Thanksgiving brings time for reflection and appreciation. We all have many reasons to be grateful for the blessings in our personal lives. But in a year in which so little has gone right politically for conservatives it is good to recall ten things which should engender gratitude — and indeed rejoicing — from conservatives.
First, President-elect Barack Obama won by assuring voters he would pursue tax cuts, victory in Afghanistan, prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and go “line by line” through the federal budget to eliminate waste and unneeded programs. We can doubt his sincerity or ability to achieve these ends, but he won by recognizing and espousing center-right principles. If he pursues some or all of them, the country will be the better for it. If he doesn’t, he is unlikely to succeed or maintain the broad-based popularity needed to keep Democrats in power.
Second, Hillary Clinton, James L. Jones, and Robert Gates are on tap to fill key national security roles. This is not the crew to bug out of Iraq before the job is done, repeal FISA, rush off to meet with Ahmadinejad, or support a 25% cut in defense spending. On national security, the president-elect in essence has conceded that the Left’s vision is impractical and dangerous. To echo Ronald Reagan on the Cold War, conservatives can rightly crow to the Left in the Democratic Party: “We win, you lose.”
Third, Congressional Republicans have not been a source of pride for the GOP, but the elevation of Eric Cantor to minority whip and Mike Pence to the Republican conference slot puts two of the more articulate and attractive Republicans in the spotlight. They won’t win very many votes, but they can paint stark differences and begin to restore intellectual vigor to Republicans inside the Beltway.
Fourth, Mitch McConnell. If your numbers are down, your morale is low, and you are facing a savvy Democratic president, there is no one better situated to prevent the worst and eke out small victories. And given his toughly contested Senate race, we can look forward to an equally vigorous race against Harry Reid in 2010.
Fifth, Republican governors make up a diverse, attractive, and effective group of leaders. From the ranks of Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin, Jon Huntsman, Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour, Tim Pawlenty, and Mark Sanford will come conservative ideas, articulate spokesmen, and a raft of contenders for 2012. If President Obama fails to bring about economic recovery with a reenactment of the New Deal, this group stands ready to present alternative plans for reviving the economy.