Defining conservatism up
Gabriella Hoffman, CNS:
American conservatism has suffered some great losses, but it’s certainly not a lost cause.
ObamaCare will be implemented, more businesses will be forced to close, unemployment is expected to rise, and more debt will pile on. Moreover, the HHS mandate, threats to religious liberty, and the promotion of leftist social policies will also define Obama’s second term.
Although this is cause for alarm, there is no need to panic and abandon conservative values.
Elites and so-called moderates are blaming social conservatives and Tea Partiers alike for being “too extreme” on social and economic issues respectively. They think pandering to groups rather than outreach will benefit our side. How exactly is taking a page from the liberal playbook going to work in our favor? It won’t.
Another troubling instance is whether or not House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and other elected officials will represent conservative interests in the 113th Congress. Support for continuing resolutions (CR) during the debt ceiling debate, and more recently Boehner’s recent remarks on ObamaCare now being the “law of the land” – among many things – should leave conservatives distressed and eager for new leadership.
Instead of displaying weakness by agreeing to “compromise” with leftists, conservatives must be tough in their resolve to fix this nation.
– All true. But let me add that evidently Boehner held a conference call with House members after the election and noted how the GOP, which held the House, lost 2 Senate seats, and lost a very close Presidential election with a flawed candidate against an historic incumbent running on “free shit!” and “soak the rich,” was beaten badly, and that it’s time to begin working out the best terms of our surrender, be it to ObamaCare, or “revenue enhancements,” or “comprehensive immigration reform.”
This is the GOP leadership — and it is anathema to classical liberalism and constitutional conservatism. So why tie yourself to that particular anchor? This country is heading for collapse. And it’s GOP establicans like Boehner who are in part responsible, having been willing to join and even now promote the Big Government status quo, to sequester the ruling class from the rest of us (that is, after all, what his attitude toward the TEA Partiers swept into office in 2010 showed, just as Romney’s treatment of the delegates at the convention, along with the choice of convention speakers, bespoke a similar disdain for the base, who he just assumed would turn out for him), effectively turning DC into a swap meet for statists of various stripes, with no real representation any more for their constituencies.
We know that most Republicans and nearly all conservatives and classical liberals reject ObamaCare; we know they reject amnesty; and we know they reject the idea of punitive taxation the productive — not least because they understand that such a policy will kill jobs, destroy investment, slow the economy, and create more debt and more dependency in the long term. And more dependency equals more Democrat voters.
So in a sense, “our” leadership is affirmatively acting to aid Democrats in nearly every sphere of politics, be it surrendering the message or surrendering principles in order to reach deals where they brag about having stemmed the full-on tide of socialist transformation by slowing it a bit from time to time.
All of which is unacceptable, and none of which is in keeping with the idea of representative government.
Back to Hoffman:
Here is how conservatives can outsmart the Left and win:
Make the moral case for free enterprise
Economic freedom is the cornerstone of our movement. Lower taxes, less spending, and balanced budgets comprise our economic policies. Although some on our side have dabbled in cronyism and big government, there is no need to abandon or diminish free enterprise. Instead, make the moral case for it.
Sound conservatism, not moderation, fosters unity
Many establishment Republicans are calling for the abandonment of social issues. Unfortunately, they fail to recognize that many social conservatives are also economic conservatives. Renowned scholar and Princeton University professor Robert P. George wrote in “No Mere Marriage of Convenience: Uniting Social Conservatives and Economic Conservatives” that the case for sound conservatism can be made. He wrote, “Sound conservatism, as a matter of principle and not mere pragmatism, will honor limited government, restrain spending, and provide honest money and low taxes—while at the same time upholding the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions; the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife; and the innocence of children.”
Tap into pop culture, entertainment, and social media
One of the weaknesses in our movement is reluctance to use social media and entertainment to convey our message. Undoubtedly, leftists have mastered pop culture to their advantage. Our side must use pop culture and social media – especially Twitter, Facebook, memes, and videos –to appeal to potential young voters and activists. There are plenty of entertaining conservatives out there. Pop culture will bolster the movement’s message by modernizing it, not moderating it.
Outreach, but don’t pander
Calls for embracing amnesty, abortion, and gay marriage would not bring more supporters to the Conservative Movement. Some are blaming “extremism” from conservatives for Mitt Romney’s loss. Many factors are to blame, but certainly conservatives aren’t at fault.
Instead of pandering to liberal interests, embrace issues like school choice that can sway people to our side.
If we’re to go this route — and I think we must — it is best that we do so having first signaled to the GOP that we are no longer their base. They may wish to join us in promoting liberty, private property rights, free enterprise, and individual sovereignty — unapologetically and with the confidence of our convictions and a track record of creating jobs and economic growth — but that means that they need come to us.
In 2008, Mitch McConnell declared the era of Reagan dead. And he was right. But what he failed to note was that it was the Republican establishment that killed it. 2010 showed that it can return. But the GOP didn’t learn the lessons of 2010. And while Obama didn’t either, it wasn’t Obama who was relying on the votes of those who sent such a strong signal in 2010, only to be mocked, bullied, marginalized, and dismissed as unnuanced Hobbits and fringe Visigoths by the very people swept into power in their wake. Mitt Romney, Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie, Steve Schmitt — these people weren’t going to set their hair on fire for you mouthbreathing flyover country hicks. After all, they knew what was best and what “we” needed to win, because they always do.
Even as they lose time after time after time after time. Without ever losing their jobs or their influence.
And that’s because they control the money, the party, and the rules, which in turn buys them a lot of self-forgiveness and funds for them a whole lot of rationalization and scapegoating. It is they who push the Republican message in the mainstream media — when that message isn’t being undermined by the mainstream media itself.
Yet when their messaging fails, it is our fault. Because we ruined their messaging that “we aren’t really all that conservative, so moderates should be unafraid to vote for us,” by speaking in conservative terms and raising conservative issues. Unhelpfully.
Well, guess what, pragmatists? I’m not going to light my hair on fire for you, either. So I guess that makes this a time for choosing.
Get out your white board, Karl, and I think it might begin to dawn on you what happens to that electoral map of yours once a large number of constitutionalists and classical liberals reject the GOP, content instead to move their focus more and more to local elections and to building communities that are in many ways will work to present resistance to the overreach of the federal government.
You’ll have two choices then: either go after Dem votes by becoming once again “compassionate” big spending statists who promise lower taxes; or else get your fat ass in line behind us for a change, and let us proudly preach liberty and free market capitalism and the dignity of the individual — along with the American exceptionalism that, far from being the result of colonialist plunder, is instead a result of the model of constitutional government that for over two-hundred years constrained tyranny and the return by the people to the subjecthood their birthright gave them the opportunity to escape.