By Graham Glover –
Regardless of who you plan to vote for next November, this presidential election is a foregone conclusion. Former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, will be elected the 45th president of the United States. I’m not a bettin’ man (too many other vices), but you can take that prediction to the bank. It’s a done deal.
Don’t agree with me? Tell me what Republican can beat her. Just look at the electoral map (not your own ideological leanings) and it becomes blatantly obvious that none of them stand a chance. I think it’s a mathematical improbability. Practically speaking, Jeb Bush is by far the best candidate the Republicans can nominate. If they have any hopes of winning, they should turn to Bush. He was an effective governor of Florida and despite the Tea Partiers who now paint him as a moderate, Jeb was and remains a bonafide conservative. If the GOP is smart, they will nominate yet another Bush, which will give them the best opportunity of retaking the White House. But I don’t think the primary calendar favors Jeb; so despite his incredible fundraising prowess and ideal pedigree and platform, I suspect the Republicans will nominate someone different and consequently lose any possibility of winning the presidency.
Which brings us to Hillary. For many, the prospects of President Clinton II is a nightmare. For some it’s a dream come true. But know this, Hillary Clinton will be our next president. She is destined to become our Commander in Chief.
We could debate the merits of my prediction, but I think that is a waste of time. Like I said, the Electoral College will all but guarantee her winning (easily, I think). What I’m more curious about and very unsure of is what the future of American conservatism will look like after another 8 years of a Clinton White House. Hillary is no Obama. She will pander to the hard left, but she is decidedly more moderate and less ideological than our current president. Like her husband, she is more of a pragmatist than an ideologue. Still, she is no conservative and cares little, if at all, for any of the issues near and dear to those on the right.
What then would a President Hillary mean for conservatives? What impact would her election have on the movement’s trajectory over the next 10-25 years?
For starters, it should mean the permanent and final death of the culture war. I’ve argued this point many times in the past and will make another attempt at it here. Politically, it’s time for conservatives to abandon social issues. They do nothing to help advance the movement’s cause. They hurt it on the national scene. Big time. Understand what I’m saying here, while conservatives should give up on fighting/arguing these issues in the political realm – they should NOT do so in the ecclesial or communal ones. Again, I’m not suggesting we stop addressing these issues in our churches, our homes, our communities, etc. But politically, conservatives are on the losing (not wrong, just losing) side of history. We can pontificate all we want. We can stand on our moral high ground if that makes us feel better. But politically speaking, especially on social issues, our country is a moderate/leaning left electorate. If they hitch their politics to social politics, conservatives will continue to lose on the national stage. And honestly, do laws and policies change people’s hearts or the Good News of forgiveness and salvation we have in Christ Jesus? We know the answer and should, consequently, know where to put our focus on these issues.
When Hillary is elected, I also think conservatives should radically revise the focus of their economic policy. I’m not suggesting conservatives become liberals. The goodness of the free market as well as lower taxes and smarter government spending should continue to define conservative economic policy. But the focus should no longer be on the almighty dollar and the success of the top 1% of wage earners. Conservatives have a lot to offer economically. Truthfully, conservative economic policy is more uniquely American than liberal economic policy. But conservatives have wed their policies to the success of the wealthiest 1% of Americans and give only lip service to the betterment of the middle class, the poor, and even the upper-middle class. Focusing on these groups and understanding that making more money is not that which defines the success of individuals or our nation is precisely how conservatives can once again capture the support of the American electorate.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, conservatives must reject the radical individualism that defines the movement today. Conservatism is rooted in tradition, community, family, and faith groups. These things are not individualistic by nature. When conservatives suggest the individual is the primary focus of all they do and support, they are rejecting the very essence of what it means to be a conservative. Conservatives may cringe at Hillary’s comment from years ago that, “It takes a village to raise a child”, but she is exactly right. What conservatives need to fight over is how Americans define that village. If conservatism wins that argument and reaches out to people and groups that long for community, then it will find several new groups of voters who will be receptive to its policies in ways they haven’t in the past.
Get ready, Hillary Clinton will be our next president. While conservatives will support someone else, her election (and re-election) should not discourage the conservative movement. Rather, it should be the impetus of changing who and what American conservatism is and can be.