For too long, conservatives have allowed their regular opposition to most policy proposals, and now their vehement opposition to President Obama, to be painted as angry and pessimistic – when, in truth, our fundamental ideology is rooted in confidence, optimism and happiness with our American way of life. This, I believe, is the conservative conundrum.
This became particularly clear to me this week as I engaged a dear friend of mine about the current state of affairs. He is the father of one of my best friends in the world, and someone who is much like a second father to me. He is British-born and American by choice. We have been debating, generally, this issue of how to handle President Obama. I, of the persuasion that the President, regrettably, is a real danger to all that we believe, and that he must be stopped from doing the things he wants to do – my friend, while frustrated with many of Mr. Obama’s policies, of the persuasion that he is our President and we must hope that he succeeds.
In an email exchange with my friend last night – after a particularly funny one about the ridiculous Obama “gift” gaffes (DVD’s, Churchill, etc…) with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown – he wrote the following:
Speaking of Sir Winston Churchill… here is one of his many famous quotations: “The optimist sees opportunity in every danger; the pessimist sees danger in every opportunity” — Winston Churchill. Cheers!
Now, there’s not much to argue with in the quote. I agree. But, my friend sent this as part of his ongoing attempt to convince me not to “rubbish,” in his words, the President – and came with the implication that by attacking the President and his policies, we conservatives are no longer “the optimist.”
This, of course, raised some questions for me about those core issues of how you carry yourself and what you stand for.
I know what I stand for. I stand for God. I stand for freedom. I stand for self-reliance and personal responsibility. I stand for the Constitution and limited government. I stand for preservation of life and the values necessary for civilization to prosper. And I am proud of these things – because these are the things, coupled with family and friendship, that make me optimistic about the future of America and the opportunity we all have.
But these are not things that usually show up in the form of legislation. Unless they involve repeal of previous mistakes, these are not things that lend themselves to activist legislators in Washington who have to “be for something” (for the sake of it) and who have the worst disease of all, “do-something-itis.”
For me, this is what I believe is the conservative conundrum. We are built – as Rush Limbaugh talks about regularly – to be happy and to have fun in this world by focusing on what we can accomplish through Faith, freedom, hard work and self-reliance. This, as opposed to the liberal – who wants to focus on all that is wrong and bad in the world, and what government needs to do to “solve problems.”
Accordingly, we are also built to be against virtually everything that Washington does – the thousands of bills, the rampant expansion of government, the spending, the waste and the non-stop trampling of freedom – most occuring beyond the Constitutionally limited purpose of our national government. As a result, we get painted as “angry” or “pessimistic.”
Indeed, our opposition today should be as high as it ever has been. We all know what is happening. The unprecedented and ill-conceived spending that mortgages our nation’s future and risks runaway inflation… the many irresponsible nominees… the nationalization of many American businesses… the large steps toward nationalized healthcare… the massive taxation… the rampant disrespect for the unborn… the damage inflicted on our national security… the meddling in local schools… the attack on guns… the attack on religion in the public square… the hysterical and illogical reaction to so-called climate change… and the list goes on and on… all leading to a potential disaster for our nation, for our families and for the literally billions of people around the world who depend upon a strong, free and prosperous America.
So how do we maintain our inherent optimism as conservatives in the face of this onslaught against everything we hold dear?
In my view – we conservatives need to do three things:
1. We need to be better about focusing first, even from a policy perspective, on those things we know are enduring – as we know those are the things that give us our optimism. Our Faith, our families, our friends, and our belief in freedom – from individual liberty and belief in the free market to the fundamental right to govern ourselves… these are the things that get us up every day, uplift us and encourage us. These are the simple things, but these are the things that matter and that endure;
2. Stop apologizing for being conservative and quit being scared to oppose terrible ideas and harmful policies. It’s ok. Be proud and, even, happy in our opposition. Our nation was founded in opposition to the Crown and its oppressive regime, and for freedom. Republicans today are running scared – looking for something to be “for,” when what we are for is pretty simple – to preserve and protect our largely successful and healthy American way of life (see #1); and
3. Be realistic that our way of life is under attack, embrace it, and then unabashedly and unapologetically fight those who are attacking us. Fight to protect those things that matter, and to oppose with everything we have all those who undermine our ability to live free and to enjoy those things, including the President, his Democrat cohorts and the weak, pathetic Republicans who enable them.
We as conservatives should be greatly concerned about the state of affairs today. But the strength in our ideology comes from our underlying optimism, faith and confidence in our beliefs and the American way of life. What we have in America is awesome. It’s inspiring, and it’s damn sure worth the fight – so act like it.