The 2006 mid-term elections sent a chill down the spine of conservatives as the extreme Left of the Democrat party appeared poised to steamroll the country with a host of far left political initiatives. The sight of the gavel of power and influence passing from the hands of conservatives to the hands of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid left religious conservatives wondering how much of what they cherished would be in the political crosshairs as Congress convened. The leaders of the new Congress promised tax increases, a quick pull out of American troops from Iraq, a muzzling of conservative talk radio, a complete renovation of the Patriot Act including a ban on overseas eavesdropping of terrorists, and just for good measure, they decided to float the idea of a 50 cents per gallon tax on gas to force Americans to support the idea of alternative fuels.
But as the dust settles on 2007 it appears that conservatives have weathered the worst of the Left's political storms. All of the bravado and bluster of the Democrats in the early days of 2007 turned to sniping and whining as 2007 drew to a close. Not only are American troops still in Iraq, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's July pronouncement that the war in Iraq was lost has come back to haunt him as General Petraeus' brilliant military strategy turned the war in favor of the United States. Against all odds and against the incessant drumbeat of criticism that spewed forth daily from the news media and beltway elites, conservative ideas and principles experienced a surge that was rivaled in effectiveness only by the military surge in Iraq.
As 2007 began the new leadership of the Congress promised that as soon as President Bush was out of office and the Democrats regained their birthright in the White House, America would regain its respected standing in the world. In other words, France and Germany will like us again. But as 2007 progressed a strong pro-American conservative (by French standards), Nicolas Sarkozy won a close election in France and on November 7, brought the House (and the Senate) down with a pro-American love-fest speech that had to frustrate the Left. How dare this French President express undying support for America while George Bush was still in the White House? Didn't Sarkozy realize he was driving a stake in the heart of one the Left's favorite criticisms of President Bush by saying, "our friendship and alliance are strong?" Adding insult to injury for the Left, during a recent White House visit, newly elected German Chancellor Angela Merkel greeted the press corps by affirming a "spirit of trust that builds on a long tradition of German-American relations." The myth of America being hated overseas because of President Bush evaporated faster than a raindrop hitting the drought stricken Atlanta pavement.
The Left vowed to silence conservative talk radio but several attempts to revive the so-called Fairness Doctrine were turned back by conservatives in the House and the Senate. The Left vowed to push through hate crimes legislation that would criminalize the thinking of people who believe that homosexuality is a sin. The Senator Kennedy backed law would have required penalties for people who criticized another persons "sexual orientation" or "gender identity." If this legislation had passed the United States would have joined Canada, Sweden, and Belgium in a list of countries who have attempted to prosecute religious conservatives for their opposition to homosexuality. The bill survived the House but died in the Senate.
We were told at the beginning of 2007 that the sub-prime credit crunch and the downturn of the housing market would plunge the U.S. economy into a recession. But as 2007 drew to a close the economy has proven to be remarkably resilient posting a 3 percent growth rate in real domestic growth product, a near 3 percent growth rate in consumer spending, and a solid 3 percent growth in after-tax inflation-adjusted income for the average American. All this with less than 3 percent inflation, a monthly job growth rate of 100,000 and a stock market that ended the year in decent shape after a rough run through the Fall.
America began 2007 with the war in Iraq headed for disaster. Leftist organizations like MoveOn.org trumpeted our defeat. We end 2007 on the cusp of victory with what must be called "conditional stability" in Iraq as the plan put forth by General Pratraeus began to bear fruit. Violence is down by over 60 percent in Baghdad, the people are beginning to return, and Province after Province are begin transferred from American to Iraqi control. We began 2007 under the darkening cloud of concern over North Korea's nuclear weapons program. We end 2007 with North Korea agreeing to shine the light on and dismantle its nuclear program.
What happened? How did conservatives manage to thwart the best efforts of the Left to take America in a totally different direction? The Left had the power, the positions, and at least in the beginning, the majority of the people behind them. One thing they didn't have was the truth. Once again, the point has been made that when conservatives stop trying to sound like liberals in order to impress the moderates and simply stand for the truth, they win. I hope the presidential contenders for the Republican Party will take note and follow suit.
Dr. Tony Beam is Vice-President for Student Services and Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina.