President Obama won the election using the theme of “change.” Looking at definitions of “conservatism,” the common thread among them are the words “opposing radical change” (wordnetweb.princeton.edu). At the end of the Bush presidency, many people on both sides of party lines were advocating change of various types. So, I suppose it isn’t really surprising that Obama is now president.
Conservatism involves many ideals such as maintaining support for strategies that work and protecting freedoms that we enjoy as Americans. It is much more than just “opposing change.” Now that we have a liberal administration, what can we conservatives do to renew conservatism?
We need to reach out to the group of first-time voters. This includes young adults and new legal immigrants who had the opportunity to vote for the first time in 2008. Both of these groups caught my attention as being particularly vocal in their support of Obama. Quite possibly, it was these two groups of voters who tipped the election in Obama’s direction. Was it “change” that caught their attention and attracted them to Obama? Was it the lure of a young, technically savvy, trend-setting, African-American who was breaking through old barriers? Thinking of young adults just starting out in life and new immigrants just starting out in American life, perhaps they have more in common with Obama. Perhaps they did not pay as much attention to Obama’s substance as they did to his style and passion.
So, how do we reach out to this subset of new voters? I believe we need to have young conservative leaders who can point out the errors of liberalism without being disagreeable. More importantly, these young conservative leaders need to point out what is “right” about conservative views and do this in a positive manner. They should use various forms of technology to advertise these views.
I remember being a young adult, and I was one of those UNC-Chapel Hill students that Jesse Helms wanted to keep fenced in. At that time, I thought conservatives were old, mean, intolerant people who didn’t want to help others. Then, as I became self-supporting, I became more thoughtful and sought-out information about liberals and conservatives. As I became more informed, I became more conservative.
I think we need to make sure conservative philosophies are positively modeled and made accessible through various technologies to help those who are trying to solidify their own political beliefs. We need to publicize what is right with conservatism. We need to be seen reaching out and helping our neighbors in need. We do not need to be seen as outdated, intolerant people. Most importantly, we need to show how conservatism is relevant and meaningful. We should work at the grass roots level to inspire conservative passion in today’s society through our words and deeds.