republican Gerald Ford. As you may recall, Ford became President following the resignation of scandal-plagued President Richard Nixon. With the Republican brand tarnished by Watergate and the messy war in Vietnam fresh on voters’ minds, Carter eked out a 50.1% popular vote and a 297 to 240 electoral win.
As things now stand, Obama appears to be headed for a similarly narrow victory over McCain. As in 1976, the 2008 Republican brand is deeply tarnished by six years of squandered opportunities, wasteful spending, an unpopular Republican President and war that seems to drag on and on. Add in a candidate who had difficulties mobilizing his base and energizing people with a clear vision and you have a recipe for Republican electoral disaster. For Democrats, though, these factors created the perfect storm to sweep into power.
Rewind to 1976. Carter, like Obama was very inexperienced. Little was known about Carter just as little is known about Obama. Contrasting these Democrats were Republicans Ford and McCain who were both tested and experienced leaders. They were, however, dragged down by sweeping calls for change and widespread desire to put a new face and political party in Washington.
That was the setting in 1976 and again in 2008. As history shows us, though, the four years after 1976 were not pretty. Carter was tested with an international crisis by Iran and he failed miserably. Instead of acting decisively, he focused on talks and cut the military. Furthermore, the economy grew worse as inflation, unemployment and interest rates rapidly climbed.
Ironically, in 2008, Iran is again at the forefront of the international agenda and the economy is extremely weak. Like Carter, Obama puts a huge amount of trust in the power of talks to resolve aggressive conflicts with unreasonable people like Islamic extremists and dictators. Honestly, I fear for our future as a nation.
As Joe Biden warned, the next President will be tested with an international crisis within a short period of time. The response of that unavoidable test remains to be seen. Will Obama continue to look and sound like Carter or will he prove my analogy wrong and lead wisely?
That’s the dark side of my analogy. Is there a silver lining you might ask? Is there anything to give conservatives reason to hope? I think so and here’s why.
After four years of failure under Carter, the nation was fed up with international weakness, unemployment, inflation and failed Democratic leadership. In 1980 the nation was ready to elect a new leader who was proud of America and willing to tackle the problems instead of just talk about the symptoms. In short, the nation was ready to embrace conservatism and his name was Ronald Reagan.
So my question tonight is who will be our Ronald Reagan in 2012? Who will step forward and lead this nation out of the mess that liberalism and socialism inevitably bring? Who will be or next Ronald Reagan? Will it be you?