Conservatism Rising

In the wake of Scott Brown's historic Senate run, we would like to put the last eighteen months of politics into perspective and summarize what the Massachusetts race means for the future of conservatism. Despite what may be written in the Liberal press, this race represents much more than just a case of a "good" candidate versus a "bad" candidate, and it is far more profound than a case of "populism and anti-establishment tensions run amok." What this race means for the country is simple, and its results can be summarized as a clear refutation of the liberal agenda in favor of the conservative position.

If the above thesis is correct, then we must answer the following question: "If the liberal agenda is being so clearly refuted in favor of the conservative position, then why did Democrats win so handily in the 2006 and 2008 elections?" We think the answer is clear. In 2006 and 2008, the Democrats didn't win by running a liberal agenda against a conservative agenda; they won by running squarely against a president and party whose policies were neither popular nor conservative.

Bush and his Republican administration greatly expanded the power of government along with the welfare state, doubled the national budget, doubled the deficit, signed the largest entitlement bill since the 1960s, regulated carbon dioxide as a "pollutant," signed Sarbanes-Oxley and the steel tariffs, helped promote the expansion of huge federally-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in order to appear "compassionate" to people who needed home loans -- and when the housing market inevitably crashed due to years of poor government policies, he proposed hundreds of billions in federal aid to various private and public entities and handed out billions in economic "stimulus" checks.

Under the above conditions, it is reasonable to ask, "How could a candidate running in opposition to these policies lose?" We don't think he could, unless he advocated for an agenda even more radical than and to the left of the above policies. After the 2008 presidential race between John McCain and Barack Obama, multiple pundits proudly claimed that "conservatism is dead." However, unlike the aforementioned pundits, we did not view the 2008 presidential race as a battle between conservative and liberal policies, with liberalism/progressivism ultimately winning the battle of ideas. To the contrary, such a battle was never fought at all.

The 2008 election contest was really decided on the day the markets crashed. At once, Obama and the Democrats squarely pointed the finger of blame at Bush, the Republicans, and the policies mentioned above. At the time, it did not matter what was the exact mechanism which caused the housing collapse and subsequent market crash. It did not matter whether the Bush policies were conservative or not. It did not matter how much Democratic policies played into the mix (in a previous article, we outlined how policies initiated under the Clinton White House laid the foundation for the collapse). The public was deeply concerned with the economic situation, and it was quite natural under those circumstances to gravitate toward the party not in power. Further, Barack Obama ran on a very moderate agenda and on some issues (e.g., deficit reduction), he could have been viewed as conservative. Barack Obama and the Democrats offered change, and under the conditions at the time, "change" sounded damned good. McCain offered the same thing, but with less charisma and less legitimacy, considering his ties to the previous administration. Under these conditions, McCain and the Republicans lost, and conservatism was written off as dead.

What a difference a year makes!

In a year's time, the clarity of President Obama's and the Democrats' agenda has been revealed. Since taking office, Obama has rejuvenated his party's historical commitment to expanding government power, increasing taxes, and spending with reckless abandon. He regards doctors as predators, businessmen as parasites, and police as "stupid." He wants to prosecute American intelligence officers for using "harsh" interrogation techniques against enemies who have killed and are seeking to kill Americans, and he wants to prosecute American soldiers for acts of bravery in the field (i.e., punching a top al-Qaeda operative in the gut while capturing him).

He has bailed out auto companies and homeowners for making irresponsible decisions with finances. He orchestrated an astronomical economic "stimulus" package, which has stimulated nothing except the bank accounts of top Democratic campaign contributors and the public/government sector. To save face, the administration created a fake metric to tout jobs "created or saved" while unemployment was climbing past 10% in spite of promises it would not top 8% if the stimulus was passed. He is orchestrating a health care takeover which will raise the cost of health care for the vast majority of Americans, all the while negotiating special deals for unions (top campaign contributors -- do you see a theme here?) to avoid the cost increases that everyone else will have to bear. He is encouraging a cap-and-trade scheme that will increase the cost of energy for producers and consumers across the board and has pledged billions in foreign aid to help developing countries overcome the effects imposed on them from man-made global warming despite the fact that the theory is crumbling down around him. And the list of abuses goes on. The American people have had enough.

The boldest act of defiance against this radical liberal agenda can be seen in the tea parties, in which hundreds of thousands of Americans -- not your typical protesting type because of constraints imposed by work and family -- have assembled under their own motivation to advocate for this country's founding principles. Simply stated, these are the principles of individual freedom, personal responsibility, and limited government. These are the principles in which true conservatism is firmly rooted, principles which the Republican Party has been sorely lacking over the previous decade.

Enter the current Senate race, and you finally have a true "battle of ideas," which the 2008 election lacked. On the left stands the Democratic challenger, who is little more than a "toe-the-party-line" candidate. Over the previous week, we have seen the heaviest hitters in the Democratic party come to bat for her, and she has proclaimed emphatically that she can be counted on as the 60th "yes" vote in the Senate for important issues like government takeover of the health care system, cap-and-trade legislation, and increased taxation (unless you believe she just wants to raise tax revenue without raising taxes...don't we all?).

On the right stands Scott Brown, an ideologically committed, previously unknown Conservative. He is firmly committed to the principles of individual freedom and limited government, and he has clearly stated that if elected, he will be the 41st "no" vote in the Senate on health care reform. The battle lines in the sand were clearly drawn, the people have spoken in a resounding fashion, and the message is resonating loud and clear. In one of the most Democratic states in the union, the liberal agenda has been clearly rejected. Conservatism is indeed rising.

"The rising tide of liberty will lift all boats."
 -Ronald Reagan

Andrew Foy, M.D. and Brenton Stransky are the authors of the upcoming book The Young Conservative's Field Guide. They can be contacted through their website at
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