Reaping the benefits of the paleoconservative strategy
By Frank Salvato
It is said that, politically, the extreme left and the extreme right are diametrically opposed in their core beliefs, but that the two groups are cut out of the same cloth. There is more than a little truth to this notion and the results of the November 7th, 2006 midterm elections prove the point. While the anti-war Progressive-Left voted for their candidates, the paleoconservative – extremely or stubbornly conservative in political matters - right didn't vote against them. Thanks to both groups, we now have Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
I awoke the day after the Republican bloodletting thinking that conservatives have been through worse and that, just as before, we would carry on through this liberal storm. After all, those of us who remember the embarrassment of the Carter years and the frustration of the Clinton years understand that elections don't change what is right and what is wrong; they simply change the work that lies before us.
Then I read the first email in my in-box from a young Air Force Master Sergeant:
I have to admit, his words cut me to the bone.
The obvious answer is that we persevere. Because the problems that face our country continue to exist even with the change of power in Washington DC, there is still a great need for solutions.
Now that the Democrats have shed their role of obstructionists for the responsibilities of leadership, they will have to come to grips with the facts on many of the issues and realize they cannot simply "cut-and-run" from the threats and problems facing our country. The radical Islamofascist terror threat, Social Security reform, tax reform, border security, comprehensive immigration reform, election integrity; these are all very real problems for which we the voters demand very real solutions. For the Democrats it will not be enough to remain the "party of no." Now they have to bring some solutions to the table and they are about to find out how difficult that is when faced with stiff opposition.
"What do we do now?"
To say the least, when even one of our men in uniform, charged with standing guard on the wall that separates our enemies from our children, feels betrayed because paleoconservatives placed their ideology ahead of the consequences of losing a critical election, it is time to admonish the paleoconservatives.
As I previously stated, Republicans and conservatives do not have the luxury of employing protest votes in General Elections. The appropriate – and most effective – moment for intra-party disagreement is during the Primary Elections. Once the primaries are over Republicans and conservatives must – repeat must – support their candidates. To do otherwise is to abandon any chance of keeping power out of the hands of those whose ideology is contradictory to conservative core beliefs.
The results of the 2006 paleoconservative mutiny are disconcerting. Ultra-liberal, Progressive-Leftist Nancy Pelosi will ascend to the office of Speaker of the House, third in line to the presidency. John Conyers, who is hell-bent on impeaching President Bush and who held mock impeachment hearings as late as last year, is slated to be the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. And Charlie Rangel will be House Ways and Means chairman. Rangel has stated quite forcefully that he would relish the demise of all of the Bush tax cuts; tax cuts that have empowered our economy and seen more home and small business ownership than at any other time in US history. All have opined that they want the troops to come home, now, risking an emboldened Islamofascist enemy that has literally declared war on the United States, calling for an end to our great experiment in democracy.
These are the results of the paleoconservatives' protest vote. Their lack of vision has succeeded in facilitating the worst case scenario for Republicans, conservatives and our country.
Michael Medved said it best a few weeks ago. He said – and I paraphrase – that elections aren't for voting in the candidate that satisfies all of your criteria but for voting in the better of the two candidates presented.
Through blind, inflexible adherence to their ideology on November 7, 2006, paleoconservatives failed to take into consideration the immediate effects of their actions. As a result, the conservative cause has been set back at least two years, maybe more. We have the ultra-right to thank for that.
As for the young Master Sergeant who wrote asking, "What do we do now," I responded:
We persevere. We do what we know we have to and we do it just as well as if we had won. Elections don't change what is right and what is wrong; they simply change the work that we have to do.
Just as we witnessed partisan obstruction at the hands of the minority Democrats for the past six years, we will no doubt witness many more hard fought political battles on Capitol Hill now that the rational thinking are in the minority. But our nation will survive this error in judgment.
While this may feel like a loss today – and it surely is, we must view this event as an opportunity to rebound in the upcoming 2008 election. We must work – now – to address any intra-party grievances so as to be cohesive for the 2008 contest and to farm good candidates for the 2008 primaries. We must do this – now – so that our slate is strong, focused and appealing, and so our voter base is faithful and dedicated.
You said you, put on your uniform this morning to "an entirely different country." It may feel like that, but it is still the greatest nation on earth. It is still a nation where we can affect political change without the fear of oppression. As for your mission, it is still the same honorable and important work it was 24 hours before the election, perhaps now even more so.
We will survive this political defeat to vote another day.
Best to you and yours. And Master Sergeant…thank you for your service to our country.
Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, and is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, as well as an occasional guest on numerous radio shows coast to coast. He recently partnered in producing the first-ever symposium on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism in Washington, DC. His pieces have been recognized by the House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright © 2006 Frank Salvato