RALEIGH — Congress has passed Barrack Obama's signature issue - health care reform. After a year of stops and starts, imposed deadlines and rancorous debate, President Obama and his allies will have prevailed.
He can say he has a victory. And where I come from, a victory is a victory.
Many of my Republican and conservative brethren view this partisan piece of legislation as the stake in the heart of the "left" and some are already measuring for new drapes in the House speaker's office.
In fact, in some quarters of the Republican Party "irrational exuberance" has taken hold. Obama's presidency is being compared that of Jimmy Carter.
That, in my view, is a mistake.
Conservatives and Republicans who underestimate Obama do so at their own electoral peril. Unlike Carter, Obama is a true believer, who understands that transforming policy translates into votes and a citizenry that is more reliant on the federal government. And unlike Carter, Obama is a streetwise, tough politician who will not give an inch when it to comes to his vision of a "New America" - one which is modeled after European socialism.
The Obama administration will try and position him as a modern day LBJ - getting things done for the middle class and the poor. The administration and its allies in the mainstream media will echo Obama's belief that he is transformative figure and that health care legislation is akin to the historic civil rights acts of the 1960s.
And make no mistake about it - Obama's next agenda item is "immigration reform" which - unless it is defeated - will further broaden the left's constituency, strengthen the unions and undermine the rule of law.
By the way, Obama and his team will not stop there. Those who openly oppose Obama's policies will continue to be targets. First the liberal establishment went after Rush Limbaugh and for months now it's been former Vice President Dick Cheney. Progressives' newest devil is Glen Beck, and by extension the Fox News network.
My point is that Obama and his allies view governing and campaigning in the same context - "winning" means all-out war and by any means necessary.
In contrast, Republicans have, in the past, viewed campaigns from a "management perspective."
To compete and to win in 2010 Republicans and conservatives must outline and define what Obama has in store for this nation. And that is the remaking of the nation as we have known it from its inception. We cannot count on a bad economy to propel us to a majority, or outrage over the health care bill.
Yes, they are still a very important part of the debate.
But, we have an obligation in our messaging and advertising to illustrate in stark terms what Obama's "transformation" means to America, its families, traditions and culture. In short, we must campaign against the left as if we are at war.
One thing we know for certain is that Obama and his cohorts are committed to their ideology and they will do what it takes to stay in power. To win, we must understand our opponents and maneuver according to circumstance.
Marc Rotterman worked on the national Reagan for President campaign in 1980 and served in the Reagan administration. He is a senior fellow at the John Locke Foundation and a former board member of the American Conservative Union.