Republicans need to learn something from Michael Jordan and the 1996 Chicago Bulls.
2014 and 2016 are shaping up to be a repeat of almost every electoral cycle since a conservative wave under Newt Gingrich took control of Congress for the first time in 40 years.
In the year since President Barack Obama’s re-election, a handful of advocates for compassionate conservatism have re-emerged to push back against limited government conservatives with the same agenda they’ve been peddling for nearly 15 years. Built around a message of governance in favor of the public good, they have chided the Tea Party and its limited government allies for ignoring the plight of the poor, heartlessly pursuing libertarian ends, and adopting a view of government’s proper role which is unrealistic and ahistorical.
The US Chamber of Commerce, the Main Street Republicans, “Compassionate Conservatives” (the current incarnation of the Bull Moose Party), left-wing funding of faux Tea Party and “libertarian” candidates as electoral “spoilers” (as they did in the recent Virginia gubernatorial race) are all doing battlefield prep to force real conservatives, classic liberals and libertarians in to yet another choice between voting for the lesser of two evils – or not voting at all.
Either of which, the left is perfectly fine with.
Voting for the lesser of two evils does guarantee the election of an evil, we can all agree on that – and a two party system does propagate this potentiality – add a little mischief from either side and it becomes a certainty. I will vote Republican in 2016, maybe not because I am fully supportive of the nominee but because of a more general support of a philosophy. I wish that were not the case but electability must be considered because if you can’t get elected, you can’t govern.
Some absolute rules of politics are these:
- You can’t govern if you can’t get elected,
- You can’t change government from the outside, therefore,
- Electability is important,
- True political change is a long term proposition and,
- We need the presidency AND control of Congress to make any real 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 the mythical “perfect conservative” (I guess the political right has unicorns, too) 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. It does guarantee growth in government albeit at a slower rate.
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. Pragmatism is not an end in and of itself; however, it is only a tactical stopgap measure. That has been our issue and why we find ourselves at the mercy of liberal Democrats and “progressive” establishment Republicans – we are playing radically different games – and we should stop calling them RINOs, they aren’t Republicans – they are “Progressives”, they voice a Republican/conservative agenda but enact a “progressive” one.
We have been fighting an election-to-election tactical battle in government while the left has been fighting a strategic battle in our public institutions, our churches and in academia. They have been building the bench strength and the cannon fodder for generations, knowing that if they can create ideological factories to turn out liberal clone after clone off the assembly line, conservatives will be overwhelmed by sheer numbers over time.
They know that their ideology is completely counter to Natural Law and as such, liberals are not born – they are made. Why do you think the left is so opposed to home schooling and charter schools? Home schooling endangers the smoke belching factories of liberalism. Why is it that the meme in higher education is that “everybody has a right to go to college and you must have a degree to succeed”? Pursuing a degree guarantees that you are extruded through the liberal theology like Play-Doh though a Fun Factory – you come out in the shape of the die that is selected.
What it means is that we have to start planting the seeds of conservatism the same way that Democrats have planted the seeds of liberalism.
Democrats and “progressives do 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 2014 – ain’t gonna happen, folks. 2014 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.
The answer lies at the local and state level…and in patience for the long term slog. Hoping for a conservative renaissance at the national level is like taking your pasty white, vertically challenged, 8 inch vertical jump, pick-up basketball team from the gym and then going straight to the NBA finals against Michael Jordan and the 1996 Chicago Bulls. The answer for us isn’t a single flash in the pan, flavor of the week, conservative “star” like a Ben Carson, Rand Paul or even Ted Cruz. These are all good people but one star cannot win a championship without a team and a bench. Even Michael Jordan needed Scottie Pippen, Steve Kerr, Dennis Rodman and Tony Kukoc.
Conservatives talk a good game about individualism, self-determination and self-reliance. It is time for us to convert these words to action. Do what you can. Write, talk, do. Get active in your local politics even at the school board level. The government wants you to talk to your kids about drugs, alcohol, tobacco and AIDS – talk to them about liberalism. For a larger segment of the population, liberalism is far more dangerous to their future than any of those.
If we don’t want our children shackled to a workbench in a state factory, we had better start building the bench.