No Time for Despair

by Brandon James Smith

In the wake of a devastating loss, political activists and volunteers on the right have begun to despair.  Though I am immensely disappointed about the results and how they presage a dim future, I do not have the luxury of despair.  A generation of Americans will continue to suffer under the incessant reign of the newly empowered progressive government. Despair is not an option, neither is defeat.

George Weigel was correct in his rejection of the instapunditry that claimed nothing had changed after the election.  In fact, a great deal has changed.  The governmental takeover of one-sixth of the economy will likely not be undone for a decade, if ever.  Statism is on the rise, and big government will continue its relentless march down the road to serfdom. A war in the Middle East still drags on, as does an increasingly destabilized geo-political reality, and abandonment of our allies will become the norm.  Yes, this election did change something.

Predictably, there is no shortage of second guessing the campaign staff, strategy, or the candidate himself.  I will not indulge in this now.  Do not presume I lack an opinion about such questions of strategy, message, and so on.  I have my views but I will not entertain them now.

Now is the time to emphatically reject despair.  Edmond Burke once (allegedly) admonished that we “never despair, but if you do, work in despair.”  The work of liberty is not yet done.  God remains the same today as he has always been.  American exceptionalism and American values remain “the last best hope of man on earth.” The principles of liberty, limited government, human dignity, and fiscal responsibility did not die when Ohio was called for President Obama.  If anything, their defense only became that much more important.

Now is the time to work.  Only the foolish have time to sit and wallow in self-pity and despair.  It is fine to be disappointed, angry, or frustrated.  There is a time to mourn, and a time for everything else as well.

Let me merely point out the painfully obvious and rarely discussed.  Millions of Americans will continue to suffer from this stagnant economy, wondering how they will pay for their next set of diapers or pay their mortgage—let alone how they will save for college or retirement.  Millions of people around the globe will wonder who will stave off the forces of tyranny that will undoubtedly rise.  Their voices cry out.

Conservatism has always been a creed for the poor and disadvantaged.  Progressive big government rejects the humanity of suffering by offering assistance through the proxy of a half-baked government program. Patrick Garry has astutely pointed out that big government does not respond to the average person, it only responds to other big interests or big entities (pharmaceutical companies and Obamacare, banks that are too big to fail). If we’ve learned anything it is that big government is not too big to fail its citizens. How else does one explain our dismal education system, rising unemployment, and the impending fiscal cliff?

It is the responsibility of those blessed with propensity and opportunity to preserve liberty and advance our just cause to rise above.  We have suffered a setback.  It is not the end. Those who will struggle over the next four years deserve our greatest efforts.

We must continue our intellectual fight against progressive ideology. We must improve our messaging and our strategy.  We must engage the culture and make the case for conservatism. Politics is downstream from culture, and the culture of Justin Bieber and Jersey Shore lacks the fortitude needed to preserve our future.  Fortunately, our cause is just and noble. We need to convince more that this is so.

Hold fast to the truth of liberty for it is the last best hope on earth for men and women down the street and around the globe.  Do not despair, but if you must, work in that despair.


Brandon James Smith is an adjunct professor and lawyer in DC.  All views are his own, and do not reflect the views of his employer.


  1. Graham Russell says:

    Just a heads up. Dissenting opinions and discussion are par for the course in politics. Running away won’t be a viable tactic for long.

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