With the debate raging over the who is the ‘true conservative’ in the presidential race, it seems like we may be missing the point that some bit of importance in solving the pressing issues of the day is a matter of political approach that could have a subsequent impact upon the implementation of conservative ideas in the realm of government and politics. The atmosphere surrounding this primary season is lacking almost entirely an explanation of how do we do it and survive politically to keep doing it if we win.
We all have our ideal view of what the world should look like, but we need to be able to effect change on the real world as it is in a way that does not bring about a premature end to our ability to do that and we end up losing far more than we gain. Currently we are suffering from an episode of far left radicals shoving their utopian view on the country with attitude of, “If it doesn’t fit, shove it, at least we get what we want and everyone will have to learn to live with it.” They forget completely that life in a (mostly) free society really isn’t so simple and have politically damaged the institutions of their party in immeasurable ways. It is likely the source of major political dysfunction, as they continue to refuse any compromise or even soften their approach and I think there is a valuable lesson from this that we can learn as conservatives. Their problem is not just that their ideology is bankrupt, they cannot close the sale and do not care.
Reagan showed us that we can compromise with Democrats without compromising principle. He was not able to complete all the reforms he wanted because he was working with a Democrat congress (which by itself says something about how far he got) and his main strength in achievement was that he brought the American people with him into battle. He recognized that the limiting effect on what is possible is not just Democrats in congress, but more importantly, the interests of where the real political power in the country lies, with the people. We need not and should not compromise the farm. But if we fail to recognize when we do not have the support of the mass majority of the people behind our individual objectives, we will be met with resistance and have very little likelihood of enduring success.
From my own perspective, I would prefer a classical liberal approach to public policy, but I would be completely deluding myself if I thought that one election would be enough to get as close to unbridled and completely free markets for nearly everything as I believe would be optimal. Reality dictates that it simply cannot be done over night without causing more chaos than we currently have. It is something we must evolve toward because the how to do it is just as important as the what to get anywhere at all with lasting effect.