With a recent Gallup poll showing that conservatives outnumber liberals in every state, even the President’s Illinois and socialist Bernie Sanders’ Vermont, it is clear, to paraphrase Mark Twain, that reports of the death of the conservative movement are premature.
And while some may say we need a leader to begin anew, the signs of the revitalization of conservatism are everywhere. Many (if not most) of those gathering in public squares and congressional town halls to take issue with the Democrats’ proposed health care overhaul may not identify as conservatives. But, by the very questions they raise, they stand up for a basic tenet of American conservatism: distrust of big government.
Poll after poll show the American people continue to oppose ever increasing government spending, with a July Gallup survey showing that the primary reason for “disapproval of the president’s economic policies was, literally, ‘spending too much.’” In short, conservative ideas continue to resonate. We don’t need a leader to galvanize our base (but we will need leaders to defeat increasingly unpopular spendthrift Democratic politicians).
That the issues continue to rally the right (that Gallup survey showed that 65% of those who disapproved of Obama did so because of issues*) shows the contrast between the revitalized conservative movement and the fading appeal of the movement which propelled the President to power. Obama’s movement was little more than a personality cult built on his image. The “Tea Parties” and the spontaneous expressions of opposition to Obamacare grow out of an idea, the same one that motivated patriots in thirteen British colonies to take first to the streets and harbors, then to arms, in the 1770s: freedom.
In recent years, the left was first united in opposition to George W. Bush, then in support of his successor. We conservatives (and libertarians) have long been drawn to an idea. Had George W. Bush and congressional Republicans understood the importance of small-government principles to their conservative base, the former may have left office with higher approval ratings and many of the latter might still be in office.
*Whereas only 17% of those who approved his performance cited “issues” as the reason for their support.