A Litmus Test For Conservative Leadership

minute-man-2-lithoFor almost two years, conservatives have been torn between their principles and the pragmatic desire to elect a Republican President for the good of the country.  Now that the election is over and the Democratic Party has won, the political urgency for conservatives is no longer as intense.  We have a little time to rethink just what the conservative movement’s role is in American politics, including our relationship with the Republican Party.

This election in particular, makes it obvious that the Republican leadership does not look favorably on the conservative influence within the Party.   The problem for the party is that it cannot win elections without conservative support.  The problem for conservatives is that they cannot support most Republican candidates without compromising one or more of their principles.

Many conservatives are motivated by single issues like abortion or taxes.  There is also a tendency to group various types of conservatives as fiscal, social, defense, big government, or limited government conservatives.  There seems to be no basic principle around which the conservative movement can unite and present a consistent message to the electorate.

The conservative movement occupies the same position in the Republican Party that the socialist movement occupies in the Democratic Party.  Both make up the primary voting blocks of their respective parties.  The difference is, the Democrats have been successful in mobilizing their base to win elections while in many cases, the Republicans have not.

There are a number of reasons why all the voting blocks of the Democratic Party come together on Election Day to support party candidates.  They have been successful in applying the socialist doctrines of “class warfare”, and “the end justifies the means”, however, the primary reason for the “solidarity” of the Democratic Party is that it is united around a single set of unifying principles.

Whether we look at the environmentalists, feminists, unionists, gay rights advocates, or any of the other groups that make up the Democratic coalition, they are all united in supporting the socialist/democratic agenda.   Not only do they support the agenda, they shun anyone within the party who does not support it.

That does not mean that every Democrat is a socialist.  However, if you look at the leadership of the various groups who make up the Democratic coalition, or at the group’s collective membership, it is difficult to overlook the fact that they all support the fundamental principles of the socialist movement: “big brother government,” opposition to free market capitalism, redistribution of income and the other elements in the Marxist version of “social justice”.

The Republican Party, on the other hand, does not seem to have an agenda that everyone can unite behind. There are many single-issue conservatives who stay home if a candidate does not emphasize the particular issue in which they are interested.   On the other hand, a number of conservatives will vote for a candidate who supports one or two conservative principles although they may outright reject others.  The 2008 Presidential campaigns provide excellent examples of this fact.

There is one principle that should be a “natural” for all Republicans and certainly for all conservatives.  That is the principle of constitutional government.  You may be saying, “that’s silly, all Americans support a constitutional government otherwise they would not be Americans”.  To which I reply, “Where is the evidence?”  How can anyone claim to believe in a constitutional government and then consistently vote for candidates who either ignore or consciously violate the Constitution for the sake of expediency?

Again referring to the news of the day, the economic bailouts over the past month were supported by a majority of Republicans in Congress, our President and our Presidential candidate.  There is nothing in the Constitution that gives to Congress the power to use money extracted from the labor of citizens to prop up private businesses, that for whatever reasons find themselves in financial difficulties.

The government excuse for intervening is that “something must be done”.  In a capitalist society, companies prosper under good management in a free society.  However, there are business cycles that must be weathered from time to time.  Companies that do not have the fiscal discipline to prepare for those cycles or the management skills to manage their companies profitably and consequently are unable to survive the down cycles go out of business.

Alternatively, if the products or services are of value to society, companies can file for bankruptcy protection and be restructured on a sounder basis.  The rationale for the new proposals to provide another twenty-five billion to the carmakers is that if the Automobile industry fails millions of jobs will be lost.  This is nothing more than “fear tactics” used to manipulate the American people.  The truth is that if they were allowed to go into bankruptcy and restructure, they would be better equipped to compete and prosper in our global economy.  Some may temporarily lose their jobs but in the end, the industry would be strengthened.

On what basis are decisions of this type made by government and supported by Republicans and conservatives?  Obviously, they are made for political or economic expediency, not on principle.  We need elected leaders who make decisions based on principles.  If the principles are right, the decision will also prove to be right in the end.  No principles of government, in the history of the world, have proven to be more successful than those underlying our Constitution.

History has shown that American voters support politicians who run on these principles even if they do not fully understand the connection.  If we are to rebuild the conservative movement it has to be structured around the Constitution, otherwise we have no core on which to build that differentiates us from the socialist/democrats on the other side.  That will involve reeducating the American people, especially the politicians, on the content and meaning of our founding documents.

The Democrats use the litmus test of abortion as the basis for choosing their leaders.  We should use the litmus test of the support and defense of the Constitution as the basis for choosing our leaders.  Most Americans support the Constitution.  The problem is, few have any knowledge of what it contains and the limitations it places on the power of the federal government.  That is a situation that must be changed if we are to reestablish the conservative movement as a force in government.


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2 responses to “A Litmus Test For Conservative Leadership

  1. Your analysis is correct assuming most voters actually have read the Constitution, understand what it means and use such as a major consideration in selecting a candidate to vote for.

    Unfortunately, knowledgeable conservatives are members of a very small political minority who actually know what is best for the country to keep us safe and secure from bad people who want to take away our pursuit of life, liberty and happiness..

    To prove this point, recent studies have shown that:

    – Fewer than 25% of students polled knew how many US senators there are.

    – Only 35% knew that “We the People” are the first three words of the Constitution.

    – Less than half could name the Executive, Legislative and Judicial as the three branches of government.

    – Most Americans erroneously believe that if Roe v. Wade were overturned, abortion would become illegal throughout the United States.

    – Most Americans do not know there is absolutely no money in the Social Security Trust Fund.

    – Nearly every American has never seen an actual copy of the Federal Budget.

    With these statistics, it is of little surprise that most voters select a candidate that they “like”, looks “presidential” and/or promises to give them something for free.

    The challenge for conservatives is to craft a conservative agenda satisfying the simple model Don Hewett’s used for “Sixty Minutes” and most editors use to decide to print a story or a book. Accordingly, every story needs to answer the question: “So What?” If the the “So What?” was not compelling, it did not get on the air or get printed.

    Conservatives believe in conservatism. They know it works. In order to sell conservatism to the uninitiated, we as conservatives need to spend more time explaining to plain folks why such is so important to them.

    If we can put a man on the moon, we can get this done before the 2010 election.