ERDOĞAN ALKİN > Did American conservatism fall or fail?

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Did this week’s presidential elections in the United States show that conservatism in the country has fallen or has failed? For some European scholars, the result of the elections – regardless of whether it was a neck-and-neck race – has shown that conservatism is falling, signaling that the same will soon happen on the old continent. However, others who call themselves experts on American domestic politics and consider the European case to be a totally different phenomenon, say American conservatism did not fall at all but failed due to the campaign run by the Republicans. Which is true? Is it also the end of the neocons’ influence on American politics?

It is not easy to decide which view is correct. However, some research conducted both in Europe and in the U.S., together with some recent election results and opinion polls in Europe, indicates that conservatism, if not falling, has recently begun losing strength in democratic Western countries. First the meaning of conservatism became a subject of discussion. Then the difficulties of making a proper definition of conservatism began to be discussed. It is interesting to observe that similar discussions are now also occurring in Turkey, where the conservative right dominates a major part of the political ideology.

During a recession, people who lose their jobs and an important part of their family income normally put the blame on the government. However, in some troubled European countries, ruling governments are not formed by the conservatives but mainly by social democrats. Then why has the political sympathy for conservatism weakened instead of for social democracy? Mitt Romney’s election campaign might give some hints as to the reason for the failure.

Political analysts now say Mr. Romney did not offer a meaningful change in policies that could help heal socioeconomic maladies and international political problems, but instead repeated what other Republican candidates have said during the last quarter-century. The last Republican president who offered new policies to rescue the American economy during a serious crisis was Ronald Reagan. He tried hard to convince the people during his successful campaign and was elected. Then he tried hard again to convince Congress to implement those policies and then, after the assassination attempt against him, used the growing sympathy of the Democrats to successfully pass the policies he designed through Congress.

The other important reason for the failure of the Republican campaign might be the negative influence of their traditional opinions on taxes, financing social policies, poverty, unemployment, unjust income distribution and the like in the middle of a continuing recession. It is, of course, not easy for a political party to sacrifice some important parts of its ideology because of a change in domestic and international economic and political conditions. However, there must be a limit on insisting on old principles without taking into consideration the recently altered economic and political environment.

In short, the American type of political ideology is the common beliefs, approaches and concepts of the sympathizers of a political party, whether Democrat or Republican. This means that “belief” alone is not sufficient to shape an ideology: It is necessary to support beliefs with realistic approaches or policies to satisfy believers.


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Nadide Gunduz

11/16/2012 5:27:27 PM

@US OBSERVER, you just wrote what I was afraid to acknowledge. I really think there was widespread voter fraud going on during this election. Like it was payback for 2000 and the "chad debaucle" in FL. Otherwise how can a nation where the vast majority percieves itself to be conservative (over 70%!) elect someone less than centrist Democrat for President?

US Observer

11/15/2012 2:29:16 PM

Drudge Report had a map I saw after the election that really opened my eyes. It broke down the votes based off counties. Nearly the entire map was Red (Republican). Even States like California were covered in Red. The Democrats carry major cities, and I suspect they benefit from major voter fraud. I'm not convinced this nation is no leans to the Right.

mara mcglothin

11/14/2012 4:11:38 PM


Jon Goodfellow

11/14/2012 3:11:42 AM

US Observer makes good observation, albeit we may not agree on policy. 2012 electoral cycle showed the beginning divorce in GOP "big tent" of working class/white/religious conservatives (Rick Santorum), economic conservatives (Romney), and libertarian conservatives (Ron Paul). There is a major, historic shift in party identities going on and its not just racial or cultural demographics. There are many types of conservatism and its not all political ideology or even party any more.

Jon Goodfellow

11/14/2012 2:55:24 AM

US conservatism can only be understood if you realize the Republican core is an ethno-religous group living in the Southern equivalent of the Balkans. 2012 election demonstrated for first time in 50 years that you can win national office without any Southern states. These states are now completely Republican as of this election. Its also not just demographic minority of "whites", but that fewer outside South voted for GOP candidate than in 2008. Southern GOP is a subparty like IMRO.

US Observer

11/13/2012 9:01:59 PM

America swings back and forth so while I don't believe Conservatism is gone. The principles are sound: small government, States rights, fiscal constraint, accountable social programs, strong Defense, free markets, adherence to Constitution. What we are seeing is the religious Christian right killing the party imho. That is why many are leaving for the Libertarian Party. Bush did not help by betrayal to the above his 2nd term.

Alex Kader

11/12/2012 11:39:23 PM

We can summarize the American conservatism with the Joe the plumber and Sarah Palin. One of them has no idea about the big picture of the economy, politics, world, energy, environment, science, and another one does not care about the big picture but use it to make money. Beside those described above, there are bunch of nonsense followers who make important decisions by trusting their gut feelings rather than their logic.

Nadide Gunduz

11/12/2012 8:06:04 PM

The post-election tally shows that minorities and gays showed up at the polls in unprecedented numbers again and this single reason was why Obama was elected. Unless the Dems push another black or minority candidate to the forefront in 2016, or if by some incredible miracle, Obama uses the next 2 1/2 years to show some fiscal austerity and turns the economy around, Republicans should win. The polls show that whites (both women and men) voted for Romney. He lost the popular vote by only 2%.

Blue Dotterel

11/12/2012 7:45:01 PM

"American conservatism" disappeared over 30 years ago. It devolved into neo-con nazism.

mara mcglothin

11/12/2012 4:40:52 PM

20% of Americans are living off the government policies of Obama-free phone, house, education, food. 20% work for the government(so would not vote for downsizing government) and then the Republicans scared women about their reproductive rights, SO this is how Obama got reelected. Most hispanic immigrants are strict Catholics, so you can count them as still conservative. and I am not arguing about the color of America, BUT there are still plenty conservatives believe me.
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