Ten thousand pundits will Monday morning quarterback, telling everyone about the demise of conservatism, the free market, etc., and why the ideology McCain supposedly embraced is now forevermore in the dustbin of history. (I still hope for a Truman-Dewey moment, but I’m not holding my breath).
So, assuming the worst, why did McCain lose? Is “conservatism” now dead?
I attended both the McCain rally at Reed High and the Obama rally in Reno and, reflecting on the variance in the two crowds, the answer may be yes.
Why? It comes down to the birth rate. The crowd at Obama’s rally was multi-cultural and relatively young. McCain’s rally, by contrast, was almost all white and middle-aged or older.
Assuming that trend represents the future, the demographic shift we see so rapidly changing the makeup of Sparks and Nevada will also change the base for conservative ideology. In short, as the white race declines in population and continues to age, the percentage of voters who are “conservative” shrinks proportionately.
All is not doom and gloom, but the trend looks bad, no doubt about it.
The advantage conservatives now have is the rubber meets the road: “Change” and “hope” now meet the reality of governance. Absurd promises of a “tax cut for 95 percent of Americans” while promising free health care to everyone and other asinine statements for gullible voters will run into the ugly crunching of basic mathematics. Disillusioned millions expecting to somehow live for free off everyone “rich” — that mythical 5 percent of Americans — will grow angry when they still must actually work for a living.
It will also be interesting to see what percentage of the future majority race of America, Hispanics, voted for Obama. Though rarely mentioned in the liberal press since it conflicts with their fantasy of multi-racial harmony, Hispanics and blacks do not mix well at all. Any political marriage now is strictly an ad hoc arrangement. Unhampered by the liberal obsession with “white guilt,” Hispanics see blacks, from what I can tell, as at best pampered — a government-caused condition that will no doubt change quickly once they are running the show.
As the base of conservatism continues to shrink, the likelihood of forming a majority — a la 1980 Reagan — seems unlikely. A Russell Kirk/Bob Taft true conservative majority is really a fantasy. A more likely scenario is a spoiler role, as a strong plurality of mainly white Americans begins to see their influence diminish and an unfair burden of taxation shift onto their shoulders. A viable third party could become reality, assuming the GOP continues its left-wing slide.
Conservatism by its very nature plays a hold-back-the-tide role — trying to conserve traditional attitudes, values and constitutionally grounded throttles on government — are not typically rallying cries for generating mass voter hysteria. Liberalism (really socialism) has a distinct advantage, catering to the most ignorant voter, always with the magical bait of class warfare: “free” everything. Nor is this limited to socialistic Democrats. Desperate GOP officeholders jettisoned even a pretext of their alleged allegiance to conservatism to save whatever tokens of power they still held after the Bush fiascos. Case in point: The embarrassing new vote-buying gimmick, the “stimulus” handouts, is now eagerly embraced by both parties.
Truth is, John McCain is no conservative. His primary win showed the impotence and disillusionment of conservatism even before the Obama bandwagon got rolling. The brief window of the Sarah Palin selection being the lone exception, McCain has generated zero enthusiasm from the once-powerful but now fragmented conservative GOP base.
Obama on the other hand, with nearly no track record to get pinned to, has been everything to everyone. A combination of GOP discontent, an unpopular war, economic instability and a let’s-sit-this-one-out attitude among serious conservatives almost guarantees an anyone-but-the-incumbents victory. Few are voting “for” John McCain; almost all his support comes from voting against Barack Obama.
Now let the prophet Obama lead us to the promised land. Four years of wandering in a socialist wilderness may be just the medicine we need to rid us of quack cures and fantasy economics.
Ira Hansen is a lifelong resident of Sparks and owner of Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing.