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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

I think everyone in this country can agree to just be happy the election is over. Granted, some of us, namely those who supported Sen. John McCain, are bound to be disappointed. An objective analysis of the situation shows us that, despite our best efforts, the election was ours to lose. The future of our party is clear and hopeful.

The past eight years marked the long, drawn-out end of the era of conservatism. Many, myself included, supported President George W. Bush when he ran in 2000 and 2004 because of what he stood for, but his policies destroyed our party's ideals. Bush hugely expanded the federal government under the conservative-friendly theme of national security, and in doing so, undermined the small-government values the Republican Party has worked to create. His overly interventionist foreign policy, "spend and spend" mentality and disregard for civil liberties ruined the notion of a small-government and fiscally responsible Republicans.

McCain was not nominated as the great standard bearer of the Republican Party. He was nominated as the candidate everyone thought would be able to win the election. He was seen as a traditional moderate, and people voted for him over the other hacks of candidates who ran against him because they thought he could hold on to the White House. His campaign was under-funded and poorly run, and he failed to differentiate himself from Bush's abysmally low approval ratings. When he supported the Wall Street bailout, he ruined any hope of being seen as fiscally responsible.

People voted for McCain not because they thought he would be a great president; they just thought he was the lesser of two evils. He had no hope of winning against a young, energetic candidate running under the banners of hope and change, no matter how insubstantial Obama's resume or policy positions were.

Tuesday proved three things: Republicans cannot survive as a big-government party; the Bush administration set our party back for years; and the Reagan coalition of conservative support - fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, Southern Democrats - is dead.

Hope for the Republican Party is far from gone. Obama is going to take his ultra-liberal, redistributive policies and ram them through Congress, and people are going to get tired of him and his Democratic army very quickly. If Republicans play their cards right, they can easily get back in power and stay there for years to come.

Republicans need to oppose government expansion and regulation of all kinds. The post-Sept. 11 civil-liberty infringements need to go, and the moral majority needs to realize it is no longer a majority. We need to realistically scale back government in all areas and encourage private development without corporate welfare. We must only use our military when necessary to defend our nation and our allies and to reasonably and responsibly fight those who terrorize and oppress the defenseless. We need a strong national defense, not an overstretched and exhausted military.

Republicans need to become the party of fiscal responsibility, individual liberty and small federal government.

There is hope for Republicans, and if they run a truly conservative candidate in 2012, then Obama will be gone. This is the goal UF College Republicans will be pursuing over the next two years. We will continue to work and rally for conservative goals.

I would encourage anyone who holds our core values to attend our biweekly meetings Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. in Turlington Hall, room L011.

We will work toward a new hope and a new future for the Republican Party.

Johnathan Lott is vice chair of UF College Republicans.

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