Conservatives Need a Back-to-Basics Message

"So how did we get here? High taxes, regulations, massive deficits and what are we doing about it? High taxes, regulations, and massive deficits."

Mark Levin

Conservatives appalled by recent events, such as bailout mania and Barack Obama becoming our next president, have to choose how they are going to spend the next four years. They can either succumb to Obama Derangement Syndrome -- and the despair accompanying it -- or elect to be productive. Actually, the course is clear-cut given how much we care about the nation and our collective futures. The general public should hear from us and hear from us often.

The right must not conduct guerrilla war from red state enclaves, but instead return to core principles and groom a leader capable of articulating them. The dichotomy between Republicans and Democrats must be readily evident, and viable alternatives to leftism and statism must be elucidated. To defeat our foes and save our land conservatives need not a reconstitution, but a reiteration of beliefs. Certainly, the obstacles facing our side and America as a whole are quite serious, but educating the electorate about the merits of our ideas is a necessary first step.

Daunting the process will be, however. Eight years of the Bush administration and its concomitant Grand Old Spending Party have contaminated the reputation of everyone associated with it. That George W. Bush is about as much of a right-winger as was Nelson Rockefeller is no defense. Granted, the president clings to bureaucrats and federal programs in the fashion that most of us hold on to the Constitution, but this truth is largely known only to conservatives. The left has successfully obfuscated this fact and sold the American people on the notion that the 43rd president's faults are reflective of a conservative ideology he does not now, or ever did, possess. Bushian bon mots, such as "We have a responsibility that when somebody hurts, government has got to move," make it tempting to dismiss their criticism, but the president's devotion to federal paternalism has completely confused both moderates and independents.

Regardless of how unfair it may seem on its face, a tsunami of federal spending and over-inflation of state has made the electorate no longer cognizant of the inherent differences between left and right. Therefore, over the next four years it is our job to enlighten them. The bottom line is that conservatism is not so much in decline as it is unknown or completely forgotten. This is encouraging as it suggests that Barack Obama has no mandate. His victory was made possible by "moving to the center" and deceiving the citizenry regarding his core values. Obama fully understands that on issues like tax cuts and government waste the public wants nothing to do with leftism. He, therefore, repositioned himself accordingly.

The cure for what ails us can be found in a reaffirmation of conservative basics: whittle down the size of the Leviathan, proclaim the need for free trade, create incentives for entrepreneurship, promote growth, and realize that this is a country which we must preserve. Most of all, we must end the bailout-a-go-go. Robbing from the taxpayers to rescue business is a recipe for nothing but contraction and decline. Business moves in cycles and what goes up must go down. This is intuitive, particularly so in the context of stocks, bonds, and housing. Rather than retreat, we should teach. Public hearings and pro bono gifts to companies must end. Conservatives should reflexively propose that the government stay as far away from the economy as possible. The free market works. Why don't we give it a try sometime?