New Common Sense
Applying First Principles to the Issues of Today
No Need to Panic
Conservatives are, rightly, disappointed.
A president who’s recklessly spent trillions, expanded government and put many of our principles and institutions at risk will enjoy a second term. But it’s no time for despair. Now is the time to stand up and declare we will continue to work to rein in big government and defend freedom.
Voters gave conservatives a mandate of sorts two years ago, electing a Tea Party-supported House of Representatives to check President Obama’s excesses. And it worked.
After ramming through measures including Obamacare and Dodd-Frank in his first two years, the president failed to deliver any big liberal programs after that.
In 2012, voters returned the president to the White House, yet also made him the first president since World War II re-elected without improving his margin of victory. “The bad news is that Paul Ryan remains in the House,” quips Hugh Hewitt. But, “The good news is that he remains in the House, and that the rising generation of governors remains incredibly talented and innovative and they now add Mike Pence to their number.”
President Obama won a clear victory in the Electoral College (that’s one of the reasons it exists), but: “Much like Truman, Obama enters a second term with no mandate to speak of, and with roughly half of the country intractably opposed to his policies,” writes Jay Cost at the Weekly Standard. Obama’s grand themes were Big Bird and birth control.
His campaign mostly consisted of attack ads and personal insults. He won, many say, by managing to stitch together a coalition of those seeking federal largesse.
“The Democratic Party is mostly an incoherent amalgam of interest groups, most of which are vying for benefits for themselves and their members at the expense of other Americans,” notes Yuval Levin. “This kind of party is why America’s founders worried about partisanship and were, at least at first, eager to avoid a party system. It is a bunch of factions more than a party.”
For their part, conservatives must find ways to limit big government. For as William McGurn warned, the recent hurricane exposed its failures. “The irony is that modern American liberalism has become a movement grounded less in practical politics than a sort of religious fervor—and often requiring the same strong faith in the face of disappointment and failure. The difference, of course, is that while religions often promise to deliver in the next world, government is supposed to do it in this one.”
Conservatives can make headway in this divisive atmosphere by offering the right policy proposals. The end of the campaign brings the beginning of the governing season. We have a lot of work to do. From entitlement reform to national defense and energy policy, The Heritage Foundation has developed and will continue to advocate for the solutions the country needs.
Obamacare is dragging down our already struggling economy. Our nation is far beyond just broke; our national debt is $16 trillion (a 60 percent increase under President Obama) and climbing every day. A lame duck Congress will return to Washington to try to head off Taxmageddon. The present House of Representatives must hold the line over the next two months and refuse to sign on to even more spending or higher taxes. We must stop our national binge of spending, taxing and borrowing. And we will.
Whatever the policy battles, remember this above all, happy warriors: It’s the First Principles that undergird America that make this country great. Conservatives must work harder than ever before to defend them and to see them translated into the right public policies.
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