As liberals party in the street, celebrating Barack Obama’s upcoming inauguration, Republicans are just trying to cope. Around the country, conservatives are walking around in various states of misery ranging from mild dejection to full-blown depression. As a young conservative — something of an elusive group on this campus — I have tried to funnel my sense of impending doom into optimism, despite my serious concerns about the Democratic Party’s ability to successfully manage the national budget and Obama’s lack of experience with foreign policy in an increasingly globalized world.
But, despite our collective concerns, Republicans can’t just head toward the nearest, deepest, darkest cave and stay there until Obama’s time in office ends. Now, more than ever, Republicans have a responsibility to inject a sense of practicality into the often overly-idealistic liberal mentality.
Liberals, in their euphoria, rush to compare Obama with Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, they tend to overlook some of the less heralded similarities between the two. During FDR’s campaign, respected political commentator Walter Lippmann said that FDR was “a pleasant man, who, without any important qualifications for the office, would very much like to be President.” Lippmann meant his comment as an attack on FDR, but I think that FDR’s desire to be president may have been one of his best qualifications. Similarly, Obama’s noble intentions may be one of his greatest strengths. Despite his troubling lack of experience, Obama seems to be a man who wants to be president because he truly believes that he can make a difference. I find no fault with this and I respect him for his sincerity.
Obama won the presidency because he promised Americans the unity we have so desperately craved since becoming divided over the war in Iraq. He promised hope, something we have been in short supply of in recent years. More importantly, he promised America a resurrection of the sense of pride that we seem to have lost in such a controversial war.
But these are just ideas, vague abstractions that have heart but not mind behind them. Contrary to the popular cliché, ideas don’t change the world — actions do. That’s where the Republican Party comes in. It’s the job of the Republican Party to temper Obama’s idealism with practicality. Everyone wants our planet to remain beautiful, our citizens to be healthy and happy, and our credit on the world stage to be restored to the glory it has preserved for so long. It’s the place of the Republican Party to make these things happen for everyone but also to remind Democrats in government that the extreme legislation they favor isn’t always realistic, that personal responsibility must be treated more seriously and that this country must be ready to defend itself against people whose hate runs deeper than diplomacy can reach.
That means, however, that Republicans are going to have to work with the Obama Administration. That’s right — I said it. Republicans in the legislature do not have the right to spend the next four years doing everything in their power to force Democrat-sponsored legislation to die. Republicans have a responsibility to their constituents to work with the administration and actually get legislation passed that can benefit everyone. Negotiation, as distasteful as that might sound, must be the Republican’s tool of choice.
So, my fellow conservatives, put that spelunking gear away and stay out of that cave. The next four years might be rough, but they will be vital for the GOP. It’s time for the Republican Party to pull itself together and show America that it’s not made up of stuffy, bitter, old white men. And, hey, look on the bright side: it’s only four years — hopefully.