Nothing focuses the political mind like defeat. With Democrats about to assume control of the House and Senate for the first time in 12 years, Republicans in general, conservatives in particular and conservative Christians especially have an important choice to make.
For at least the next two years, they can forget about confirming many, if any, judges who disbelieve in legislating from the bench. There won't be any John Robertses or Samuel Alitos getting confirmed (or probably nominated). No Judiciary Committee headed by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) will allow any through, and while the fate of the "Gang of 14" who vowed in the last session not to participate in any filibuster of judicial nominees except in extreme circumstances has yet to be determined, my guess is that their influence will not be as great in a Democratic Senate. Neither will there be a "nuclear option" because there will be no Republican majority leader who might use it.
Cross most important social issues off the conservative resolution list for the next two years. Socially conservative freshman Democrats are unlikely to press them on a liberal leadership. Liberals were happy to sleep with pro-life and anti-same-sex-marriage Democrats during the campaign, but don't look for them to be respected in the post-election morning.
The choice conservative Republicans must make is what to do for the next two years. They might consider following the example of Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.). In some ways Brownback, who is running for president, is trying to reinvent what it means to be a social conservative. To be more precise, he is trying to take the movement back to first principles, demonstrating what he is for, rather than what or whom he is against.
World Magazine, a conservative evangelical publication, followed Brownback into the infamous Louisiana penitentiary at Angola, which became known to the public through the films "Monster's Ball" and "Dead Man Walking." Earlier this month, Brownback addressed 700 inmates in the prison chapel and then spent the night in a jail cell along with writer Marvin Olasky, who says his "neighbors" were a serial rapist and a drug cartel killer.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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