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Dash of Pepper

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The loyal opposition-now needed more than ever
By SHEILAH PEPPER
The Gazette Staff
The election of Barack Obama has made history. He and his campaign team deserve praise for a cleverly run, almost seamless campaign. Right at the outset, his campaign stymied two of the smartest operatives in American politics, Bill and Hillary Clinton.
John McCain and Sarah Palin did not have the wind are their backs. The Republicans were hammered almost simultaneously by the housing slump, and the financial crisis. Progress is Iraq was eclipsed by the economic news. Also, candidly, there was evidence of incompetence both within the McCain campaign and the GOP itself.
Some pessimists are saying that we are now at a point at which America is joining the Europeans as a center-left society. Columnist Mark Steyn put it this way: We are now "a society whose assumptions about the role of government and the size of the state are far closer to the Continental social democracies than to the Founding Fathers."
Steyn concludes with this question: "Will there be a loyal opposition or will American conservatism fade to one of those mildly right-of-center parties they have in Europe?"
Conservatives were hostage to the fate of the party that carried their banner. It remains for conservatives to continue the fight for basic principles such as the free market and respect for life.
However, the conservative agenda will now need to be framed in a wider context - one that speaks to the everyday kitchen table issues confronting the average family. Those on the Right will need to get in synch with the customs and traditions of a highly diverse population, rather than rely on rather abstract ideas to carry them through. Most folks don't vote for ideas. The charge of socialism didn't stick to Obama, partly due to his own charisma and partly due to the fact that the times were ripe for change, and people didn't much care what kind of change they might get.
However, the blowout expected for Democrats in the Senate didn't really materialize. As I write this, they still don't have the filibuster-proof magic number of sixty seats. A loyal opposition may be able to make its presence felt.
I prefer to see the glass as half full. Rather than seeing us as quasi-Eurostyle wussies, we need to remind ourselves that Obama was forced to run to the Right. This is still, I believe, a center-right nation.
It remains to be seen if the president-elect will remain in the center or veer sharply left. It he does go left, the loyal opposition will need to stand strong and hold his feet to the fire.
Copyright©2008SheilahPepper
Last Updated on Friday, 12 June 2009 14:26  

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