What He Said

I’ve been saying this for a while…here, here, here and here. I do get a little (and greatly appreciated) linkage from Smitty at The Other McCain. Smitty has a similar post here, one that echoes what I’ve been saying – that this is a long game.

I’m not much of a pundit, don’t get linked by the big guy at Instapundit or have clout like Gerard Van der Leun, Editor-in- Chief of RightNetwork but it seems that we share an opinion on the subject. Smitty quotes Van der Luen here:

If true conservatives want to have a truly conservative candidate in a truly conservative party they will have to commit to the long march. You know, “the long march” like the one the left took through out political, academic, religious, and media institutions. The one they spent decades on. The long hard road to political supremacy. The one that takes work and money.

That’s the one thing I don’t see erstwhile conservatives actually doing from election to election. Instead they run their lives and their businesses off on the side and they show up every three years or so to watch the little red hens of politics take the nomination away from their conservative flavor of the week.

The way the Republican party is set up in the primary system means that to even have a shot at winning it you have to be running for it years and years and years before the actual elections. That’s what Romney’s been doing. That’s the game and he’s got the pieces in place to win it. You may not like it, but, hey, change it or play it.

Here is my contribution to that point from back in July – before it was cool to be a non-Romney. It actually came about because I mentioned a potential Perry/Rubio ticket at Polipundit (where I guest post) and I was savaged for it and called a RINO – I find it funny now that Perry is being packaged as the conservative alternative to Romney when Romney was packaged as the conservative alternative to John McCain in 2008.

As far left as our society and government has migrated, any short term movement back to the right should be viewed as a positive. This is a long game, a long road back to Reagan, and as Republicans, we are going to have to start with 80% solutions from people who can actually get elected – and today, a true rock-ribbed conservative is simply not electable to the office of president – not because of what they represent but because of 60 years of liberal domination of the media, using the media to shape conservatives into an evil caricature then marketing that view to the American public and the squishy center of so called “independent voters”.

When conservative positions like support for lower taxes, smaller government, believing that the 2nd and 10th Amendments mean what they say and applying the Constitution as it is written are sold as “extremist”, the left is winning.  Their incrementalist approach to slowly moving the country to the left by degree resulted in what we had in 2008…the election of a hard left president masquerading as a transformational populist.

The liberals and Democrats understand the long game; they have been chipping away for decades. They don’t see change in 4 year presidential term increments, they look 40 years out. They realize that American politics are rarely an exercise in paradigm shifts, a rapid lurch to one side or the other. Political evolution, slow and steady, is the process by which long term change is implemented and cemented. Most conservatives want a tectonic shift in 2012 – ain’t gonna happen, folks. 2012 is just the next battle. It can start the transformation but it won’t BE the transformation any more than Obama was the singular liberal transformational event for the Democrats.

I like Thad McCotter , Herman Cain and I strongly support the positions of Michelle Bachmann – but realistically, they have only a slim chance to get the nomination and it is hard to see how they could get elected on a national level.  I would support any of the above over Perry, T-Paw, Romney or Ron Paul (Paul’s libertarian ideas present a lot to like but again – simply not electable on a national level).

Some absolute rules of politics are these: 1) you can’t govern if you can’t get elected, 2) you can’t change government from the outside, therefore, 3) electability is important, 4) true political change is a long term proposition and 5) we need the presidency AND control of Congress to make any structural changes. This may appear to create a “Sophie’s choice” sort of thing for conservative Republicans who will have to choose a candidate by electability over being a perfect conservative but only if we singularly focus only on the next election. I know many people who voted for Bob Barr in 2008 because they couldn’t stomach voting for McCain but voting for an unelectable candidate is a guarantee to get a Democrat elected. Even a 60% conservative Republican is better than any Democrat.

There are true RINOs like the Maine ladies, Collins and Snow, Massachusetts’ Scott Brown and even our sometimes RINO buddies, “maverick” John McCain, and the “maverick in training”, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham – but there are also pragmatic conservative Republicans interested in long term, structural change. I think that people like Rubio and Kristi Noem are cast in that mold.

Pragmatism does not mean compromising on conservative principles; it means that the focus is on the long term implementation of conservative policy by winning elections with people who know how to play the long game. It means planting the seeds of conservatism the same way that Democrats have planted the seeds of liberalism.

I’m a conservative first and a pragmatic Republican second.

If being a pragmatist gets me kicked off PoliPundit, then so be it – but I’m far from being a “RINO in your midst”. If people want to ignore the reality of national electoral politics and continue to vote for the Bob Barr’s and Ron Paul’s of the world, then by all means, enjoy your quest for conservative purity, that is your right but be careful in your righteousness because true change agents are seldom pure ideologues. They can’t be and be successful because true change involves leadership and leadership requires inspiration of everybody, not just your supporters. Reagan was an example of a true change agent.

If conservatives don’t learn how to play the long game, we should get prepared to settle in for more Democratic presidents and Congresses for years to come. Then we can all come back here after 2012 and commiserate about how much losing sucks and bitch about liberals…or we can start working a plan so that our kids won’t have to have the same conversations. Our choice.

Another related post here.

3 thoughts on “What He Said

  1. Pingback: While I Agree With Gerard Here, Sometimes I Wonder If There Is A Point : The Other McCain

  2. I am fully aware that this will not be a popular comment, but that’s too bad as it happens to be true:

    I have been trying – and failing – to explain the PRINCIPLE here for a while now. At the root of the problem is the FACT that conservatism has no definition – at least, not anymore. Mississippi (aka Utah) has illustrated this when he equated conservatism to Classic Liberalism. They are NOT the same things. Classic Liberalism has more in common with the modern Libertarian movement than it does with what most people think of as “conservatism.”

    Before you can rally people to a cause, you must first define that cause. Then you must defend it (as in REJECT those who try to claim the mantle while advocating policy which is counter to the stated goal(s) of your cause).

    Until this happens, we’re paddling up diarrhea creek in a chicken wire canoe.

  3. I’m not misidentifying or equating anything. I have no control over people who self-define as one thing and do something else. Those people used to have a name – liars.

    I intentionally use “conservative” as a descriptor because it is far more understood than the term “classical liberal” as opposition to our American definition of “liberal”.

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