On David Brooks and the "Great" Reformers

If you ever wanted to know if there are coordinated spin efforts by the mainstream media on issues, look no further to David Brooks’ latest piece of bird cage liner that is still buzzing around Washington.

It all started Tuesday night with the new meme that we’re a center-left nation from the pundits on the networks. Funny they should all raise the same point that night.

Then it headed into the pages of newspapers.

Finally, David Brooks, the New York Times pet moderate who calls himself a conservative (or at least used to be thought of as one), buys some straw men by wholesale and throws them into a column. You know the one.

There are traditionalists and reformers, according to Brooks. “Traditionalist” is code for conservative. “Reformer” is code for liberal. If you ever needed any more evidence that we are a center right nation, this column is it. Brooks cannot call liberals “liberal.” He won’t even call them “progressive.” No, now it is “reformer.” And he can’t call conservatives conservative because too many people would have embraced the term. If you can’t call yourself what you are for fear of rejection by the majority of the country, then what you are must be predicated on ideas rejected by the majority, i.e. the majority of this country rejects the left and its big government ways.

The facts are these:

According to the exit polling from the 2008 election, 34% of this nation identifies with the term “conservative.” 22%, only up one percent from 2004, identifies with the term “liberal.” The rest identify with the term “moderate” or “independent.”

Who are the conservatives?

They are the pro-lifers, the gun owners, the Christians, the small government people.

Brooks, Christie Todd Whitman, and others would have us believe conservatives should throw the pro-lifers out of the party to begin again anew. Why? No Republican coalition has ever come to power without their help. That the intellectually light loafers of moderate thought think they should be tossed out should be evidence enough the right must embrace the pro-life movement.

Put it to you this way:

Conservatives only need to pick off 17% of moderates/independents to have a governing coalition. Liberals have to pick off 29%. If we accept Christie Todd Whitman’s view that pro-lifers make up only 1/3 of the right, throwing them out puts us behind liberals. Right now, just taking one position, brings the right a third of its strength. Being for the second amendment brings even more. So why ditch them?

Additionally, according to various surveys out there, including the latest by McLaughlin & Associates, “78% of Republicans favored smaller government, 54% of independents did, 78% of self-described conservatives did, and 46% of self-described moderates did. Democrats were at 33% and liberals at 25%.”

So you combine pro-life, pro Second Amendment, and small government principles to get your governing coalition. Remember: moderates and independents do not have a governing set of principles to guide them. They look at each issue on its own. There are plenty of issues out there that would bring the conservative coalition and add to it those it needs from the pool of unaffiliated voters.

What did the GOP ditch The small government principles. Who did it lose? The moderates/independents who raised the coalition to the majority.

If we return to our roots, we win. The one and only time we followed David Brooks’ advice, we nominated John McCain. And we lost. Let’s not do that again.