Let me first say that we conservatives should be gracious in defeat because it's the right thing to do. That does not mean, however, that we should for one minute abandon the vigorous pursuit of our ideas. The left never does, and we cannot afford to.
We mustn't be sucked in to demands for bipartisanship from those who wouldn't practice it if their lives depended on it, lest we continue down the perilous path of unilaterally surrendering our ideas in the misguided hope that getting along is our highest aspiration.
Remember in 2001, after liberals had already bludgeoned President Bush for 36 days and accused him of stealing an election they'd tried to steal, when they demanded he show bipartisanship? That is, those who lost insisted that those who won reach out to them. They said Bush didn't have a mandate and should voluntarily dilute his conservative policy proposals in the interest of getting along.
In that case, bipartisanship meant that conservatives should become more liberal on their own instead of the two factions fighting for their respective programs and letting the votes fall where they may.
Now the liberals have won, and again, they are calling for bipartisanship. But they're not demanding from themselves, as the victors, the same standard they demanded of President Bush in 2000 or 2004. They aren't counseling themselves to moderate their own positions to make them more palatable to congressional conservatives; they're saying that congressional Republicans should move toward Obama in a spirit of "bipartisanship." Heads I win; tails you lose.
Just to be clear, I -- as a conservative -- am not saying that Barack Obama should govern to the center for the sake of bipartisanship. He won. I assume he will try to pursue his agenda. I don't happen to believe that policy harmony among elected officials is the be-all and end-all. Rather, each side should pursue its agenda, fairly and energetically.
In the first place, we know that liberals are always going to pursue their agenda with ferocious tenacity. Republican efforts to reach across the aisle result in pulling back bloody stubs. Ask President Bush and, the left's formerly favorite Republican, John McCain.
Leftists in the Democratic Party and the media will vilify you as a right-wing extremist almost no matter how accommodating you are. At least one side in this eternal struggle knows it is in a war. And that side, while demanding bipartisanship from the other, is plotting to silence it, beginning with talk radio. We pooh-pooh that promise at our peril.
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