Okay, it’s time to get to work. The liberal/progressives have spoken. They were scared of losing rights they have fought hard to win. They were afraid they would not gain rights they think are urgent.
They are proud to be the supporters of the first black President, and they want to be part of history.
If conservatives ever want to do more than obstruct the liberals’ agenda, they must find places they can agree with President Obama, and graciously give ground on those issues. There are many points of contention. Pick the one that smells the least, and start rethinking your position:
- Voting Rights
- Reduce the Deficit
- Equal Pay for Women
- Gay Marriage
- Tax Restructuring
- Health Care
As time goes on, there will be more opportunities for reasonable, measured compromise, and conservatives should jump on as many possible. Embrace anything that does not directly conflict with your core values. Let the other half of the nation know that you do not wish that they would disappear. That you welcome political discourse, the give-and-take that flows when people who disagree with each other on fundamental issues acknowledge the right of the other to hold the opposite viewpoint.
That way, when you get to the really tough issues, the core principles that really stick in your craw, the liberals will be more willing to accept that you really mean it. That you really do believe that abortion is murder. That you are not merely mouthing words to make a political point.
One of the main points of contention is that, for the past four years, President Obama has not seemed interested in compromising. It is the height of hypocrisy to deride a politician for not being interested in working with the other side, then behave in the very same manner. If conservatives have any core values that the other side can believe in, it is that you truly believe in your principles. Don’t throw that asset away lightly. A little bit of compromise where it’s possible goes a long way toward allowing you to dig in your heels on the really important stuff.
Democrats who are paying attention have looked at the map. They can see that half the country is not entirely enamored of the new regime, the same as the old regime. That there is plenty of reason for conservatives to be afraid of what is coming.
The liberals ran a campaign of emotion. As time goes on, remind them that, while they have the right to their feelings, you have deep-seated fears as well. That, as the party in power, they have the responsibility to govern for the benefit of all. Conservatives still hold the House, and still have the ability to obstruct the liberal plan. Use that ability wisely, to achieve true compromise, and both sides can still benefit.
One of the best ways to win is to not fight at all. Find a great communicator who can work with the liberals, and send him into the other camp. Give him a list of issues that are amenable to being shelved, and the authority to do so. You can’t push against a will-o-the-wisp. When they go to the well to find some issue to champion, something to fight against, take the wind out of their sails. Before they can push, hand them a victory.
But you can’t wait for the liberals to set the agenda. If they get the chance to choose the issues, and they pick something that is anathema to the conservative core, conservatives who complain will immediately seen as doing their usual obstructionist business. Get out ahead of the talking heads. Find a piece of an issue, and immediately give it up. Even without gaining anything in return. Start the dialogue.
Listen to what the liberals are saying. They are concerned that the old white guys who have already made it are trying to slam the door behind them. Show them that the door is wide open, that they don’t have to force their way in.
You might know that race is not the issue. You might know that you are just as concerned about the future of your children as they are about theirs. You might know that you did not receive any more of a leg up than they did. You might realize that, as people, we all have value, we all are worthy.
But they don’t know that you know that. You must go out of your way to let the people on the other side of the aisle know what you know. That you are not the enemy—you are just another citizen with ideas and values that are as meaningful to you as theirs are to them.
The progressives are in their corner, warming up for the fight of the century. Give them the biggest surprise of their lives by not showing up to the battle. It’ll be interesting to see where they go from there.
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