Anything You Can Do, We’ll Oppose Later

Sometimes I wonder if Republicans have a platform of their own. Obama says, “You didn’t build that,” so the 2012 RNC chooses “We Built It” as their slogan. Democrats have gone officially godless, so the Republicans will probably dust off more of their “laws of nature and nature’s God” rhetoric. I’m not saying that any of these things is intrinsically bad. It’s just hard to say if they really believe this stuff, or if it’s just convenient to keep the votes coming in. I’m also tired of the Democratic Party setting the tone for this country, even when, maybe even especially when, their agenda is failing.

This year’s election is going to be about how bad Obama has been. He’ll probably be booted. And he should be. He’s a terrible president. But I think most of us are overlooking the fact that we don’t really know what Obama’s replacement actually wants to do. Stated positively. Because most of what we’ve heard is how he’s going to repeal and replace… all of Obama’s policies.

Perhaps this is the problem with being conservative. The very definition of the word implies you are working to maintain what’s already there. A conservative works to conserve the status quo. This is not a bad thing necessarily: it implies humility. We don’t know what will work if it hasn’t been tried. We know only what has worked. So conserving what has worked against possibly catastrophic political experiments is good, especially at the national level. But conservatism in a federal republic works much better than it does in a party-driven democracy. Because conservatism doesn’t ultimately have any immovable values. It tries to keep things the way they are. And if there are constant forces pushing the country further in an evil direction, the conservatives only have a short time to push it back before the new evil becomes the new status quo.

So what we have is the stair-stepped creep of liberal socialism. Because leftists are really the ones setting the agenda. They push the envelope into catastrophic experimental territory. We try to pull back. But the next time around, the status quo has changed. Think about abortion. Romney gives exceptions for abortions in the case of incest, rape, and the life of the mother. Most Republicans allow these exceptions. But before abortion was part of the status quo, conservatives did not allow for any exceptions because they didn’t want to allow abortion a foot in the door. It’s already here now, though, so… And what about Social Security? When it was introduced by FDR, conservatives considered it a socialist abomination. Now we think, “I’ve been paying into it my whole life; I should get my money back.” And you would, if Social Security weren’t just another tax the civil government has already spent on who knows whatever. But it’s already here now, so…

Unless conservatives can set the agenda by positively stating a platform of beliefs from which they will not waver, they are always going to be playing a losing game of catch-up with the Democratic Party. I know this election is all about the failures of Obama’s presidency (and there are plenty to choose from). But we all already know that. It’s easy to look like the better option when you’re running against a jerk. So I don’t want to know how the Republican Party is better… that means almost nothing. No, I want to know how it is good. I don’t want to know only what Republicans stand against. I want to know what exactly they stand for.