As the aftershocks of the election begin to fade, now is the time to calmly sift through the issues that concern Americans and offer conservative solutions to them. You'll notice I didn't say 'Republican' solutions. Conservatism, the political philosophy that prioritizes individual liberty within a society that respects law and tradition is a winning approach when it is taught. A country that submits to the seductions of the left won't be receptive to conservatism regardless of how eloquent we are. We have to live, teach and govern with these principles foremost everyday. Conservatism in action. That's why I think that the Republican Party's future lies in its governors. Fashioning a strategy that will begin the long road back to relevance is our most important job now.
There are many voices vying for influence as Republicans ponder over the wreckage. This morning moderate Republicans Christine Todd Whitman and Robert Bostock have written a column claiming that the party has been "taken hostage" by social fundamentalists, and so we've lost forever the American 'middle.' Their solution is to abandon social conservatism as a hopeless cause and fall in line with the leftward devolution the country voted for. Not only is this line of thinking wrong - it's irresponsible. Political power shifts between the ideological poles as the nation endures new challenges. Ten years ago we were talking about the Republicans running the country for a generation or more, but a caving economy, an unpopular president and a wayward party have undermined all of our grand plans. To blame our failure on social conservatives is shortsighted and reactionary, and abandoning traditional mores for the fickle notions of 'progress' would be like abandoning the gates guarding civilization from humanity's unrestrained urges and appetites. Conservatism is the ego to society's id. We retreat at our own peril.
We must not over-react to the political fortunes suffered now - it must only serve to focus our minds on what must be done. Here is a list of what voters considered most compelling in this 2008 election, as polled by Rasmussen:
- Ethics & corruption
- National security
- Health care
- Social Security
Our economy, the most dynamic in the world, needs immigrants. These travelers, often coming from countries where freedom is rare and opportunity rarer still, hold values that reflect a passion for American ideals that many of our own citizens take for granted. The Koreans that open businesses, the Hispanics that work in agriculture, the Eastern Asians that come for high tech employment are assets to our economy and our culture. Republicans ought to call for increased legal immigration not only as a recognition of the value of the immigrant and the needs of our economy, but as a response to the unfair demonization by Democrats that we are racists. The Republican party is not hostile territory to new Americans, in fact, unlike Democrats we understand the power of freedom and personal initiative and support a system that fosters and rewards it. Those traditional values held by immigrants of hard work, religious devotion, pro-life and pro-family are values we have been fighting for. We have more in common with the idealistic newcomer who has left home for a country they have only dreamed about. We champion the courage and motivation that propels the best and the brightest to cross oceans and mountains to come here seeking safety and economic security. We are the party of small business, and of capitalism, and of trade and commerce with the world. We are the party of opportunity for all Americans, those here and those yet to come.
But we are a party that respects law and order, and such a stand has been used to paint us as anti-immigrant. It's actually the exact opposite - respecting immigration laws make the immigrant more valuable, the country more safe, the economy more responsive and rewarding. There is no justice in denying the legal immigrant who has followed the law while throwing open the doors to the nameless immigrant who undercuts wages and endangers our health. Secure borders protect this country and compliment the immigrant we welcome as worthy of the priviledge we have offered.
Nothing here is new, I understand. But here is where it gets controversial - those on the right who demand we shut down legal immigration must be challenged - immigrants are not the problem, in fact, they're in many ways the solutions to some of the failures and weaknesses that are undermining the traditional values America must protect in order to thrive. American culture is strong enough to absorb new immigrants and turn them into America loving patriots, and the journey is shorter to support of Republican principles than it is to Democratic seductions of paternalism and multiculturalism. If our immigrants wanted to remain Korean, they would have stayed in Korea. New immigrants are naturally conservative, and ought to be a natural fit for our party. Those that fear these new faces as a challenge to America are not defending conservatism, they are marginalizing it. There is no good reason to be insecure about America and her ideals. These ideals are sought after by like minded people who seek freedom and prosperity, which in turn makes us stronger.
The face of America is changing, but the values and ideals that make her the beacon of hope she is to billions around the world are not. This country offers a built in advantage to Republicans - we remain the only party that supports the social conservatism found throughout the immigrant community. We also recognize what makes this country so successful, and our mission must be to teach the generations that follow what has made us the greatest nation on earth: free enterprise and social conservatism.