Liberals have been spiking the football for a week. Yet their efforts to portray a razor thin (1.5 percent) margin of victory as a ringing mandate are unseemly. Equally inappropriate has been the behavior of some conservatives who have taken to moping in public.
No one likes to “lose”—not in football, and not in politics. But in both arenas, one thing is sure: You can’t win ‘em all. The saving grace, of course, is that there are no permanent defeats in politics, just as there are no permanent victories. What matters is how you respond after each contest. Win or lose, real winners get up and keep going.
Conservatives pride themselves on holding “principled” positions—i.e., advocating policies in accord with the principles of governance articulated by our Founding Fathers. Well, if you hold your principles dear, there’s really no room for moping just because a slim majority of voters fail to endorse them one day in November. If you feel in your heart that your principles are, indeed, the correct ones, the only honorable course is to roll up your intellectual sleeves and fight all the harder for them.
And conservative principles—such as peace through strength—are worth defending. That will be a huge challenge in the months ahead, as Congress considers how to avoid going over the fiscal cliff.
What’s gotten us to the very edge of this cliff, of course, is excessive spending—including huge increases in spending on entitlement programs. Unfortunately, many in Congress are of the opinion that, rather than rein in runaway entitlement spending, they’ll just “fix” our budget problems by slashing defense spending.
That approach not only fails to address the root of our fiscal problems; it also threatens to severely undermine the readiness of the U.S. military. And that is something worth fighting to resist.
Failing to modernize our nuclear force—or unilaterally cutting it further—amidst an increasingly hostile world is fundamentally unserious policy. Offering Russian leaders “more flexibility” concerning a prudent missile defense network that is NOT aimed at them, but at a reckless Iran is inviting trouble.
Lastly, offering a “pass” to radicals who have murdered the president’s own personal diplomatic representative in a country because of a perceived “slight” to their sensibilities is seen as weakness.
Only through strength will we deter those who would do us ill.
The Nov. 6 elections essentially changed nothing. Not control of the White House. Not control of the Senate. Not control of the House. And certainly not the role of conservatives in the public arena. Even if more seats had changed hands, the role of the Conservative to press our leaders to uphold the principles of the Founders would remain just as necessary. American political life is not really a series of sprints we call political campaigns, it is a marathon; a marathon that is now nearly 237 years long.
The Founding Fathers (and their exceptional women) set up this country to be a continuous competition of ideas. At any given time, one side or the other may predominate. During periods like the Reagan Revolution it may have seemed conservatives would always lead. Today, some liberals probably think they have a perpetual lock on leadership. But the beauty of America is that the competition goes on.
The nation needs the “strife” of diverse Americans all pulling, according to their respective principles, to continue the upward climb of greatness. Conservatives have no business—and no time—to mope. America (and the president) needs you to play your part.
Steven P. Bucci, Ph.D. is a Senior Research Fellow for Defense and Homeland Security at The Heritage Foundation.
First appeared in FoxNews.com.