President Obama winning a second term is the biggest, most important win in decades for a group that desperately needed it. The type of group that had been downtrodden, beaten to a pulp by their leaders and needed that one sign to say it was time for hope and change. The type of people who for so long didn’t have a voice because of media outlets like FOX News and A.M. radio.
This election surprised some with how close it wasn’t. The nation rejected Mitt Romney and the Republican Party in a pretty big way. When that happens, the losing side always tries to figure out what went wrong and who to blame. Some say it was Hurricane Sandy, others that Romney needed to get into more details about his economic plan. Neither of these answers are probably right, at least not enough that it swung the pendulum so far to the left. No, a gap this big means one thing: people just don’t like Republicans anymore.
To be more accurate, the American people have voiced their distaste at a certain wing of the Republican Party: the Neoconservatives. These are the men that rose to power with George W. Bush. For the Neocons, it wasn’t about fiscal conservatism and keeping government to a minimal state, regardless of what their political ads said. Their purpose was to preach social conservatism in a time of change, and military intervention in a time of fear. For them, the road to success was paved in opposing gay marriage and abortion. This was the Baby Boomer Party; placating to the middle class by reminding them of a time when being middle class was actually a good thing. The Neocons reminded people of the good ol’ days by representing “values” that were mainstream in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Actual conservatism, in the fiscal sense, was pushed behind a veil of fear. Who could worry about military spending when the gays were on parade?
The ringleader of this wing was Karl Rove, the Bush Jr. Chief of Staff who masterminded this whole shift in political thinking. To give the guy credit, he was successful.* But nothing symbolizes the fall of the Neocon movement more than what happened on FOX News on election night. There, as President Obama was on his way to a second term – and the network itself had even called it so – Rove stood there visibly shaken, trying to come up with any kind of excuse or possibility that Mitt Romney could somehow make a comeback. There, as the whole world was watching President Obama clean up the electoral vote, stood a Ghost of Political Past trying to change the inevitable future.
*Well, Al Gore might have something to say about that.
This is what true conservatives need to distance themselves from. The Neoconservative model is not fiscally responsible. In fact, two of the major differences between Romney and the President are military spending and funding space exploration, both of which Romney falls on the side of adding to the debt. Yet, Romney was a moderate Republican in the way you have to be to get elected, so he was forced to take the 19th century side of a 21st century debate. He had to appeal to the “common man”, and to achieve this Romney had to take a hard stance against gay marriage and blast the “47%”, or in other words, convince middle-America that leaches were draining the country of its wealth. The problem with this is that as the economy dwindles, more and more Americans are finding themselves in that lower-middle class bracket, and the only comfort they find night after night is the laughs that the gay couple from “Modern Family” gives them.
The Rush Limbaughs and Ann Coulters of the world need to be shunned. The day after the election, conservative radio was asking why they came off as the party that hated minorities. “We have more Hispanics in office than the Democrats!” was the common phrase that I heard. Limbaugh repeatedly asked the question, “Why is putting people up like Marco Rubio not working?” And that’s where the disconnect starts. Having dark-faced representation doesn’t mean you are hip with the times. Men like Limbaugh want it to be the 1950s all over again – and say as much – while forgetting that unless you were a white man, the middle of the 20th century really, really sucked. The values men like him represent are values that the people of today completely reject. That’s why minorities don’t vote Republican. That’s why women were scared to death of Todd Akin.
I understand why the Baby Boomer Party is still trying to hold on to these ideals, but times have changed. Think about it this way: Rob Zombie is 47 years old. The men and women who grew up knowing outward racism and gender inequality are old and dying. The biggest voting block of the nation thinks about things differently than the Karl Roves of the world. People like Donald Trump and Victoria Jackson tried to revitalize their careers by regurgitating Rove’s rhetoric, and find themselves as cartoons being laughed at by the majority of the American population. It’s a new America, and this America is legalizing drugs and shutting out the new breeds of neoconservatism like Paul Ryan.
Conservatism needs to stop being social and get back to the roots of the Republican Party: shrinking government. You can’t do that while inflating military costs. You can’t focus your attentions to replacing space funds with educational resources when you’re worrying about getting the rah-rah Joe American all riled up. You have to work. You have to stop accepting lobbying interests who will force you to spend on them. If America gets a party that is fiscally responsible while embracing the social changes going on today, then that party will find themselves controlling the Oval Office in 2016.