Silver Lining for the Right

Andrew Spano

The people of this great nation have spoken, and “change” has prevailed. As disappointed as I am personally that my party lost, I have taken to heart that in many respects it is a tribute to the long-standing greatness of our country that we have this “back and forth” and “coming and going” of both parties. Will November 4 be an inflection point akin to the New Deal? It’s too early to say, but nonetheless it is a break from pro-Republican sentiment that has more or less stood for 30 years.

I want to congratulate our soon-to-be President, Barack Obama. Mr. Obama ran a brilliant campaign from start to finish. He defied his own party when they wrote him off in the early stages of the primary. Do I take issue with ACORN and the allegations that are coming out of the excessive donation fraud on the part of the Obama campaign and the fact he did not keep his promise on campaign finance? Certainly, but that only begins to scratch the surface of my complaints with Mr. Obama and the Democratic Party. The point is, whether I like it or not, he will be leading our country the next four years.

I also want to praise Senator McCain on his valiant run. His concession speech sums up the man this country has always known him to be: no, not an “out-of-touch loser,” but a man who is willing to accept defeat and mistakes graciously. Senator McCain defines the word integrity, something all of our politicians (Democrat and Republican alike) could use a little of these days.

Both men and their families have just gone through one of the most grueling and demanding processes a human being can go through with the only exceptions I can think of being war and/or a life-threatening disease. Obama and McCain brought out the best of America in a trying time.

Most liberals point to this election as “redemption” for 2000 (and 2004). But what most liberals forget about 2000 is two-fold. It did not come down to just 538 people. That’s merely an excuse and doesn’t portray the full picture. In fact, George W. Bush won Florida by more votes than Al Gore won the state of New Mexico (366), but you never hear that. I guess it’s because Karl Rove personally urged people to vote? Or was that in 2004?

The second part to the “redemption” story that’s conveniently left out by liberals is that while the U.S. Supreme Court voted against President Bush and the Republican Party, the liberal Supreme Court of Florida voted in favor of Mr. Bush. But, alas, the DNC could not accept that premise and demanded it be taken to a higher court.

But these days undoubtedly belong to the Democrats, and I commend them for their gains that we will look to take back in the near future. As conservative columnist George Will commented during his lecture at Colgate last March, “If the Democrats don’t win this election, they should get out of politics. Fast.” Victory couldn’t have been served on a bigger platter to the Democrats-partly due to an internal GOP mess and arrogance after a long-standing national world view in favor of the GOP that even shaped much of the Clinton administration and an economic crisis that is unjustly pinned on Bush.

I guess Clinton’s National Homeownership Strategy of 1994, which allowed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to aggressively lend to minority communities and others who weren’t obliged to show any fiscal responsibility or put any money down doesn’t really matter. To be sure, there’s plenty of blame to go around on both sides of aisle and in both the public and private sectors, but Bush shouldn’t be the scapegoat. What isn’t blamed on George Bush these days? A friend of mine stubbed their toe the other day and blamed Dubya.

I guess it’s a problem when only now do 51 percent of Americans understand that the Democrats have been in control of Congress since 2006. Not only have they failed to follow through on their promises, but they also have a worse approval rating than (gasp!) George Bush. In fact, they have the worst approval rating in the history of Congress. But what did this country decide to do? We decided to vote in more Democrats.

It’s a tough pill to swallow at the moment, but the GOP will be back, quite possibly sooner than most think. Mr. Obama deserves no free pass, but the media in this country will most likely give him one since he has inherited the current state of affairs. In fact, he has recently tempered his own expectations by stating that he will no longer be able to follow through with many of his original plans. How noble! I guess there is a limit on idealism. But then again, it’s only because George Bush messed everything up.

In the end I hope Mr. Obama takes one lesson that his party’s presidential predecessor, President Clinton, learned the hard way during the first couple of years of his presidency, which is that this country is still a center-right country. Mr. Clinton learned that too late as the Republicans took over Congress two years into his presidency. He was forced to move to the middle and hung there for six years.

The country is currently drunk on Mr. Obama’s Kool-Aid, but even the recent win by the Democrats does not prevent the country from having an affinity to the center-right. First of all, Senator McCain won 46-47 percent of the popular vote in a year that the GOP brand name has been beaten, battered and tossed to the wolves. No matter how you look at it, it is an impressive number. It was not the runaway election that many political pundits thought. That means something.

Furthermore, the filibuster-proof Senate looks to be avoided, and Al Franken’s political aspirations look cloudy at best. But with regards to social issues, there is one major vote that is being overlooked by the historical context of the election. That vote was Prop 8, or the ban of same-sex marriage in the blue state of California, which passed 52 percent to 48 percent, overturning the spring ruling and restoring the sanctity of marriage. As expected, Civil Rights groups are already challenging the ruling by refusing to concede the vote of the people.

The GOP brand name is still alive and well. Even Thomas Frank, a left-wing journalist from the Wall Street Journal, agrees with me in his latest article-albeit for different reasons. I am not afraid to point out that the GOP brand needs to be tweaked and spun in favor of “newer” and “younger” and “fresher.” That new image must start today. Party leadership should have nothing on its mind but the upcoming elections in 2010 and 2012. Here’s a starting point and some food for thought for Chairman Duncan: Jindal-Pawlenty in 2012?

Despite the fact that Mr. Obama and I share almost nothing in common in terms of our policy beliefs, it is in our country’s interest-and no, I’m not excluding you, fellow Republicans-that we all give him every chance to lead this country and right our ship. But unlike a majority of the media in this country, he won’t be receiving any free passes from me.