In from the cold -- finally?
By E. Ralph Hostetter
A major shift in American politics apparently has occurred, perhaps marking the greatest change from liberalism to conservatism since the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Some 16 Gallup polls conducted from January to September 2009 show 40% of U.S. citizens now describe their political ideology as conservative, a shift from 2005 to 2008, when moderates weighed in as nearly even with conservatives. Today's figures show conservatives at 40%, moderates at 36% and liberals at 20%.
With conservatives and moderates taken together at 76 %, slightly over three-quarters of the Nation identifies itself as an electorate that has made a major move to the right, leaving liberals at 20 % of the voting public - indicating liberals also may be tiring of giving away other people's money.
These Gallup polls surveyed a larger than normal number, with a margin of error said to be one percentage point.
Pollsters, political pundits and disappointed liberals search for answers to the political problems of the day. Some Americans are becoming more introspective. As they search within themselves for answers, it becomes more obvious every day that government does not provide all the answers for the culture and the economy.
This was the great lesson learned during the James E. (Jimmy) Carter Presidency: More government was not the be-all, end-all, for the needs of the Nation. Carter's Administration left the nation in a malaise, a vague feeling of uneasiness, showing Americans once again more government was not the answer. In retrospect, the Carter Administration was necessary. It brought the Nation to the realization that it was adrift and that it needed an abrupt change in direction if it were to continue on the time-honored course of the American Dream. President Ronald W. Reagan brought back that American Dream by gifting America with his philosophy describing America as "the Shining City on the Hill." President Carter was very necessary at the time. His misguided administration led the nation to elect Reagan as President.
America finds itself at such a juncture today. The electorate has mistaken charisma for character in electing President Barack H. Obama. In addition, the Federal Government is completely controlled today by one party. A 60-vote majority in the Senate gives the Democrats a veto-proof national legislature. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Harry M. Reid (D-NV) have a firm grip on Congress and President Obama controls the Executive Branch. While the situation may seem dire for American conservatives, it is essentially where America was during the Carter Administration.
The Administration is overplaying its hand and citizens are beginning to realize this. It becomes more and more obvious the U.S. economy is slipping into a deeper recession and that the excessive debt the Administration is accumulating through massive deficit spending added to the massive debt created by various stimulus plans have failed to stimulate job growth as promised.
The present economic downturn and massive unemployment may well turn for the better with this sudden surge of conservatism in America. Just as Carter brought us Reagan, Obama may well bring the Nation a conservative president in the Reagan mold. In the 1980s Reagan solidified conservative strength in the Nation as American morals were breaking down and the economy faced a serious downturn. He brought the Nation back to the "Shining City on the Hill," helped create 11 million new jobs and established the Reagan model, which has become the conservative standard of today.
The Obama Administration has over three years to run. There will be many discouraging days for conservatism but in the final analysis the true and strong American character, as it has since the Nation's earliest Colonial days, will prevail. Keep looking for that "Shining City on the Hill." It is still there, though it may be clouded by the fog of too much government today.
E. Ralph Hostetter, a prominent businessman and publisher, also is an award-winning columnist and Vice Chairman of the Free Congress Foundation Board of Directors. He welcomes e-mail comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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