Nine reasons why conservatives should relax and learn to live with Barack Obama

Guest post courtesy of Random Lurker
1. At least he’s not Hillary.

Let’s face it, this was always going to be a Democrat year. John McCain has done a fantastic job to keep the opinion polls within the margin of error (before the nominations were settled “Generic Democrat” was beating “Generic Republican” in most polls by at least 20 points), but the Bush legacy is too big and too toxic to overcome. If it has to be a Democrat, we could do a lot worse (and almost did).

2. Maybe they have a point.

As we are all aware, one of the talking points of this campaign has been the opportunity that an African-American president offers to put America’s Original Sin behind us. Whilst conservatives and people of faith may find this sort of messianic rhetoric distasteful, the fact remains that Obama’selection would be a historic moment. It’s worth taking a chance to see how it plays out. And let’s face it, anything that means we don’t have to treat Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan as serious figures any more must be worth a try.

3. The rest of the world does exist, and it isn’t going away.

I know this should never be a deciding point in any American elections, but conservatives should recognise that all foreign opinion polls show that Obama is generating a huge amount of goodwill overseas. As conservatives, we are also aware that the essential foreign policy goals of the United States do not differ much from administration to administration, and, if we were honest, we would admit that an administration that is respected and popular abroad stands a better chance of achieving these goals than one that is despised.

4. Mene, mene, tekel upharsin.

This is the one where I step aside from my constructed persona as a participant in an internal debate amongst American conservatives and instead speak with my own voice, as a British conservative offering advice to Americans.

Face it, my friends. You are in the same position now as we were in the dying days of the last Conservative administration before Tony Blair came to power. We may argue until the cows come home about the merits of one policy over another, but the fact remains that George W Bush has contaminated the conservative brand for a generation, and in particular has tested the oxymoron of big government conservatism to destruction. If you are not to spend as long in the wilderness as we have you need to step aside from history before it steamrollers you into the ground, rebuild your intellectual energies in opposition (and, if necessary, fight the civil wars that need to be fought to regain intellectual and moral coherence) and give the liberals time to prove why America needs conservatives.

When we lost office in 1997, it was predicted at the time that the next conservative prime minister would be someone who wasn’t even in parliament yet. Many thought that was hopelessly pessimistic, but it has turned out to be true (David Cameron, the current leader of the Conservative Party and likely winner of the next general election, was elected in 2001). If you don’t want this to be true for the US as well, you will need to start rebuilding as soon as possible.

5. Healthcare.

You know as well as I how when every election comes round the Democrats like to claim that we evil conservatives are in favour of allowing the poor and uninsured to die in the streets of easily preventable illnesses while our pals in the drug companies hoover up billions, and how if they were only allowed to implement their policies everything would be as fair and efficient as in such paradises of socialised medicine as Britain (this somehow manages to ignore the fact that the last time they were in office they tried to do something about this and screwed it up royally. But whatever…). So – let them do it. With a Democrat president and Democrat majorities in both houses, there are no excuses. Either they fix healthcare and everybody’s happy or they mess it up – again – and discredit their own attacks on us. Either way, it goes away as an issue.

6. Gay marriage.

Okay, schadenfreude isn’t supposed to be the most noble of motives, but wouldn’t it be nice if for once it was a Democrat who had to go on Ellen’s chat show and explain why he wasn’t prepared to allow her girlfriend to sit by her bedside in hospital? (Most Democrats – at least publicly – claim to agree with most Republicans on this issue. They are however happy to keep their heads down and let the Republicans take the flak. In government this will not be an option for them.)

Seriously guys — call it civil partnerships if the word marriage makes you queasy, but this is an issue where we really need to burn the social conservatives if we’re going to appeal to the younger generation, and we won’t be able to do it in government. Let the Democrats take the heat and fury of legalising it (they won’t dare not to, they need gay votes a lot more than we do) and let the social conservatives go nuts in opposition. The rest of us can keep our heads down and when we get back in we can treat it like Roe vs. Wade – you don’t have to like it, but it’s the settled law of the land, and conservatism is about respect for the law.

If gays want to pay taxes and take out mortgages and generally be as dull and conventional as straights, then let them – it’s no skin off our noses. The real schadenfreude is they might even get so dull and conventional that more end up voting with us – heck, we might even get to the point the Brits have reached, where a leading Conservative politician can announce his intention to marry his boyfriend and the reaction from the rest of the party is basically limited to “seems like a nice boy.”

7. “Thou hast it now – King, Cawdor, Glamys, all…”

As mentioned above, this is going to be a Democrat year. In John McCain we have managed to nominate the only candidate who stands a chance of standing against the tide, but for the House and Senate this year’s elections are going to be a bonfire of the vanities as far as the Republican Party is concerned. Even if John McCain does manage to get elected he is going to face vicious partisans like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, complete with veto-proof majorities. There is precious little he would be able to get done anyway so we might as well spare him the grief (see my next point for more on this). Let Obama deal with Reid and Pelosi instead – best of luck to him.

So, let the Democrats have their clean sweep. If they behave themselves, then all well and good – if however they listen to the nutroots and go berserk with power (frankly the way to bet, IMHO) and try to hand George Bush over to the ICC or something then they will only succeed in reminding Americans why they prefer divided government and this should give us a way back in the 2010 mid-terms.

8. We owe it to John McCain.

Yes, you heard that right. I’ve thought long and hard about this one, and what I’m about to say may be controversial, but –

John McCain is an authentic American hero. He has served his country on the battlefield, stood by her whilst being tortured by her enemies, and continued to seek ways to serve her in the moral cesspit of politics. He will continue – is continuing – to offer himself up for his nation’s service until he draws his dying breath, and will not count the cost. As conservatives, we are supposed to understand what this sort of sacrifice means. This also means that, as conservatives, we should understand there comes a time when it is our duty to stand up and say “enough, old warrior. Ride your horse into the sunset and enjoy the retirement you have earned. We can take it from here.”

I can hear the obvious rejoinder now – but what if the optimistic theme I’ve attempted to lay out above is wrong, and Obama is every bit the disaster I admit there is a possibility he might be? The answer to this is simple enough – the United States is a great country. It has survived bad presidencies before, and will survive this one. And what sort of men and women would we be if we could not fight the battles ahead ourselves, but instead needed a 71 year old to fight them for us?

9. Do we really want a Cylon for president?

Enough said….


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bridgett
    Jun 09, 2008 @ 00:37:18

    It’s weird. Finding out that you’re British cools my jets. Not that I’m a debater about politics in any sense of the term. I found this blog because of religion, not politics…


  2. Stephen
    Jun 09, 2008 @ 06:13:22

    Hi, Bridgett. That was a guest post courtesy of Random, who is British. (And who usually defends a pro-Republican position.)

    Meanwhile, I’m Canadian. So you’re watching a Canadian and a Brit who are both heavily invested in this year’s U.S. election. There is global interest, particularly in Obama’s candidacy.


  3. Random
    Jun 09, 2008 @ 18:11:41

    What Stephen said – POTUS is a big enough job that you can’t avoid the likes of us talking about it I’m afraid. It’s not like the general elections in Bhutan which, although not without interest (King – “You really must elect a parliament you know, it’s what modern countries do.” People – “We’d really rather not Your Majesty, semi-divine monarchy suits us fine…”) have sadly passed by without comment.

    BTW although nothing was changed in the article, a couple of hotlinks failed to survive the transition, this one was supposed to be attached to the reference to Britain in the health care post (it’s a story about how government targets and bureaucracy killed literally hundreds of people in a state run health service) and this one was supposed to be attached to the reference to a conservative politician tying the knot with his boyfriend.

    PS what does “cools my jets” mean? Two countries divided by a common language, indeed…


  4. Bridgett
    Jun 12, 2008 @ 22:29:20

    Yes, Stephen, I knew you were Canadian–I didn’t realize that Random was British, that’s all.

    Cool my jets means to simmer down? hold your horses? My dad used to say it when we’d get all indignant about something. “Cool your jets, I’m not done talking,” would put it in context, I guess. Just that I wish I had enough to say, appropriately, to argue with you sometimes, and now I don’t feel like I need to so very badly. And I don’t say anything to Stephen, Canadian or not, because, well, I agree with him for the most part most of the time.


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