As Obama’s presidency slides further into the gutters of time with each passing day, a lot of the people who bought into his “hope and change” rhetoric feel like they were misled. In the heady days of the 2008 election, the guy (to liberals, at least) seemed like he stepped off the pages of an inspirational novel. Charismatic, good looking, and black – he was the whole package, ready to take America into a grand new age.
Why wouldn’t they be disappointed? Conservatives knew the deal from the get-go, but independents and liberals were taken aback by the president’s ineffectiveness. What’s all this business about the NSA? What’s this about keeping Guantanamo open? We thought you were going to push for universal healthcare? Why is your Justice Department still prosecuting people under federal marijuana laws? Some of these things Obama didn’t even promise. The people who voted for him saw a blank canvas of “hope and change” and upon that canvas they drew their expectations.
The Populist Phenomenon
This isn’t something only Barack Obama devotees are susceptible to. It’s a phenomenon that can take hold of anyone, given the right set of circumstances. Some bright young Republican comes out of the woodwork, saying all the right stuff about America, the Founding Fathers, cutting taxes, individualism, and it’s easy to lose perspective. I’m not saying we have to lower our expectations, but…we have to change our expectations.
When it comes to finding someone to represent the GOP in 2016, we should be looking for a candidate who brings a record of strong conservative values to the table. A legislative record, not just big talk. Would it be nice to have someone with plenty of charisma and a “presidential” look? Sure. And we should look for that, because those things play as much a part of modern politics as substance, if not more. But we cannot become so consumed with image that we forget what’s beneath the surface.
Truthfully, even the best Republican will not transform the country should he take office in 2016. Yes, he may have some better economic ideas than the current administration and he will almost certainly do a better job when it comes to national security. But too many people on both sides of the political spectrum pretend like Washington has this huge influence on the state of their lives. This is okay for a liberal to believe – their whole philosophy is based around what government can do for them. It’s not okay for a conservative to blame one political party or another for his or her failings in life.
We need someone reliable and honorable for 2016, but we don’t need a miracle worker. We don’t need an American messiah. We need someone who can keep this country from sliding further to the left, someone who will cut some of this regulation, and someone who will protect the country from outside harm. We don’t need someone who promises to make every American’s life better. That’s not the role of the president and it’s not the role of Congress. It’s the role of the individual, and you can do it no matter who’s in Washington. That’s the real beauty of conservatism. The rest is just…politics.