Conservatives on Elba Island

In 1814, after abdicating his throne, Napoleon I spent some 300 odd days on the Island of Elba. Elba is the largest island in the Tuscan Archipelago, about 20 km off the coast of Italy. It was Napoleon's time there and what he did after that can provide some great lessons for the conservative movement to learn from.

While on Elba, Napoleon, gained a certain affinity for the local population. Because of this, and to pass the time, he enacted social and economic reforms to improve the quality of life for the people who lived there. He mined iron, created hospitals, increased the availability of drinking water, and issued decrees for implementation of better agricultural practices.

Napoleon's optimism is what kept him going during his 9 month and 12 day stay on Elba. His lust for power and conquest soon returned though. In 1815 he escaped Elba and returned to Europe to reassert himself as Emperor of France. This led to the bloody to the Hundred Days campaign, where he was defeated and exiled to the island of St. Helena, in the Atlantic.

Republicans, like Napoleon, ruled the government in terms of conquest. Arbitrarily doing, spending, and acting as they pleased while in power. Voters, due to this behavior, saw fit to put them on their own Elba.

The GOP must learn to use what influence they have, regardless of how limited, to effect positive change for the people, a lesson that was lost to Napoleon. Attempting to fight against the tyranny of the an expansive government and return to a more purest conservative movement, fundamentally rooted in its classical liberal and Burkean philosophies.

Unlike Napoleon though, if and when, they have the opportunity to return to mantle of power it cannot be done with the zeal of conquerors. It must be done with great care and affinity for the American people. Fighting to return power to the citizens, limiting government, and undoing the damage that is taking place to the core of American culture.

Hopefully we can learn from these historical references. Take away the lessons, as well as the mistakes, people in history have made, and then apply them to our own political situations. If not, the GOP is doomed to exile and extinction on its own St. Helena, the place where Napoleon lived the rest of his days, withered and broken.

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