In Federalist No. 10 James Madison warned that “Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.” This leadership status has been true throughout much of our history. Sadly, it will be true in our future as well since our nation did not elect an enlightened statesman yesterday. Instead, as a nation, we chose a politician committed to expanding a radical agenda that includes abortion, socialism, immorality and national weakness.
Now that I’ve had a few more hours to analyze this dramatic leadership shift, I offer the following five thoughts on the state of our nation in general and the conservative movement in particular.
1. Things are worse than they appear.
Public policy will be incredibly more dangerous for unborn babies, the military, businesses, the institution of marriage, our courts, law-abiding gun owners, the size of the national debt and even our very individual freedoms. The Left will have little restraint in pushing through a liberal agenda.
2. Things are not as bad as they appear.
In the future, there will be no question which Party is to blame and what policies to oppose. There will be unity on the Right which will provide a chance for real conservative leaders to emerge. The Left promised much more than they can ever deliver. Swing voters will become disenchanted and look for reasonable alternatives.
3. Republicans got a reboot and will soon be forgiven for their past transgressions.
Voters punished the Republican Party (which deserved it) but will soon grow to distrust the even more expansive Democratic Party and their near lock on power. In such an unrestrained environment, I predict the Democratic Party’s spending excesses and scandals will dwarf those perpetrated by Republicans over the past eight years. During this time the Republican Party will be forced to rebuild and retool but is likely to come back stronger and (hopefully) smarter as was the case in 1980 with Ronald Reagan and 1994 with the Contract with America.
4. Conservatives need to focus on changing hearts and not merely getting votes.
Conservatives cannot look at just winning elections but must focus on converting hearts and minds. That is harder to do and means more work up front by building trust and convincing people on the merits of conservative principles. However, the rewards are far greater and produce potentially life-long supporters.
5. There is no substitute for the values of morality and basic decency.
We’re at a crossroads as a nation. Moral issues like the right to life, the very definition of marriage, the rule of law and private property ownership are under attack. If enough voters don’t believe in these values then there will be no attempt to protect them in our government of the people. In our nation leaders are only as strong as their base of support. If moral and decent people do not make up a voting majority then our nation’s politics will reflect that shift.
So, take courage, Americans, and enlist for the journey ahead. It’s a wearisome road and one that includes setbacks and defeats along the way. I’m convinced, however, that we will finish the journey if we set our hearts firmly on this important task and take things one step at a time. The result will be worth it, and will be not just one, but a series of enlightened statesmen and women at the helm.