We have seen this before. After the Republicans lost elections in 1964 with Barry Goldwater, in 1974 following Richard Nixon and Watergate, and in 1976 and 1992 when Jimmy Carter and then Bill Clinton won the White House with unified Democrat control of Congress, the establishment cried out: "The GOP must move left. The conservative movement is dead." They were wrong. We moved forward to Reagan Republicanism—lower taxes, limited government, fewer regulations, and a strong national defense. Conservatism won elections.
George W. Bush has increased federal spending as a percentage of the economy from 18.4 percent to 20.9 percent. That is not conservative. He created the first new entitlements since the Great Society, Medicare part D, and an unending commitment to subsidize healthcare in Africa. He began the nationalization of education policy with "No Child Left Behind." And Bush spent five years being mayor of Baghdad rather than president of the United States.
This will not permanently harm conservatism any more than Nixon did when he raised taxes, created new agencies, and instituted wage and price controls. He and Bush eschewed the Founding Fathers' principles of limited government, low taxes, and a strong national defense that we "conserve."
Yes, with the help of hundreds of millions of dollars of coerced union dues and with millions of dollars of political grants to groups like ACORN, the now-famous vote-fraud facilitator, Barack Obama and the Democrats won this election. John McCain and the GOP were handcuffed with something called Feingold-McCain, which limited neither union nor taxpayer financing.
But Obama ran as Reagan in his TV ads, saying he would cut taxes and accusing McCain of favoring higher taxes. Obama said that he would cut spending to offset any new spending.
And where is America? Exit polling found that 34 percent of Americans call themselves conservative, 44 percent moderate, and only 22 percent liberal. America wants center-right governance but will get left-wing government.
A November 9 Rasmussen poll found Americans divided 43 to 41 percent favoring Democrats over the GOP on the generic congressional ballot. Two percent? Some landslide. Some mandate. This is not a disappearing party.
There are two models before Republicans and conservatives. In October 1990, President George H. W. Bush hammered out with the Democrats a bipartisan $137 billion tax hike and $274 billion in promised spending cuts. The cuts never happened—spending actually rose $22 billion. Voters fired Bush in 1992. Republicans who put their fingerprints on tax and spending increases are punished. Bipartisan big government hurts the GOP.
In 1993, Clinton and the Democrats passed a tax hike on income, gasoline, Social Security recipients, small businesses, and investors. They increased federal spending for welfare giveaways to state and local governments by $250 billion over a five-year period. Not a single Republican joined in the tax hikes and spending spree. In November 1994, Republicans won the House and Senate.
The lessons learned from the past: Don't let the establishment left fool conservatives into quitting popular policies of lower spending, limited government, and no tax hikes. And when in the congressional minority, don't rush to make bad policy bipartisan bad policy.
The GOP and conservative principles will win in 2010 when America learns that "Obama" is simply French for "Carter and Clinton": More spending, taxes, and regulation and fewer jobs.
Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi have never supported a policy that would increase your 401(k) or American jobs. Ideas they have pushed have already reduced your 401(k), jobs, and investment in America. They are the tribunes for the trial lawyers, the labor union bosses, and the big-city machines, three parasite groups. They live off the income and wealth created by others. They want you to pay more union dues, higher taxes, and legal bills. Obama, Reid, and Pelosi will deliver what they want—not what America thought it voted for.
Grover G. Norquist is president of the advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform and author of the book Leave Us Alone.
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