I guess it goes without saying that I am thrilled at the outcome of the election. The GOP has gained in the Senate, in the House, and has elected a president with over 50 percent of the vote. Not only did we win, we won bucking the trend of increased turnout. As Jon Stewart put it, “From now on, whenever you hear a Democrat say ‘let every vote count,’ go – ‘we tried that.'” Or, as a conservative commentator put it, “Take that, conventional wisdom!” So, while I have been all smiles since I broke out the champagne at 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, I think it is time to pause and reflect on what this victory means – and where we should go from here.
And one aside before I really begin – we do possess a mandate. For all the Democrats’ whining about how Bush has to “reach out,” I suggest you refer to the Guardian of London. Even they state, “If this doesn’t add up to a mandate, it is hard to know what the word means. Increased turnout. Narrow but decisive wins on all fronts. What more can you ask for from a single campaign?” Well, I would argue we can ask for a lot.
Mandates are a tricky thing. But I think a clarification is in order. President George W. Bush is not assuming office with a mandate behind him. We the voters have given ourselves a mandate to demand that Bush and the GOP live up to the policies we voted them in on. Some would argue that is splitting hairs, but I think that’s a message that especially conservatives need to hear.
See, conservatives are sometimes an annoying bunch when it comes to electoral victories. Philosophically, we see government as mostly a necessary evil. While Democrats might sit on the edge of their seats watching C-Span to see what great new program is coming out of Washington, we’re more apt to be at a baseball game. Or at our place of worship. Or at a PTA meeting. Any number of activities of our “daily lives” that we consider far more important than what went on in Washington that day. One credit I’ll give to the Democrats is how hard they ride their leaders to toe the “party line” on issues. We could take a lesson in that.
An apt anecdote could come to us from antiquity. When a victorious Roman general would return to Rome there would be a grand parade. All of the slaves he had captured and the booty were paraded down the main streets of Rome to the cheers of the populace. The general himself would be given a great chariot, and the place of honor in this parade. However, a slave was given the right to go with the general during this triumphal parade and whisper, “all glory is fleeting.”
We should be gratified that we won, and won handily, but our struggle does not end now. As Senator John Edwards said during his “concession” speech – otherwise known as his first speech of the 2008 nomination fight – “We didn’t stop fighting for you when this campaign began and we won’t stop fighting for you when this campaign ends.” We need to keep up the fight as well.
I was gratified to see Bush state that he now possesses political capital, and intends to spend it. His policies and principles have been put into office through our votes, and we need to make sure that he knows we want him to see these policies through.
I’m already happy to see that conservatives are taking the fight to Senator Arlen Specter for his words about the Supreme Court. After our victory it was odd to see Senator Specter attempt to “warn” the president about who he should send before the Judicial Committee.
This from a man who owes his survival in a primary to Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Yet, rather than simply letting this go, many conservatives have been bombarding the White House and Senate offices with requests to bar him from a chairmanship.
Though I fully admit here that I am among those thousands, I am truly shocked that conservatives are remaining this active and galvanized. It might be that the greatest effect of this mandate is that conservatives remain focused on our mandate and, to take a page from the Democrats, really hound our representatives to do what they promised.
So I say to my fellow victors – do not rest on your laurels, fight and achieve what we have voted for. I say to my fellow victors – fight for tax simplification, for social security reform, for all the policies we voted on. So I say to my fellow victors – all glory is fleeting.
Clemm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.