Public values leaders with principles

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, December 4, 2008

This is the last election analysis I’m going to do – until 2012. But I feel compelled to weigh in on the dynamics of this past election, so as to bring about a bit of reality to the discussion.

First, Barack Obama’s election does not signal a realignment, as some giddy left-wing pundits would have us believe.

John McCain, by all standards a terrible candidate with a poorly run campaign, still won 22 states.

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And if Bob Barr hadn’t been on the ballot in North Carolina and Indiana, McCain would have won those states, as well.

That’s right, arch conservative Bob Barr siphoned away more votes from McCain than Obama’s margin of victory in those two states.

Nor was the reason for McCain’s loss his failure to garner Hispanic votes. One Republican “expert” said that Republicans should just get real and find someway to legalize the 12 million illegal immigrants in this country.

That’s baloney.

Politicians may think the way to a voter’s heart is through giveaways and handouts, and that’s probably true for some. But most voters look beyond the goodies and search for something deeper and more meaningful.

First, principles are of paramount importance. And the first principle for most Americans is still liberty.

Stated another way, liberty is the freedom to pursue happiness unfettered by frivolous and arbitrary government rules and bureaucrats.

Principles such as respect for institutions and the law also appeal. Americans of all colors — Hispanics included — can respect such positions, even if they want to change the law.

Millions of Hispanic immigrants took the legal route to moving here, waiting, paying taxes, and passing citizenship tests.

I would wager that most of them would be upset if others were rewarded for breaking the law.

Another principle that most Americans cleave to is the value of family. Mom, Dad, children, the traditional model. Most cultural division in this country stem from the tension between the traditional model (which after all has worked for tens of thousands of years) and the “not worse, just different” models of single and homosexual parents.

Disrespect for these institutions leave most voters outside the salons of New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco saddened, if not dismayed.

This set of beliefs is what made Sarah Palin so attractive a candidate when she was first announced as McCain’s running mate.

Here was someone who worked hard, tried to do the right thing, believed in the strength and spirit of individuals and who was optimistic about America.

Of course, after several weeks of media and Democrat bashing, her approval polls dropped.

Liberals and elites who lost sight of this set of beliefs saw Palin as a threat to their valueless lives. So they piled on.

The same thing happened to former Sen. George Allen, who was a rising star in conservative presidential discussions. The Washington Post and its fellow travelers took one slightly off-color remark and hammered Allen with it daily. He lost his re-election bid.

Supreme Court Clarence Thomas was another victim of the “let’s get righty” crowd. When people saw him testify in 1989 after being accused of sexual harassment, they believed him. But after a year of media and liberal bombardment, public opinion had turned 180 degrees against him.

So in the next election, potential candidates should remember that the public values leaders who adhere to first principles, and stick to their guns when the other side starts shooting.

There, I’m done with Election 2008.

Chris Warden is an assistant professor at the Hall School of Journalism and Communication at Troy University. He is the former editorial page editor of Investor’s Business Daily.