With the election of Barack Obama, American pundits are once again prattling over the fate of a weakened GOP. Republican commentator Pat Buchanan bemoaned, “The Republican ‘lock’ on the presidency… patented by Reagan, has been picked. The only lingering question is whether an era of inexorable Republican decline has set in.” The Republican party may be in sharp decline, but does this suggest a rejection of the party, or the philosophy of conservatism that it claims to represent? If the latest Democratic rout was a protest vote against unpopular Republican politicians who had abandoned their timeless values, a newly principled GOP, one that offers to resuscitate our dwindling freedom and prosperity, will soar to future victory.
In order to craft lasting political successes, Republicans must show how conservatives are the true liberals of our time. Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman explained thus, “Conservative means conserving, keeping things as they are. The true conservatives today are the people who are in favor of ever bigger government. I would like to dismantle that.” The founding fathers, whose views align with modern conservative values, were liberal revolutionaries, for they believed that humanity is endowed with its rights by the creator God, not by a government. They held a deep respect for the individual, and they sought to only infringe on his liberty in the enforcement of blind justice. Much like the GOP, they fought tirelessly against the centralized control of rights and private property in the hands of a collective authority.
Conservatism is a beautiful philosophy, for it tramples on the assumption that a government body can dictate the life and livelihood of an individual for the “greater good.” Conservatism rejects regulation and excessive, discriminatory taxation, not because it values greed, but because it wishes to guard individuals from the envy and fleeting whims of self-interested politicians and bureaucrats. It dismisses the notion of equal outcome, instead championing the goal of equal opportunity, where people are free to succeed and fail based solely on their own merit. Nor is conservatism bigoted, for true conservatives value each and every individual’s natural rights, outlined in the constitution, regardless of gender, race or lifestyle choice. In spite of the left’s attempts to demean it, conservatism remains a fundamental component of American politics.
The Democratic party has long since abandoned conservatism, now gleefully promoting statism and the gradual succession of our freedom to a faceless nanny-state bureaucracy. Therefore the success of the Democratic party has always correlated with a loss of individual liberty and a movement toward soft government tyranny. Yet the Republican party, claiming to stand for conservatism, has slowly abandoned the liberal principles of our founding in a vain attempt to be “politically relevant.” The Republican party must come to understand that freedom is always relevant, and no concoction of the Democrats can do a greater service to the American people than the diminishment of government intrusion in our lives. If the GOP can articulate its fundamental values, it will not only start winning elections, but it will also liberate the suffering, overburdened American citizenry from a dictatorial welfare state.