Beyond the spin, a conservative nation still remains

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

The Democrats are coming! The Democrats are coming! Is it possible that the United States, after voting conservative in 2000, 2002, and 2004, suddenly took a hard turn to the left? The spin on these past midterm elections is composed mainly of the misconception that the United States has become increasingly liberal. While Republicans did lose, this switchover in Congress was a result of conservative backlash over a Republican failure to stick to their conservative principles.

This was an in-house clean-up, not a blue tsunami.

The Democrats did a great job of creating media-led emotional banter and getting out the vote in higher numbers than usual. Yet turnout alone never fully explains Democratic victories.

When Republicans lose, it is not because of higher liberal turnout, but due to a Republican failure to convince the base that they represent, and have acted on behalf of, core conservative values. These values are (and continue to be) fiscal conservativism, small government, the preservation of the family, border control, a strong military, and steadfast conservative leadership. When Republican leadership violates these principles as they have in recent years, the base first warns them, next demands action, and finally kicks them out if their calls for action go unheeded.

Republicans run on principles, and are accordingly held to those very principles by the base.

There was, and remains, an entire faction of the Republican base — the true conservatives — that has been hung out to dry over the past six years on almost every issue outside of the judiciary and the war on terror. Bush’s insane desire for amnesty for illegal immigrants, the runaway Congressional spending, and the failure to deliver decisive, punishing victory over our enemies in Iraq are responsible for turnover produced by the conservative base. In the 2006 midterm elections, the administration’s continued snubbing of the base led to wider than expected losses across the board for Republicans.

The unhappiness with the incumbency disorder that afflicted Republicans over the past six years caused the true base to turn incumbents out, while still protecting conservative values through referenda and other ballot measures. Completely unknown to the party-line-only, no-room-for-debate liberals, there occurred a bout of intellectual honesty within the Republican Party which had the unfortunate repercussion of installing a socialist into House leadership, in the form of prospective Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

The campaign that Pelosi and the liberal leadership orchestrated highlights another reason behind the continued existence of a conservative nation. Many of the newly elected Democrats ran on campaigns making them out to be more conservative than even their Republican opponents. The Democrats found moderate candidates, often social conservatives or former servicemen (and women), who for one reason or another were willing to run under the Democratic banner.

Heath Shuler is an example of a social conservative running, and winning, under the Democratic banner. Another example is the apparent win of Harry Mitchell over J.D. Hayworth in Arizona’s fifth Congressional district. Mitchell’s campaign depicted himself as an even stronger opponent of amnesty than the incumbent Hayworth. Senator-elect James Webb in Virginia is another example of the approach to reduce the outward appearance of liberalism of the Democratic Party in a bid to secure power in Washington.

Make no mistake: The Republicans suffered widespread losses due to punishment by conservative core value voters, not some spread of national liberalism.

This country is not liberal. If you turn on the dinosaur media (thanks Laura Ingraham), the action line is that the country has made a hard left turn. Wrong. The disparity among the many conservative ballot measures that passed and the GOP incumbents that were not returned to office fleshes out the realization that the majority of the country retains conservative core values while attempting to punish a party that violated its principles.

Take the example of Virginia. The voters of Virginia passed Ballot Question 1, a measure that proposed an amendment to Virginia Constitution defining marriage as a contract between one man and one woman, by a 14-point margin. That strong conservative showing took place while incumbent Republican Senator Allen lost by a razor-thin margin of less than 1 percent to moderate Democratic challenger Senator-elect Webb. Here, the base turned out, supported conservative values, but did not support their incumbent. The upholding of marriage as a union between a man and a woman passed in nearly every state — including Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennesee (81–19 percent), and Wisconsin — with the exception of Arizona, where it failed 49–51.

There are countless other examples of conservative values being upheld nationwide from these most recent midterm elections. Take the example of Michigan. Three years ago, a pre-Roberts U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of the University of Michigan’s affirmative action program in a 5–4 decision. However, the people of Michigan decided that the courts did not speak for them when the voters acted in restricting and removing affirmative action by a 16-point margin. In Arizona, English as the official language triumphed 74–26 percent, while incumbent Republican Hayworth lost a close race. Again, the conservative base upheld their values, while punishing a Congress they viewed as having let them down on principle.

While all true conservatives are saddened by the loss of a few true statesmen such as Allen, Hayworth, Santorum, and Steele, do not let the big lie of increasing national liberalism take hold. This conservative market correction provides an opportunity for Republicans to reconsider, and acknowledge, the people that swept them into office in 1994, and for the GOP to regroup and get back on message. Republicans acted like Democrats and they lost. That is a lesson the GOP leadership should not soon forget.