10.01.2008 0

A Time for Choosing

  • On: 10/10/2008 14:35:01
  • In: Federalism
  • “If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth. And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except to sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.

    “This is the issue of this election. Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.” – Ronald Reagan, “A Time for Choosing,” 1964 speech in favor of Barry Goldwater.

    The conservative movement—along with all that it is and hopes to be—faces a time for choosing in 2008.

    If it follows the Republican Party down the road it has trod in recent years, it will no longer be a movement at all, but rather a tragic footnote to history reminding future generations that the road to political oblivion is paved with broken promises.

    That’s the road the Republican Party started on as far back as 1994, after sweeping to a rarified congressional victory with its “Contract With America.” Fresh from that heady triumph, it drank deeply from the squalid waters of the Potomac, and quickly forgot the vows it had taken, along with those to whom it had pledged its troth.

    And Washington’s conservative leadership, enamored with those it had escorted to the altar, failed to notice an unfolding nightmare of broken promises and outright betrayal. For the next 12 harrowing years, the do-nothing Republican majority closed its ears to its bewildered supporters and opened its arms to the liberal agenda—as all the while, the conservative leadership did little more than go along to get along.

    Then, in November of 2006, the Republican/conservative house of cards collapsed. And now, with one of the most pivotal elections in recent history but a matter of months away, the conservative leadership faces a time for choosing it can neither deny or avoid.

    If it chooses to follow the presumptive Republican nominee down the road to compromise and capitulation—even if he somehow happens to win—footnote status awaits the once proud and promising conservative movement.

    If, on the other hand, it takes the “road less travelled” and reaffirms the principles it all but abandoned in pursuit of Republican Party approval, that could, indeed, in the words of the poet, “make all the difference.” And that difference could change the course of history. It is not without precedent.

    Conservative chronicler and press secretary to Barry Goldwater in 1964, once said of that ill-starred campaign, “We knew we were going to lose the battle, but we also knew that we were eventually going to win the war.” And he was right. That year, 27 million Americans voted for Mr. Goldwater as he stood on principle. And, he planted the seeds of the Reagan Revolution some 16 years later.

    In 2008, now more than ever, that is what is needed. But the conservative movement, and the GOP, appears to be in a confused state about how to react to the McCain nomination and the horrific Republican prospects in the Senate and House. That’s why one sees House Minority Leader John Boehner looking to “work with the McCain campaign and our folks so that our agendas are identical, our themes are the same.”

    As ALG News reported in “Republicans Will Get the Change They Deserve,” if they choose to follow McCain on his agenda—with its ruinous themes of cap-and-trade, open borders, and such—they have to be prepared for the likely consequences:

    1. The conservative base of the GOP will fail to become energized, and the fight to take back Congress, instead of taking ten years, could take decades more.
    2. Conservatives will continue on a path of accommodation that will produce predictable policy debacles—look at how accommodation on the issue of “alternative energy” produced the ethanol mandate/subsidy debacle that now threatens to starve the Third World. 
    3. Pelosi & Co. will continue to gobble up “safe” GOP seats in red states, and, as a result… 
    4. Big Government will get bigger.

    Instead, the bleeding needs to stop. Now. Conservatives “leaders” in Washington need to draw the same line in the sand their “followers” drew in November 2006. They need to say to the GOP: “This is what we stand for. We will not walk past this line. And we will not allow you too, either.”

    Limited government and free market principles are the cornerstone of conservatism in America. To disregard their potency as good policy is to in fact reject the people who share those beliefs.

    The GOP is at its best, and does its best politically, when it has a comprehensive, cohesive, conservative agenda that unites the base of its party and gives candidates the tools they need to make the case to their constituents. There must be a running narrative from the Right about critical issues and events, about how they shape policy, and about how conservative policies might shape events.

    As more than one conservative talk show host has stated, it is clear that with either a Senator McCain or Senator Barack Obama in the White House, conservatism will be in exile. In other words, conservatives will not have a seat the table. As potentially disastrous a scenario as that might appear to right-thinking Americans, it should also be viewed as an opportunity to stand up for principles of liberty and limited government.

    Clearly, 2008 is a time for choosing amongst conservatives. Will they continue trying to supinely accommodate the Left’s desire for even Bigger Government? Or will they fight it? Americans for Limited Government is proud to state that it will be at the center of that fight, no matter how bloody and costly. If we lose, we lose. But we will not surrender.

    In the words of William Lloyd Garrison: “We are in earnest – We will not equivocate – We will not excuse – We will not retreat a single inch – and we will be heard.” The political paradigm has shifted. We have made our choice.

    Now, the GOP must make theirs. As must the conservative leadership in the nation’s capital.


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