Another Perspective

Beware the Emboldened Left

Conservatives and Republicans are making a big mistake if they fail to understand that Obama and the left have just pulled off a huge victory.

By 3.24.10

As I write, Congress has just passed Barack Obama's signature issue -- healthcare reform. After a year of stops and starts, imposed deadlines and rancorous debate, President Obama and his allies have prevailed.

He does, in fact, have a victory. And where I come from, a victory is a victory.

Many of my Republican and conservative brethren view this partisan piece of legislation as a stake through the heart of the Left and some are already measuring for new drapes in the Speaker's office.

In fact, in some quarters of the Republican Party "irrational exuberance" has taken hold. Barack Obama’s presidency is being compared that of Jimmy Carter.

That, in my view, is a mistake.

Conservatives and Republicans who underestimate President Obama do so at their own electoral peril. Unlike Jimmy Carter, Obama is a true believer, someone who understands that transforming policy translates into votes and a citizenry that is more reliant on the federal government. And unlike Carter, Obama is a streetwise, tough politician who will not give an inch when it to comes to his vision of a "New America" -- one that is modeled after European socialism.

Starting now, the Obama administration will try to position him as a modern day LBJ -- getting things done for the middle class and the poor. The administration, and its allies in the mainstream media will echo Obama's belief that he is transformative figure and that healthcare legislation is akin to the historic Civil Rights Act of the 1960s.

And make no mistake about it -- Barack Obama's next agenda item is "immigration reform" which, unless it is defeated, will further broaden the Left's constituency, strengthen the unions, and undermine the rule of law.

By the way, Obama and his team will not stop there. Those who openly oppose Obama's policies will continue to be targets. First the liberal establishment went after Rush Limbaugh and for months now -- former Vice President Dick Cheney. The Left and progressives' newest devil is Glenn Beck and by extension the Fox News network.

One only has to watch MSNBC and its commentators' rants against Beck or read the Washington Post's two recent hit pieces on Fox and Beck -- one by the former discredited New York Times editor Howell Raines, the other by Howard Kurtz, a CNN employee who hosts the CNN show Reliable Sources -- to understand how far the progressives will go to torpedo Beck and Fox.

My point is that Obama and his allies view governing and campaigning in the same context -- "winning" means all out war and by any means necessary. In contrast, Republicans have, in the past, viewed campaigns from a "management perspective."

To compete and to win in 2010 Republicans and conservatives must outline and define what Obama has in store for this nation. And that is the remaking of the nation as we have known it from its inception. We cannot count on a bad economy to propel us to a majority, or outrage over the healthcare bill.

Yes, they are still a very important part of the debate.

But, we have an obligation in our messaging and advertising to illustrate in stark terms what "Obama's transformation" means to America, its families, traditions and culture. In short, we must campaign against the Left as if we were at war.

One thing we know for certain is that Obama and his cohorts are committed to their ideology and they will do what it takes to stay in power. To win, we must understand our opponents and maneuver according to circumstance.

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About the Author

Marc Rotterman worked on the national campaign of Reagan for President in 1980, served on the presidential transition team in 1980, and worked in the Reagan Administration from 1981 to 1984. He is a senior fellow at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, North Carolina, and a former member of the board of the American Conservative Union.