I know that some will see this post as unnecessarily defeatist, since the election is still over two weeks away.
But as the latest polling data shows, it might be wise to start thinking about the possible ramifications of an Obama presidency, so that we can get a head start identifying those areas of our lives most likely to be impacted and positioning ourselves to defend our most important principles.
Now, some will point out that the polls are all over the place; one has Obama ahead only by two percentage points, while the infamous CBS/NYT poll puts it at fourteen, leading to suggestions that their polling agents might occasionally want to poll people outside their actual corporate headquarters once in a while. But the reality is that nobody has McCain ahead, and with so short a time before the election, barring a last-minute October Surprise or other spoiler, it seems more likely than not that Obama will be our next president.
I remember how shocked some of us were when Clinton was first elected. It didn't seem possible that such an unprincipled and morally deficient person, so staunch a supporter of abortion (for, one sometimes suspected uneasily, his own reasons), so left-leaning and dictatorial a figure could possibly have been selected by a majority of the populace to lead America. What kind of nation could we be, that our fellow citizens would choose such a man as their leader?
I suspect the same kind of soul-searching will take place in the event of an Obama victory. But those who think that such a victory will be a good moment for Republican conservatives to redefine who they are and what is important to them from within the party are forgetting something--history. When the first George Bush was defeated in his second campaign, when Dole lost (however deservedly), the Republican party has moved, not to the right, but to the left. Should McCain go down in defeat, the neo-con wing of the party will scream that it's the fault of the die-hard social conservatives who insist on taking "extreme" positions against abortion and gay marriage, when clearly every American from kindergarten on believes that they have a fundamental right to both (as soon as they're old enough, that is).
Last year, I wrote this post about the flaws of our two-party system; while it might be slightly comforting to reflect on the notion that no matter how badly McCain might be doing, at least we haven't had to endure a Giuliani campaign, there is a part of me that wonders whether it wouldn't be better, in the end, for us conservatives if the Republican party drew that line in an upcoming national election, and went ahead and nominated a pro-abort, pro-gay marriage type. They could then compete with the Democrats for the same voters, and the rest of us could begin the arduous and lengthy process necessary for the forming of a new and viable third-party; because, while I may yet be voting for a third-party candidate this time around (especially after last night's less than encouraging answer from McCain on abortion and judges) I'm under no illusions that any of those parties are even remotely positioned to become national contenders.
Should we wait, though? Realizing that Republicans in general have continued to be disappointingly weak, for example, on abortion--and especially in making the scientific, moral, and philosophical case to the American people for its abolition--should we wait until the party is officially in the hands of "personally opposed" candidates? Or should we call for the establishment of a truly conservative party that will do exactly that?
Should we wait for the Republicans to quit bumbling around the gay marriage issue by offering civil union and partnership dodges that will only lead to full marriage rights in the end anyway, or support a fledgling conservative party that will stand firmly against the redefinition of marriage to accommodate a handful of people whose commitment to sexual perversion isn't even remotely akin to marriage?
Should we wait for the Republicans to come to understand that big business isn't necessarily the friend of those who embrace traditional living, rejecting the mindset that mindless consumerism is a patriotic virtue, or form a party of conservatives who realize that conservation and conservatism go rather well together, and that the increasing 24/7 demands of corporate employers are demeaning to their workers' human dignity and detrimental to a stable family life?
Should we wait for the Republicans to realize that a leaking border and promises of amnesty aren't helping working families who are already here, and are cheapening the struggles of those who sacrifice greatly in order to come to America legally--or should we work toward a new conservative party that, without abandoning human compassion, still makes it a priority to seal our borders and end the policy of turning a blind eye toward illegal immigration?
Should we wait for Republicans to stop thinking that America's role in the world demands military intervention in every corner of the globe, and come to understand that empire-building nearly always destroys the nation that engages in it; or should we form a party that truly will put America and American interests first, and engage in conflicts only when all peaceful options have been tried and have failed?
More and more, the two political parties seem like pale shadows of each other, and their policies seem to be aimed at the same goals--only the smallest details differentiate them, and aside from Ron Paul who truly called for constitutional-level reform, nobody seems to be proposing anything that would put the federal monster back in its place, and return to state and local governments power that was long since usurped from them.
So if Barack Obama is elected, our best ability to protect and preserve what we hold dear will most likely not come from the Republican Party; our best bet may lie in ending the game of pretending the Republicans really represent our interests, and, instead, create and support a new party which will actually do so.