In the wake of the election, it’s worth a few minutes to consider what has become of the Republican Party. Simply put, it’s in shambles. That’s not good. We need two viable parties, each to keep the other on its toes.
When I check Webster’s for the definition of “conservative,” I find the following:
Tending to preserve old institutions, methods, customs and the like; adhering to what is old or established; opposing or resisting change.
Although I’m an independent, I tend to think of myself as a conservative along the lines of the above definition. I want to conserve our nation’s wealth, our American way of life and American companies and jobs. When I hear of resources being depleted, I want to conserve them. When I hear of the environment being threatened, I want to conserve it.
I struggle to understand how, in 1947, ditching 171 years of the successful application of tariffs to protect domestic industry in favor of an unproven 18th century free trade theory was a “conservative” thing to do. How is it “conservative” to continue to cling to such free trade theories even now, after they’ve been discredited by global economic collapse? How is irresponsible deregulation, giving free rein to greed to plunder our financial institutions, a “conservative” thing to do? When scientists universally warn of a looming environmental catastrophe, how is it “conservative” to deny the problem and dismiss the facts? How is it “conservative” to adopt a “drill, baby, drill!” mantra in the face of an energy crisis?
In Tuesday’s election, conservatism was the winner. Incredibly, it was the Democratic party that, at least temporarily, evolved from the party of left-wing ideology and special interests into a new home for true conservatism, conserving the American way of life. The Republican Party has been left exposed as a radical party devoted to corporate greed, one that puts blind faith in free trade and globalization, all wrapped in a thin and ever-more-transparent veneer of “Christian values” and marketed by loud-mouthed radio talk show hosts. Fewer and fewer people are buying it.
We need the two-party system and the checks and balances it provides. I’m leery of a government in which one party is weakened to the point that the other has free rein. But the world is changing and both parties need to evolve along with it. In this election, at least as demonstrated by their embrace of a conservative presidential candidate, the Democratic party has evolved into the new home for true conservatism, at least for the time being.
Now, in the aftermath, is the time for some soul-searching by the Republican party. I have no problem with their pro-business ideology. But they need to make sure that business is working for Americans and actually conserving jobs and our economy. The time for self-delusion is past – self-delusion that huge trade deficits are sustainable, that deregulation won’t foster greed and corruption, that the earth’s supply of fossil fuels is unlimited, that greenhouse gases can concentrate in the atmosphere without effect and that never-ending population growth is a rational economic model.
Things have changed dramatically and the world bears little resemblance to the one of Reagan’s time in 1980. The world population has nearly doubled and so too has the population of the U.S. Communism has been swept away and vast labor forces have been unleashed to prey upon our once-healthy economy. Oil resources are being depleted at a frightening pace and climate change threatens our continued existence. True conservatives tackle such problems to preserve our way of life. Denial of these realities isn’t conservatism; it’s the road to ruin.
C’mon, Republican Party, we need you. There’s much to be done. Overpopulation, global climate change, over-dependence on dwindling oil supplies, economic collapse – all of these are challenges that demand new thinking and new approaches if we are to have any hope of preserving our American way of life. We need both parties competing for the best approaches. Are you up to the challenge or will you continue to cling to the glory of the Reagan years? That time is past. It’s time to move on. True conservatism is still looking for a good home.