- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2010

American conservatives are celebrating their sweep of the congressional midterm elections as a first step in reclaiming their beloved republic and halting its slide into Euro-socialist stupor. Unfortunately, there are troubling signs that the 2010 victory for constitutionalism (whose forces captured but one half of one branch of the national government) may be far too little, far too late.

Take, for example, the post-election Kaiser Family Foundation survey, which found that just 24 percent of voters want the egregious Obama health care regime repealed altogether; another quarter want it repealed in part only. Nineteen percent want it left alone, while a shocking 21 percent favor its expansion. All told, about 65 percent of voters actually favor a greater government role in health care than existed before Barack Obama was elected president.

Then there are the unforgiving demographics: People of color overwhelmingly want more, not less, government. The most recent election was not atypical as black, Hispanic- and Asian-Americans voted overwhelmingly for Democrats (by 90, 64 and 56 percent respectively). For whatever reason, conservative voters outraged by the growth of government tend to be overwhelmingly white. And as Zoltan Hajnal notes in the Wall Street Journal, “[W]hites may currently be the majority but they are a declining demographic. The proportion of all voters who are white has already declined to 75 percent today from 94 percent in 1960. By 2050, whites are no longer expected to be a majority of the U.S. population.”

None of this bodes well for the fate of limited government in the United States. In truth, the constitutional republic that conservatives cherish has not existed for a long time - if ever. The new health care law, after all, is but a logical extension of the New Deal and Great Society programs of the last century. If by some miracle, Obamacare is repealed, we will still have Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid poisoning our body politic, which grows sicker by the day. These programs alone are enough to bankrupt the country and also are popular and therefore politically untouchable, no matter what some vaunted “deficit panel” may recommend. As Texas Gov. Rick Perry woefully notes: “Unfortunately, the New Deal has essentially become the third rail of American politics that indiscriminately kills the political careers of any leader bold enough to criticize it or any program it created.”

The sad truth is this: Even if the federal government stops growing right now, it already is more than large enough to compromise both the liberty and economic health of our citizenry.

Nor is the United States alone. All across what used to be called Christendom, governments are cracking under the strain of unsustainable obligations (world governments are estimated to owe about $40 trillion, or two-thirds of global gross domestic product, even as their enervated populations rage and riot for more of what has long since run out - public money. As public treasuries empty, services and comforts long taken for granted in the West will degrade and then disappear, as indeed is already happening: In Britain, “Up to three-quarters of [town] councils are planning to turn off street lamps or dim the lights in an attempt to save money,” according to theDaily Mail. Police warn that with the diminution of artificial light, the terrors that plagued pre-modern humans will again assert themselves - accidents, fires, vandals and muggers will welcome the return of the dark. Nonetheless, “43 percent of town hall bosses are already committed to switching off lights,” while “another 12 percent say they are dimming lamps,” and a “further 19 percent of local authorities [are] … considering some form of blackout.”

The rot is deep and widespread. It is civilizational. Americans who think partial success in one midterm election can reverse these trends are as delusional as the liberal politicians who think their defeat was a result of poor communication. Lights are going out - literally and figuratively - all across the once-great edifice of Western civilization. And just as the Renaissance needed the smoldering ashes of a corrupt and tyrannical Roman Empire in which to gestate, so, too, may the darkness have to fully descend on the modern West for there to be a full rebirth of liberty’s light.

Matt Patterson is senior editor at the Capital Research Center and a contributor to “Proud to Be Right: Voices of the Next Conservative Generation” (HarperCollins, 2010).