With the election over I’ve seen in multiple forums the idea that moderates are the problem – that we shouldn’t nominate them or suffer them gladly. If only we were ideologically pure we’d have won and driven off Obama.
I can’t abide this. The great failing here was not one of conservatism itself, but nor were the “moderates” to fault, or even the liberals. The greatest failing is a disengagement from the arena of ideas for the arena of conflict. We cannot simply be against liberal socialism as socialism, but must re-engage the public and drag them back to reality.
There is a natural drift in human society towards the current left – to more government control and support. This is to be expected, as it’s easy to look at the choices people and societies make and come to the conclusion that “someone should help them”, that “its unfair to let them suffer for bad decisions”, or that someone “smart” and “intelligent” should help guide them “for their own good”. One need only think of the idiots they’ve met in their own life to see why these tendencies are so strong. Government “solving” problems is a siren’s song given the inherent unfairness of the world.
Too many conservatives look at this and call it socialism, and denigrate those moderates looking for a middle ground as well as those liberals who still believe that good people in government can “make a difference”. This is a losing strategy. We need to be making the case that the issue isn’t intent, but results – government is the highest cost, lowest competence provider of services. We need to be asking the key questions to get people thinking, to work their minds on the issues of the day.
Universal health care sounds good, because who’s against treatment for everyone. Easy “feel-good” liberal argument. Conservatives need to push to the next level – note that health care is expensive, and ask what exactly having the government run it is going to do to bring down the costs. Ask if they think dealing with a government bureaucrat is going to be better than an insurance company. Ask what exactly makes you trust Congress more than your doctor to make your health care decisions.
Conservatives must re-engage in the war of ideas in addition to the inevitable political battles. Remember – first you win the argument, then you win the vote.