Keeping the conservative faith 
following a difficult election loss

At the end of the day, you can only do what you can do and if you’ve done everything you can, then there has to be a certain satisfaction from that. While many might be disappointed, there is always the virtue of having fought in a good fight.

Most of you are probably pretty tired of dissections of the campaign discussing what happened and what went wrong, as well as the misplaced smugness of victors and equally useless crestfallen words from those not successful in achieving their ends.

It’s never pleasant to see a sitting president claw his way to re-election, and to imagine that the country will be less divided after this national debate would be Pollyannaism at its worst.

But the sky didn’t fall, it just got a little closer to our heads. And, while there are plenty of bright spots, we won’t belabor them except to say it feels as though we are gazing into the abyss.

As a person interested in politics long before I could vote, I find a lot of significance in this election cycle and a lot of uncertainty. But I can say one thing with a high degree of certitude: What it means, it’s too soon to tell.

Presidencies like that of Barack Obama and their aftermath are not best analyzed in the immediacy of the moment. Because they are transformative, either for the benefit or the detriment of the Republic, they have to be looked at with the lens of history rather than the immediacy of policy.

Will the economy get better? Probably a little bit, Americans are resilient and can only be held down so long. But it’s unlikely we will achieve anything like the growth at the beginning of the millennium for a number of years.

Barring some extreme event in foreign affairs, which is entirely possible, we’ll likely blunder along with a military presence insufficient to settle one problem much less the number that we now face.

Some blame this loss on a grueling primary on the Republican side and that’s probably valid. Much of what the Obama campaign threw at Gov. Mitt Romney was from the same barrel his primary opponents found their rotten apples.

An incumbent has a great advantage of not having a primary, but ultimately I think the problem was in the numbers — not the polls but the numbers that tell the story of tying people and their votes to government.

The real numbers that were problems for Romney were the ones that were also a help: 47 million people on food stamps, more individuals applying for disability than any other time in our history and the number within a number of 75 individuals receiving public assistance for every job created during the last four years.

It’s an old saying in politics if you can get someone to give you money, even a small amount, you have that person because now you’re their candidate. It also works the other way, if you can give someone something, even a little bit and be seen as the person in charge of that, the chances are pretty good you become their candidate.

Is there some pathos in winning an election this way? Of course, but it still works.

What we will probably see in the short term is what happens when the money runs out. Rather than lose power, politicians pull more and more chips across the table. The consequences of robbing Peter to pay Paul get tough as the number of Peters gets smaller and smaller.

To see how it turns out, take a trip to Great Britain and look at the average size home, the number and kind of cars people have and what conveniences and amenities they surround themselves with. What you’ll see is, apart from some celebrities and a few normal wealthy folks, a standard of living most would not find very aspirational in this neck of the woods.

It’s not a time to despair — our forefathers had their Valley Forge and later managed to find their Yorktown — but it is a time to have eyes wide open. Going back to sleep now may mean waking up in a very different place.

Rick Wagner writes more on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.


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