Calvin Freiburger

A Potential Roadblock to Conservative Victory

Posted on March 30 2010 5:47 pm
Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College. He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.
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Today on National Review Online, Sean Hannity delivers a thumbnail sketch of his latest book’s thesis—“The American people have woken up to President Obama’s true agenda. It’s up to the GOP to make the most of it”:

No president in the history of modern polling has lost so much support in so short a period of time as Barack Obama. Most of his policies are deeply unpopular — and the most unpopular policy of all is his signature domestic initiative, health care. Mr. Obama’s party has suffered serious losses in key races in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. The GOP is now ahead on the congressional generic ballot, which is almost unheard of, even in elections in which Republicans wind up doing well. As a result, non-partisan political experts now say that the conditions are in place for a punishing and potentially power-changing defeat for Democrats in November.

Yet Mr. Obama is unmoved by any of this. He continues to push his agenda over the objections of the people, determined as ever to transform American society, to remake it into his own liberal image.

In the face of this, the Republican party — which in recent years had lost its way — is returning to first principles. Republicans opposed the stimulus bill last year — and every GOP member of Congress voted against Obamacare. Republicans and conservatives are offering an alternative to Mr. Obama: limited government and liberty. They are opposing the unprecedented power grab by Washington, as well as the “culture of corruption” that now characterizes the majority party. And as we saw during the health-care summit, they are offering specific, impressive proposals of their own.

Between now and November, the Republican party has to convince voters that it has returned to its conservative, Reaganite roots. That is where Americans are heading at lightning speed; the Republican party would be smart to get there as well.

Hannity is correct that, thanks to Obama’s tone-deaf, dogmatic conduct thus far, conditions are right for a major rightward shift on Capitol Hill, and there have been some encouraging signs of newfound Republican resolve.  But as I wrote last week, the jury’s still out on whether or not the GOP truly understand what victory will demand, and in addition to the problems we discussed then, there’s another potential roadblock on the horizon: immigration “reform,” which is expected to be next on the Democrats’ agenda (that is, assuming that promise doesn’t expire, too).

Given how decisively the American people rebelled against amnesty back when President George W. Bush proposed it, it’s tempting to think that tackling it on the heels of health care would be one overreach too many, guaranteeing defeat for the Left. Amnesty would certainly create a backlash against its supporters, but unlike ObamaCare, amnesty’s supporters would include several prominent conservatives and Republicans.  Absent a specific bill, we can’t be 100% certain who would side with Obama, but given their past records, possible defectors include 2008 presidential nominee John McCain, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. John Kyl, and numerous less-prominent lawmakers, as well as pundits like Michael Medved.  Even Gov. Sarah Palin and RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s positions are not entirely clear on the issue.

They key to victory will lie in the GOP’s ability to convince the American people that it listens to their voices and respects their concerns, which the Democrats most certainly do not.  If voters instead see a substantial portion of the party trying to foist upon them yet another “reform” boondoggle they’ve already rejected, so soon after ObamaCare, they may very well conclude that neither party is substantially more in touch or qualified to lead than the other, leading them to look instead to fringe dead-ends in desperation, and to doubt the urgency of ousting America’s current leadership.


Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College.  He also blogs at the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.

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