By Chris Herzberger
So what is a conservative to do?
It was a beautiful image, the Obamas standing on stage together, and I wouldn’t ever dream of belittling the reconciliatory implications of this historic event. I am proud to have witnessed it, proud to have been a part of the electoral process, and absolutely proud to be an American today.
But what is a conservative to do?
Many of us around the country stand in doubt and in fear today. Fear that the most liberal President-elect in modern political history will take us further to the left on issues from abortion to taxation than we could have ever imagined possible. Fear that the Democrat majorities in the Senate and the House will result in an America that we can’t even fathom to be our own because the very social values it has adopted are not at all like ours. Fear that the Supreme Court will be lost to activist judges for an entire generation, putting issues we hold dear to our families and our faith in the hands of those seeking to push radical agendas based on feeling, not the Constitution. And fear that the America we long for our children to experience will be nothing more than a lasting wish and a quiet reminder of what should have been.
So what is a conservative to do?
Stand up. Get on our feet. Bounce back. And do what we have always done in the moments we have succeeded most; tell the truth.
It would be easy to believe that the movement is over. That conservatism is dead. It would be easy to believe, in the face of this historic wind, that the best thing to do now is to set aside our beliefs and concede to Barack Obama’s vision of the country.
But we have seen his vision of the country. We have seen past the words. We have seen past the rhetoric. And we refuse to give in. We want hope and unity and prosperity and peace and compassion as much as anyone else. But we stand firm in our belief that hope and unity come not from equal concessions, but from common convictions, and prosperity not from handouts, but from work and opportunity. We believe that peace is not simply the absence of war, and believe that compassion is what we do for each other as individuals, not what we have the government do in our stead.
So stand up. Get on your feet. Bounce back. And do what you have always done in the moments you have succeeded most; tell the truth.
Tomorrow brings change, yes. Tomorrow brings history, yes. Tomorrow brings great excitement over barriers that have been broken and a page that has been turned. But we must look closer, because there is more to history than feeling, and there is more to good results than good intentions.
There are times to stand together on policies that are indisputably American and there are times to stand strong against the new establishment and make your voices known. We must not be afraid, we must not be intimidated, and we must not forget what we know to be true. In the face of enthusiasm for an exciting, young leader, we must not allow what is best for this country to lose way to what is merely ‘change’ for this country. My fellow conservatives, today we must stand up and declare that over the next four years we won’t be silenced. We won’t be still.
The insecure will seek to limit free speech in the form of government regulations, a “fairness doctrine,” which is itself an attack on fairness. But we won’t be silenced. We won’t be still.
The deceptive and the dishonest will seek to extinguish dissenters like Joe Wurzelbacher and Barbara West by invalidating their concerns through destruction of character. But we won’t be silenced. And we won’t be still.
The dreamers will be told a dream must have common boundaries, because a dream too far, a dream too loud leaves too many behind; so dream a little smaller, dream a little fairer, dream a little softer, don’t step out of line, that makes you selfish. But guilt by false implication will never prevail. We won’t be silenced. We won’t be still.
The promise of hope is easy; but we must deliver the innovation. The talk of change is simplistic; let’s rise to the occasion and make things right. The goal of bipartisanship is noble; but by winning the heart of the challenger, not surrendering to the challenge.
What we believe in; what we know to be right, and true, and noble, and worthy, will always be the single best hope for a future that reflects who we are and where we come from and how we came to be.
We will be told our conservative values and ideals are dead and that our thinking is no longer relevant. We will be told that in a country seeking to progress we represent the failed past of a day less enlightened. We will be told that to stand unwavering on the things we deem imperative is a selfish roadblock against the tide of tomorrow; the wave of history. But we know better. Because the tide will rise and the tide will fall. The waves will be violent but find peace once again. And then what we have left, after this new search for fulfillment in the form of revolution, are simple truths that can weather any storm. Dignity. Respect. Confidence. Honor. Faith. Family. Peace. Love. Compassion. Understanding. Independence. Trust. And the belief that each and every human being on the face of this miracle we live on can and must do wonderful, amazing things by the splendor of their God given magnificence.
Today, we must stand up together as the party of Ronald Reagan and say we are better than what we have been. We are more than what we have shown. We must believe the things we defend and we must fight for those beliefs. We are the party that should inspire. We are the party that should unite, because we are the party that represents what is best for our communities and our children and our freedoms and our opportunities. The task is simple: offer our principles, communicate them in a way technologically reflective of the times and offer the basic message of small government, personal responsibility, family values, and opportunity without restriction. Our ideas are right. Our ideas are best. And if we can learn to live in step unashamedly with the words we speak, then we will succeed in demonstrating to a hungry culture that we do indeed have something remarkable to offer.
The past two years of campaigning were consumed by our opponents doing whatever it took to tear down George Bush and the Republican Party, in any opportunity, no matter the implication, no matter how vicious, no matter how unfair. An America that was united and believed in itself was never to our opponent’s benefit, so they sought to convince you and me that the belief in here and now was embarrassingly unjustified. That nothing good could ever come about until Bush was gone and the Republicans had lost.
But as we go forward, remember that we are better than that. We must never play games with our confidence in this country in order to win elections and get more power; not in 2010, not in 2012, not ever. We don’t have to. The belief in our country and our pride as Americans should never be based on a leader or a party or the state of our economy or the reputation we carry around the world. It should be based on the simple fact that over 200 years ago, men stood together and said, “We won’t be silenced. We won’t be still.” These are things we understand and things we respect, but things we have inexcusably forgotten.
Today, we begin anew. Today, we begin to heal. We offer our support and best wishes to the new administration and the Democratic Congress, but vow to stand firm in our beliefs and show confidence in our ideals. No pressure can stop us. No rhetoric can distract us. The American people are searching for something to give them hope and give them confidence.
Let’s show it to them.