05 November 2008

On being a conservative now

Last night, as the election results were rolling in and it was clear that Barack Obama would be our president-elect, Dennis said to me that he felt sort of sorry for me that in my first election as a baby-con, I experienced being on the losing side of the presidential election. Then he pointed out that I had been on the losing side of the previous two elections also. Sweet of him, eh?
Actually, I'm 0-4. I've never picked a winning president. And while this is rather pitiful, in many different ways, what it has afforded is the unique position of being part of the losing side and listening to the verbage of the losing side. And I have to say, I'm honored to be part of this losing side this time.
I believe that conservatives have responded, in most part, with grace and honor to this election defeat. I have read and heard many friends' opinions that conservatives are mean-spirited, selfish individuals. And most of us, they suspect, are inherent racists. I believed the same thing back when I was a liberal (which, for the record, was last year). I was wrong. And my many friends who believe the same thing, if they will admit it, are wrong, too.
I was realizing yesterday as I wrote my thankful list, that there are many, many, many people on both sides of the conservative/liberal divide who have a deep appreciation, gratitude, and commitment for and to our country that goes beyond which party is in power. This gratitude is not coupled with a blindness to our failings as a country, but is a very real evaluation of the assets, strengths, past, present and future of the country and a belief that those things overpower and overcome the liabilities, weaknesses and errors we have experienced and will experience.
I will confess, as a liberal, I was not one of these people. I said I loved my country, but I really believed that America was, if not THE problem in the world, at least A problem in the world, that we had brought more suffering on others than we had alleviated, that most of us, if left to our own devices make selfish and self-serving choices, etc...
When my candidates lost in the past, I did not hear other liberals speaking of hope for the future. I did not hear others talking about the strengths we exhibit as a country. I did not hear promises to continue to serve, continue to strengthen, continue to love our country. In short, I never had the sense that our patriotism went beyond our self-interests. If our candidate was not in power, something was very, very wrong with the world.
This time is different. I know that there are conservatives who will go on attack, but most of the conservatives I have read and spoken to are expressing their hope for the country, their resolution to pray for the country and for our president-elect, and their appreciation for the historic nature of Obama's election. Most everyone I know is glad, glad, glad that an African-American family will be in the White House. They rejoice in that. I have heard that religious conservatives are vindictive and judgemental. I found these links here and here at Holly's and I would urge you to read them. Though they express a sadness in some of Obama's choices especially in regards to abortion, I think they also express very aptly what many conservatives will follow up with action, especially through prayer -- a desire for our country to be strengthened, united, and strong.
McCain's concession speech, to me, communicated this commitment. I knew before the election that he would return to the senate and serve the country he loves the same way he has in the past. He confirmed that with the words that follow. I remain glad to have supported such a man.

This campaign was and will remain the great honor of my life, and my heart is filled with nothing but gratitude for the experience and to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Sen. Obama and my old friend Sen. Joe Biden should have the honor of leading us for the next four years...

I would not — I would not be an American worthy of the name should I regret a fate that has allowed me the extraordinary privilege of serving this country for a half a century. Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone, and I thank the people of Arizona for it...

Tonight — tonight, more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Sen. Obama — whether they supported me or Sen. Obama.

I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.

Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.

Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you all very much.

4 comments:

Holly said...

Thanks, April. I knew there had been a shift for you, but didn't know what had happened exactly. I was thinking it would make a good interview...hint, hint. :)

April said...

Thank you, Holly. I might agree to an interview sometime, maybe. There has been an enormous shift for me, and this is just one small part of it. I continue to analyze what has happened in my mind. And my heart. And my spirit. Perhaps someday I'll be able to articulate it a little more clearly and it will be interview-worthy. :)

Jen said...

Great post!

-M said...

Well said, Aperton. Spot on.