Sunday, April 05, 2009

What I think the Conservative movement needs to stand for

All right, first a disclaimer: I am an optimist by nature. Perhaps to the point of being foolish at some things, I normally am a "things will work out" kind of a guy--and then I get around to the business of making them work out. I am conservative, after all--I know that everything I want takes work.

So the tone of this post is going to be a little surprising, given that background.

I am convinced that conservatives are already in the political wilderness, and I will not be surprised if we stay there forever.

When you think about it, the liberals have a perfect storm aligned in their favor: a leftist President; a leftist media; a leftist AG; a willing army of cheats that don't mind mucking it up on the sidewalks of battleground locations; and a leftist Congressional leadership with a huge margin in the House and a comfortable margin in the Senate.

And they will each cover the other as necessary to make sure that nothing is derailed.

The Blue Dog Democrats? Forget about it. They'll vote against Pelosi's agenda enough to make them look reasonable to their home districts, but they won't go against leadership in enough numbers on game-changing legislation to actually stop anything. They know where their bread is buttered, and unfortunately they know that it isn't with their constituents. So a quarter--or more--of them will oppose each ridiculous piece of legislation that comes to the floor, voting on a rotational basis to be able to go home and say "I stood against Speaker Pelosi on (insert name of crap bill here) because I thought it wasn't the kind of thing that is good for you". But the House isn't going to stop anything. Anything.

There is small hope that the Senate can stop some things from being enacted--but they will be pilloried in the media for their work. Even with the early claims of discontentedness from some Dems about EFCA, that little piece of legislation will be hung around the GOP's neck--and not in a good way. Mind you, I'm not advocating a cave on that piece of crap bill--but the fall out will be brutal. And the GOP will pay for it in 2010--I predict the Senate Dems will get a veto-proof majority in that body.

And then the fun is going to begin.

And that's not even talking about 20 years from now. The demographics of this country already tilt strongly in favor of the Dems, even without all the advantages listed above. When 40% of babies are born to single mothers--a population likely to teach the self-serving value of an open hand more easily than that of a calloused hand--well, I don't think it's a stretch to say we, as a country, have already gone around the bend. And it will only get worse when the illegal immigrants get their vote.

SO when it comes to all the questions of "how do conservatives proceed in this environment?", I have an answer that flows very clearly from my above hypothesis that, for us, the worst is yet to come:

We need to be clear about our priorities. No mixed messages, no playing along with the President's agenda in any form. Quick quips about how the freedom is a gift to the individual, not a blessing to be controlled by the government. Make the arguments CONTAIN aspects of fiscal responsibility when necessary--there are some people who still care to listen to such things--but the central thrust needs to be Jeffersonian in nature. Inalienable rights and all that. Simple stuff, you would think--and appealing to the emotions of patriots. In other words, an argument that we have not made for the last 3 years very well.

But then that simple argument needs to be made everywhere. EVERYWHERE!

You want to know why it's so easy to paint Limbaugh as the leader of the GOP? Because Steele has been anything but consistent, and Boehner has deferred on some key issues to others of the caucus. And really, the arguments haven't been that hard to make--why Boehner and McConnell aren't doing such is anybody's guess. But that void leaves Rush--doing nothing more than he normally does--getting an awful big spotlight. Thank heavens he is able to handle it, because the media has been the hacks that we on the right know them to be.

Anyhow, what will all this do? Well, it won't win elections anytime soon--but let's face it, neither will today's Republican party. And it isn't Rush's fault, and it isn't Bush's fault (well, okay, it's partly Bush's fault)--it just is. We didn't fight the fight on every front when we needed to (heck, we acted like we didn't even know a fight was being waged, in places like campuses, lower courts, and in the buildings inside the beltway), and the territory that is now so far gone in the hands of liberals is feeding their movement with new signees every day.

And conservatives won't overcome that disparity by participating in a party that tries to form a "bigger" tent. It is arguable that we "supported" the biggest-tent candidate possible this past year, and the results of that effort speak for themselves.

No, we need to be a forceful opposition. And to stand for something clearly.

EVENTUALLY--probably long about Obama's 3rd term, if it happens at all--people will tire of hearing one thing from the administration and the media but feeling and experiencing a whole different world. And they will look for options.

And when that happens, conservatives need to be able to enter the room and say "this is what we believe"--without pause or fear of contradiction.

You know, there's a little part of me that marvels at the audacity of Obama. He won as a centrist candidate, has been anything but as he executes his office, and he has no fear of ever being called out for it. Except by Rush, but in the future I bet he will just let those pitches by while he goes about reshaping the country.

Being a liberal, of course, means never having to say you're sorry. Or you were wrong. Or that you ARE wrong. (All of those things, of course, are fair game to assess to your predecessors, even if doing so significantly cheapens the value of your office)

Anyhow, the American people do have a stubborn streak. And at some point in time, the bill will come due.

But conservatives won't be able to take advantage of the situation if we don't stand clearly for something.


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