A regular reader e-mailed me the morning after Obama's election victory, "You should probably leave the country. best for all concerned. slam the door on yer way out."
I replied, "Saving the future of America has never been a sprint.... It's a marathon. It's not a movie; it's a soap opera. It's not bad enough yet for people to wake up to reality. You're stuck with me, like I am stuck with you. America now will get what it voted for. I pray that my assessment of our short-term future as a result of this election does not come to pass. I will support him where I can, but I do not trust his promises."
Yes, I was disappointed and saddened for my country. The Democrats kept the presidency, held the U.S. Senate, and took veto-proof control of both California's Senate and Assembly. I received another e-mail quoting from a comment to a March 2010 Czech Republic Newspaper article published in the Prager Zeitung:
"The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president."
But such derisive rhetoric fails to address the reality conservatives face. First, most of the millions who voted for Obama are not fools. We conservatives believe they made the wrong choice, but they're not fools. The President is not a fool. While producing a terrible economic record, he ran a focused campaign, marshaled an impressive ground game, and got the votes out he needed to win. That is hardly the work of a fool.
The great American saga continues, and the true optimists are realists. They face the current realities and get busy attempting to change them.
Some suggest jettisoning principles to reach America's changing demographics, but changing core principles would be political suicide. Instead, conservatives must reach out and engage the voters they must convince and make the case in a way that's compelling to them. You do that by listening to, engaging, and influencing a new generation of Americans.
Seth Godin recently observed: "Who you hang out with determines what you dream about and what you collide with. And the collisions and the dreams lead to your changes. And the changes are what you become. Change the outcome by changing your circle." Conservatives need to start hanging out with and positively colliding with a wider circle of Americans.
Ronald Reagan would say, "They call me a great communicator. I prefer to say I communicated great ideas!" Reagan was an educator. His collection of taped speeches stressed those speeches that communicated timeless principles critical to the future of America. It's time for all conservatives to embrace that role.
It seems like a long way to the mid-term elections in 2014, but we can learn from the president's election game plan. President Obama realized his vulnerability and kept a campaign contingent in each of the swing states for four years. The drone of well-funded, last-minute ads won't change minds already sold on liberal talking points. Now is the time to start engaging, not just the swing states, but all segments of citizens on critical American values and saving the American dream. If we conservatives don't make our case in a way that makes sense and changes minds, it's we who are the fools!