After Democrats swept the White House and Congress a year ago, pundits predicted the death of conservatism and the Republican Party. The results of Tuesday’s election prove them wrong.
Not only did Republicans win the governorship in New Jersey and Virginia but also conservative opposition prompted liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava to drop out of the Congressional District 23 race in New York state in favor of conservative candidate Doug Hoffman.
While the virtually unknown Hoffman ultimately lost to his Democratic opponent, Republicans Robert F. McDonnell and Chris Christie — propelled by a shift in sentiment by independents — swept to victory in Virginia and New Jersey, respectively.
Distaste for President Obama's and the Democratic-controlled Congress’ left-leaning policies clearly was a significant factor in turning the tide. But the results also show that, contrary to dire predictions of a year ago, conservatism is alive and well.
Dave Keene, who heads the American Conservative Union and is one of the country’s most astute political observers, notes that death knells are sounded for conservatives every time Republicans lose.
“The political problem that conservatives often face, and this happened after the Barry Goldwater defeat, it happened after the Watergate Democratic victory, and it’s happened now after 2006-2008, is that there are some who, whenever you lose, decide it’s not the performance of your candidate, it’s not your failure of communication, it’s not any of those things,” Keene tells Newsmax. “It’s your principles that are wrong.”
Thus, after the previous defeats, “We had leading so-called conservative pundits like David Frum, formerly of National Review, and David Brooks of The New York Times who rushed into print and onto the airwaves to caution conservatives that there was something wrong with their beliefs,” Keene says.
According to those pundits and others, “The primary problem we had was that we actually believed in limited government, lower taxes, and less spending,” Keene says. “And the argument was that that’s sort of an outdated concept that appeals to no one, that we had to modernize our beliefs, become more like Democrats. Brooks, the Times’ in-house conservative, was just enamored with President Obama, and remains enamored of Obama.”
Despite the fact that Scozzafava is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, and for card-check legislation that would take away the right of workers to cast a secret ballot on union representation, Keene points out that Brooks described her Friday on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer as being “dead-center in American politics.”
“Along with Frum, Brooks expressed horror at the very idea that conservatives might challenge the GOP establishment,” Keene says. “These pundits said that our problem was us, and our problem was that we believed in things that could not appeal to the American people.”
Aside from the Republican sweep in Tuesday’s elections, “My response is, What is it that is getting people to attend the tea parties?” Keene says. “What is it that led tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands or a million to march on Washington? It wasn’t because of their ‘let’s sidle up to the more soft quasi-liberal new conservatism’ that they’d like to see. It was the values that animated Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, and the conservative movement for all these years.”
Those core beliefs are grounded in a fear of a big, overly powerful government.
“Conservatives think they’re smarter than the government when it comes to spending their own money,” Keene says. “And they’re not in favor of the government taking over everything and running it because they know, one, that it’s dangerous, and two, that government bureaucrats can’t manage anything. The only people who think that would work are people who call themselves conservatives and write for The New York Times.”
What the elections prove, Keene says, is “not only that conservatism lives, but that the traditional conservative values that led to Ronald Reagan’s victories continue to resonate with America’s voters.”
Americans “get it,” Keene says. “The question is whether GOP leaders and self-described political experts like Brooks and Frum have any idea what’s going on around them.”
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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