When I began attending Tea Party rallies a couple of years ago, progressive acquaintances would snipe, “How come you weren’t concerned about the deficit when Bush was President?” I’d want to use figures and charts to explain the explosion of federal spending. But knowing how bad liberals are at math, I’d resort to, “I was concerned. It’s just WAY BIGGER now.”
Predictably, they would leer at me, as if to say, “The only reason you oppose Obama’s policies is because he’s Black, you biggot.” However, we learned recently that the President is also Irish, and rumor has it that he may change the spelling of his name to “Barach O’Bamaugh” to attract Irish voters. So maybe I’m more concerned with federal spending now because the President is Irish? Naught.
Conservatives have been concerned about government spending since the nation’s founding. For example, Benjamin Franklin noted, "When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic." And every time the government extends its “generosity” as a vehicle for greater control over people’s lives, they become increasingly dependent on it. That’s what’s so insidious about liberal social programs, and why today’s necessary budget cuts and entitlement reforms are so contentious.
A couple of decades ago, concerns about spending was manifested in the presidential campaigns of H. Ross Perot. Two of Perot’s main issues in the 1992 campaign were the federal deficit and national debt. George H. W. Bush had lost his street cred as a conservative since he’d reneged on his “no new taxes” pledge. In a year when it was supposedly “all about the economy,” Perot captured nearly 19 percent of the popular vote, allowing Bill Clinton to win the Presidency. After founding the Reform Party, Perot ran again in 1996, when, despite the presence of a good economy, he still managed to garner 8.4 percent of the vote, almost identical to Clinton’s margin for re-election over moderate Bob Dole.
Fast forward a dozen years, and the Tea Party emerges as a response to the Obama-Pelosi-Reid triumvirate. After taking a 62-seat shellacking last fall, Democrats have been heartened by the special election in New York’s 26th congressional district. An under-reported likelihood about that race is that the Republican sex scandal that opened the seat, and the Republicans' choice to run a moderate over a conservative, likely dampened conservative turn-out. Nevertheless, Democrats are sporting toothy grins and dusting off the old Mediscare playbooks for next November.
But they’re overlooking two very important intervening elements: time and our resolve. In the 17 months until the next election, conservatives should:
1. Advocate a broad-based conservative agenda that focuses on economic prosperity and less intrusive government. This liberal experiment is a failure, but when there’s no clear conservative in the race, voters can make bad decisions. We need to communicate that the party of “hope and change” is really the party of unemployment, insolvency, and misery.
2. Combat liberal lies by telling the truth about the difficult choices our country faces. Most of our problems, from the housing bubble to the recession to immigration to the need for health care reform, have been caused or exacerbated by failed liberal policies.
3. After a vigorous debate during the primary season, unite to defeat the liberal-progressive machine. Their greatest hope is to fracture the conservative-Republican-Tea Party coalition, which would allow Ireland’s newfound son to step-dance his way to a second term. Rumor has it that Donald Trump may launch a run as an independent. If he does, he needs to get exactly 2 votes: his and his hairdresser’s.