Opinion

Dear conservatives: Barack Obama is my president | Angie Vogt

I offer this reflection as a proud former liberal feminist turned conservative.

On Tuesday night, my guy lost the election. But America won back the hearts of many of her citizens who have felt marginalized these past eight years.

Bill Maher recently referred to the “Stupid States of America” for her traditional, decidedly non-European view of the world. I hope he will at least reconsider his contempt, even though these same Americans who voted for the first black president also voted overwhelmingly in liberal California, battleground Florida and conservative Arizona to preserve the traditional institution of marriage.

To the chagrin of Hollywood and lily white New England, we are not a liberal country. We are a tired and divided country.

On Tuesday night, I paused to say a prayer of thanksgiving for our nation. Even as I prayed for my guy in the midst of defeat, I could not help but feel the excitement and joy for the millions who celebrated their guy in the streets of Seattle, Chicago and hundreds of cities across this great land.

America is a great country and conservatives know this. At each election, the people speak. As Americans we accept the outcome with gratitude for our freedom to vote; a freedom that precious few countries enjoy.

Barack Obama is my president and I am proud of his victory. He ran a smart, diligent campaign and, in the same manner as Ronald Reagan, he conveyed a message that was positive and hopeful. John McCain resorted to name calling and what was perceived as “more of the same,” while Obama, with his beautiful young family, conveyed a sense of youth and vitality. Negative associations just rolled off him.

Americans move forward. Always. We never look back. We move toward the guy who inspires us, not the guy with gripes and complaints. Having some ideas helps, but it’s not what wins elections. Obama had ideas, but finding someone to actually explain them has proven difficult.

While 80 percent of voters cited the economy as their number one concern (not health care or Iraq), I can tell you that almost 90 percent of Americans vehemently disagree with Obama’s concept of wealth redistribution.

Given this fact, it’s hard to believe that his ideas are well understood by the electorate, or that they mattered.

In my view, Obama’s candidacy was based on 80 percent hope (for a new page in history) and 20 percent charisma (like Reagan and Bill Clinton had).

A word to my fellow conservatives: The principles we hold dear, namely, limited government, religious freedom, the right to life, personal property rights, economic freedom, and the traditional family as the foundation for free societies, are principles that made our nation great. These principles are critical for a society to remain free. We know this and most working people know this.

Yet, in six years (from 2000-2006) with a Republican president and Republican Congress, apart from the right to life, we failed to build progress with these principles. Government grew at a grotesque rate. Spending was out of control (though it got worse when the Democrats took over in 2006).

Our president, who was unfairly maligned and disrespected by the press, liberal congressional leaders and Hollywood in an unprecedented fashion, failed to actively lobby for conservative principles. He allowed the press to misrepresent him, did not refute or work to clarify misunderstandings, and he too often clung to his cronies (like Donald Rumsfeld) rather than seek out fresh perspectives or solutions.

In those six years, we did not aggressively work on solutions to rising health care costs, offering instead only the beginnings of a brilliant idea, Health Savings Accounts. Between big government and big insurance, we left the lesser of two evils, insurance companies, to battle the sordid labyrinth of federal and state regulations and mandates, leaving consumers in the lurch.

In short, my fellow conservatives, having principles is not enough. I might agree with every belief a candidate shares regarding the role of government, but if he’s not pleasant, not inspiring and not someone I want to hear from during times of crisis, he’s not going to win.

While conservatives reject the liberal view of Americans as feeble sad sacks in need of rescue and spoon-feeding at every turn, the old line, “let the free market sort it out,” does not inspire confidence when hundreds of people have lost their retirements to the whims of free market agents. We have to have more than ideas.

Monday morning quarterbacking isn’t helpful. My point is to offer my congratulations to the American people for breaking a new barrier and proving to the world that we are the nation of promise and prosperity for anyone willing to work for it.

In electing Barack Obama as our president, Americans proved what conservatives have been saying all along: There’s no better place for opportunity and prosperity than America. God bless us, every one of us.

Federal Way resident Angie Vogt: vogt.e@comcast.net. For past columns and further commentary, visit www.soundupdate.com.

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