I was encouraged by a poster on Redstate to put up my comment as an article, and I think sometimes it is good to challenge the prevalent mentality used by people in life and especially in politics. While there are plenty of feel good cliches that my fellow conservatives love to espouse, it doesn’t mean what they are saying is actually true. Too many times, we wring our hands complaining about how the GOP has lost their way and if they would have just been good conservatives none of this would ever happen. We say they better have learned their lesson especially after the 2008 election as if we don’t shoulder any of the blame. The good thing about the Tea Party movement is it provides an outlet for people to channel their energies to what is plaguing our nation. The bad thing about the Tea Party movement is they are not always applying their energy in a constructive manner or see the bigger picture. Saying that, I am going to dedicate my blog towards challenging what I refer to as the ‘Group think cliches’ and push people out of their political comfort zones because too many times we allow ourselves to insulate ourselves with soothing comforting cliches that reinforce our opinion on how things ought to be and not what they actually are. I am more than ready to step on a few toes and if it offends you that I am saying something that isn’t what you want to hear, then I am glad you heard it. Here are some ‘truths’ that conservatives don’t like to hear, but they NEED to hear.
1) Things would be much better with McCain as President than Obama. There would be no government-run healthcare, transfer of ownership of auto industry to UAW, or a $800 billion transaction to union cronies known as the stimulus. There also would no be an Elena Kagen or Sonia Sotomayer on the Supreme Court.
2) Squishy moderate Republicans in blue states are MUCH better than firebrand liberal Democrats. Sure I have hurled plenty of expletives at the votes of Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe, but considering the alternative of what a Democrat would do in that position, I am glad we have the lesser of two evils. People who say ‘there is no difference’ don’t seem to realize by having R’s in blue states allows for us to have an extra R, a more conservative one, on different committees where we wouldn’t if the other side had those seats. I know this is anathema to people because it doesn’t fit the narrative of principled conservatives at any cost, but being practical is more important. If I have 3 dollars on me at a McDonalds, I can’t get the Quarter Pounder combo meal. I might want the fries and drink, but that isn’t possible. The key is to get the most conservative candidate THAT CAN WIN. In places like Alabama, Utah, Oklahoma, etc that makes perfect sense because we can do better than Robert Bennett or Lisa Murkowski in those states. In places like Delaware or Massachusetts, you really have to take what you can get and be realistic about it. Jim Demint or Tom Coburn would not win a statewide race in those states. That’s reality whether you like it or not.
3) Christine O’Donnell is not a viable candidate. There is a reason she has NEVER won a race in Delaware. She doesn’t represent the voting constituency and, for all of her newfound talking points about fiscal conservatism, has yet to be that in her personal life. She was a social conservative activist who at the last second changed her tune to pretend to be a tea party activist when that is not who she naturally is. Delaware is a small state that puts an emphasis on local connections and being a match to the people there. It is the same mentality that makes the Iowa Caucus what it is-personal connection with the voters is more important than 3rd party groups bombarding the state with ads. People in Delaware have been voting straight ticket D but have been willing to keep Castle because they personally like him even if he is to the RIGHT of where they are.
4) No Republican candidate could have won the 2008 Presidential Election. Voters were too angry at the GOP to vote for them. If you looked at job approval ratings for McCain and Obama, you will find they were tied or McCain’s was slightly higher. Voters liked McCain, but for the most part, they couldn’t stomach voting for our party. Romney, Huckabee, Thompson, Paul, etc would not have won and to claim that they could is revisionist history.
5) GOP voters are culpable in our party’s defeat in recent elections too. Too often, fellow conservatives wring their hands about how our party has lost their way and if they only would have listen to us then none of these problems would exist. Would they are leaving out is there part in the GOP’s losses because until we all accept ownership of the bad, we have ZERO right to claim any right to the good things. GOP voters chose their nominees. We had primaries, and we casted our votes. If Rick Perry loses this fall, I am also responsible for his loss because I voted for him in the Primary. Every person who voted in the GOP Primary who voted for him is responsible because we made our choice and we must own it. If Joe Miller in Alaska, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, Rand Paul in Kentucky, Ken Buck in Colorado, etc lose in November, the people who voted in the primaries for them are responsible for those losses as much as the candidate themselves.
6) Center-right nation means right of center, not right wing. While our nation, as a whole, is closer to our side on many issues than the other side, we must realize that doesn’t mean they are with us on every issue and to assume that as long as party does what the people who complain the most want, it doesn’t necessarily represent the national opinion. Local and state parties need to recognize what the likely voter opinions are and reflect those when practical because too often, the most angry and shortsighted people who do the most complaining are the ones that dominate the message and mission which turn away people who are sympathetic and agree with much of our positions but don’t feel welcome. Also, people need to realize that local or state parties will vary in attitudes and opinions that better reflect their constituency. I live in Dallas County where Obama won 57% of the vote. It is a blue county. Candidates here face a vastly different landscape than someone in East Texas or in a 80% GOP area. It is wrong for candidates in those areas to demand that their issues be met to the detriment of my area OR vice versa. While that is great that for that 80% area where people who are, for practical purposes, single issue voters can get what they want, in a bluer area, that won’t work.
7) Tolerance of differing opinions is not only necessary, but healthy. The beauty of our party is supposed to be freedom and liberty of the individual. That is going to mean different people will have different interpretations or at least to different degrees of agreement. Our party needs to have conservative, ethical principles, but also an ability to respect differing opinions on the application of those principles. Too often conservatives form a circular firing squad saying they are the ‘real conservative’ and allow 1 or 2 issues out of FIFTY to distinguish themselves. The reality is that the ‘Perfect Conservative’ does not exist as a candidate or as a voter. You are talking about imperfect human beings who you will always differ with on one thing or another. To expect a hypothetical purity is both impossible and needlessly divisive. The greatest threat to the future of the GOP is the willingness of the people pulling the strings of our party-nationally and locally, to truly embrace my generation and not just preach at us.
8) Our party has completely dropped the ball when it comes to embracing people in their 20s and 30s. The complete disconnect has only been reinforced by the party not RESPECTING the views and interests we have and instead preach at us thinking that will somehow fix it. People my age do have different opinions and attitudes on different policy issues and how things should be done in general and instead of those views being respected or even acknowledged, we are given the cold shoulder because we don’t do what they want us to do. Our party has been more interested in photo ops with young people than actually reaching out to them.
9) Our Party’s future is dependent on how well we can connect with young people who are not politically active and minorities. I have already discussed the problems our party has with young people, our party has also blown opportunities to make inroads with different minority communities. The illegal immigration debate has mostly been a detriment to our party. Everyone but the most liberal of liberals agrees illegal immigration is a problem, especially a security one. The dirty little secret is 85% of the country agrees on 85% of the solution. Instead of taking those steps now that can address that 85%, we are allowing it to be help over the last 15%. People agree that we need more border patrol agents, tougher penalties for companies that knowingly hire illegal immigrants, and for slightly less people, being a fence to defend our border. People also agree that violent felons should be a priority in terms of law enforcement. That right there is the main component of what makes up the illegal immigration issue and is something that people across ethnic lines agree upon. Does this completely negate the issue? No, but it does fix most of the problems, and it is something that can be done quickly.
10) In terms of the African-American community, our party has made the same type of emotional investment as they have with my generation, which is little. Showing up at NAACP or Urban League meeting and speaking for 5 minutes might provide a nice campaign ad, but it is trivial in its impact. The key to genuine outreach is not to expect immediate results. Our party, rightly or wrongly, has a much higher threshold to overcome before we can start getting their votes. That means putting time and energy in their communities and not expecting anything in return for years. Just think of it in personal terms. If somebody starts doing things for you, you are likely to be a little suspicious and wondering what they are up to. If they continue to do things past the point of expecting something in return, you start to trust them more and, in turn, do something for him. Realistically, changes will be small and slow to come, but if you lay the seeds now, the next generation should show more tangible results.
Everything I said probably conflicts with your opinion to a varying extent. You might passionately disagree with me on everything. The point that I am making and will continue to make is we have to take ownership in the shortcomings of our party and elected officials as well. No longer can we point the finger and chant ‘you screwed up’ and act as if we didn’t have anything to do with it. Until you can accept your own shortcomings, you can’t move past them, and they will come back to haunt us later.