There is nothing more counterproductive than ignoring how you got in a mess, assuming you want to remove yourself from the mess. And make no mistake about it, folks. We are in a mess. I’ve heard some conservatives say the exact opposite, of course. Foremost in my mind is Rush Limbaugh. Since the election I’ve heard him say many times that conservatism was not on the ballot. I respect, Rush. But I respect the truth more. Rush is at his best when he is the Moses of the right, leading us to the promised land, but right now he is at his worst, playing the role of Aaron and setting up a golden calf to distract us from the problems we face. We must not let this meme take hold. We must attack back for the reality-based community called conservatism.First off, let’s be clear. Rush Limbaugh is technically right, IMO. John McCain was not a real conservative. He was a squishy moderate if ever there was one. This makes Rush right about the general election, but there is a much scarier conclusion that Rush and the movement ignores at our own peril. Conservatism was on the ballot in the Republican primary and lost soundly. Think about that. Within the Republican Party conservatism was roundly and soundly rejected. Conservatism is so weak right now that we can’t even make first string on our own team. How do we like those apples?
You might even say we didn’t even have a candidate that ever posed half a chance. Fred Thompson was our best hope and he didn’t even come close to winning a single primary. Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter were seen as jokes from the beginning. Conservatism is considered a lunatic fringe in our own party! How did this happen?
Well one thing that is killing us is our increasing unwillingness to recognize our position by hiding from reality (“We’re a center-right nation.” and “Conservatism wasn’t on the ballot!” come to mind immediately). As I said earlier, we can’t begin to correct the problem until we realize we have one. Next is our rush to compromise to win. A lot of the criticisms leveled at John McCain could be leveled at George W. Bush. You don’t get John McCain as the nominee on the raionale that moderates get elected without first having George W. Bush get elected on the same rationale.
Now I understand electoral politics. I understand consensus-building and the necessity of coalitions, but we conservatives give and give and give while getting nothing in return. We haven’t had a real say in who our nominee has been since Reagan in 76 and 80. We’ve consistently compromised our principles for folks who never seem to give an inch back. This has to change if the coalition is to be rebuilt.
We have to acknowledge how in our own party’s primary our candidates and positions are consistently ignored and/or ridiculed. Fred Thompson was ignored for not being flashy enough? Really? How? What? Are we Democrats? Was John McCain the answer to the flashy question anyway? I digress…the illegal immigration issue was ridiculed or ignored. We ended up nominating the worst possible candidate on an issue that concerned conservatives immensely. Where was the give on the side of the moderates there?
At the end of the day we must conclude that Conservatism is black sheep in its own supposed family. I say to Rush and anyone else peddling sweet nothings, that the reason Conservatism wasn’t on the ballot in November was because it was overwhelmingly rejected by Republicans in the primary process. So to get Conservatism on the ballot we first have to start securing primary victories.
It will all start in the primary process. We have to sell Republicans conservatism again. We have to tell SoCons that they can’t promote regulation for Global Warming and poverty initiatives through the government in a small-government federalist party. We have to tell some FiCons that corporate welfare is a no-no. That bailing out compaines because they are “too big to fail” is not conservative and that no company is too big to fail in a free market society. DefCons will have to hear about how nation-building was a Democratic invention built on the premise that government is the solution to not only our problems, but the world’s problems.
As Barry Goldwater said, “Grow up, Conservatives!”