Georgia voters validated the Reaganite template for victory once again on December 2. In a runoff election for Senate, incumbent Saxby Chambliss won handily over Democrat challenger Jim Martin, with an advantage of nearly fifteen percent.
How could this be? Republicans, and particularly conservatives, we are incessantly told, have been politically exiled since 2006 and are in complete disrepute these days. More often than not, Chambliss is considered a reliable conservative. Worse yet, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, whom the media characterizes as a political pariah, vigorously and visibly supported him, especially in the last few days of his runoff campaign.
In contrast Barack Obama, fearing the symbolism of a public rebuke of his empty "change" rhetoric," never went to Georgia to campaign for Martin. Since Obama did not carry Georgia in the general election, the prospect of supporting a losing candidate posed a definite risk to the "messianic" facade that he has cultivated so meticulously during the past few years.
Instead, he once again essentially voted "present," producing a commercial or two on behalf of the Georgia Democrat while remaining safely outside of the state. But it is widely known that Obama, as well as the House and Senate Democrats in Washington, held out great hopes of the filibuster proof Senate majority that a Martin victory might have helped facilitate.
These unfolding events are confusing and inconsistent, at least to those who accept the opinions of the "mainstream" Democrat and Republican punditry. According to the "conventional wisdom" of Washington insiders from both parties, John McCain would have done better to ditch Sarah Palin whom they believed to be a drag on his ticket. But in a seemingly contradictory fashion, Chambliss involved Palin heavily, while McCain was only nominally visible. As a result, Chambliss won his race, and with a far wider margin than McCain accrued on Election Day.
Meanwhile, from token "Republican" David Brooks of the New York Times, to his ideological counterpart Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post, presumed experts on Republican Party strategy have been busily deriding Palin during and after the 2008 presidential campaign. Their verdict: Immediately expel her and her kind for the good of America and the party.
It is no surprise that Beltway Democrats would loudly promote a losing Republican "strategy" of watering-down and ultimately abandoning conservatism, since such a tack can only improve Democrat fortunes. But it is somewhat puzzling that "Republican" political hacks would journey down the same path.
In complete defiance of their "wisdom," both prior to November fourth, as well as during the Georgia contest of the past few days, Palin attracted far larger and more enthusiastic crowds than Chambliss could ever have acquired on his own. Few among the political mainstream would dare suggest a comparable public reaction, had Vice-President elect Joe Biden, the candidate of the winning Democrat ticket, attempted a similar campaign stump for Martin.
Such an exuberant response to the losing vice-presidential candidate would, according the D.C. wizards, seem totally contradictory to their regular forecasts of what America wants. In the wake of each Republican setback the "experts" incessantly advocate "moderation" and "moving to the political center." Yet it is they, and not the straightforward conservatism of the Chambliss campaign, who have been consistently wrong for over three decades.
In the aftermath of the presidential election, McCain staffers leaked derogatory stories about Governor Palin, in a transparent effort to derail any political future to which she might aspire. Yet the reality is that her antagonists were revealing much more about themselves, and the fatal flaws of the McCain political apparatus, than they were about the conservatism of Sarah Palin.
Noisy declarations of the "need" for the GOP to eject its conservative element, and in particular the maligned "religious right," predictably erupt after every election in which Republicans lose ground. Yet these are regularly contradicted by events such as the December 2 election in Georgia, where both conservatism and the issues of importance to the Evangelicals with whom Palin is closely identified, were forthrightly validated.
By providing the contrast necessary to delineate between traditional Republicans and Democrats, Palin generated an enthusiasm for the McCain ticket that had been completely absent prior to the announcement of her as his running mate. And while her presence on the ticket was not sufficient to neutralize voter disillusionment with McCain, she unquestionably displayed the ability to enhance the standing of an established conservative like Chambliss.
This lesson, so crucial to the future of the GOP, needs to be grasped and learned once and for all. Conservatism, real conservatism, resonates with heartland America, and wins elections. The people of this country have little interest in a Republican party that seeks to define itself as a milder and cheaper version of the societal dissolution and erosion of American greatness offered by the opposition. If voters really want that, they can get it in its undiluted form from the Democrats.
Saxby Chambliss correctly grasps the situation, crediting Palin as the individual whose support and involvement "fired up" the base. He further admonished recalcitrant Republican "moderates" of the need for the GOP to return to "those basic core values" of Reagan conservatism.
In Georgia at least, Chambliss restored the traditionally conservative image of the GOP, thus cementing a resounding victory. And no amount of biased media coverage, contrived financial calamity, or voter fraud from ACORN could derail his effort. The viability of the Republican Party depends on its willingness to adopt this approach to modern politics as the key to its future.
Copyright ©2008 Christopher G. Adamo