October 7, 2010
Conservatives Will Need to Grow after the ElectionBy J. Robert Smith
Just wait. It's coming. Should Republicans win either or both Houses of Congress this November, the libs -- particularly those masquerading as journalists -- will begin to hammer a theme about conservatives. The theme will be that all those unruly new conservatives coming to Congress need to grow up; they'll need to learn to chew with their mouths closed and acquire a more sophisticated worldview and act accordingly. Joining in this call -- more subtlety, perhaps -- will be those Reservation Republicans who call D.C. home or who prowl that turf regularly.
Thinking about what happens after the election may seem like putting the cart before the horse. But it isn't -- that is, if you care to be strategic.
To counter this coming lib attack, congressional conservatives will need unprecedented support from grassroots conservatives around the country. The fight switches after the election to one of building and sustaining majority support for genuine liberty-tending legislation. Arresting, and then changing, a hundred-year statist dynamic is the stuff of a marathon, not a sprint. Outlasting the left - and its Republican dupes -- isn't the only key to victory, but its darned close. The marathon starts with the new Congress in January.
Out of the box after the election, expect the fossil media and mainstream talking heads to argue that repeal of the odious statist trap called ObamaCare is unrealistic. Some Reservation Republicans, like Olympia Snowe, Lindsey Graham, and Susan Collins, may well add their two cents, arguing that ObamaCare reform, not repeal, is what's achievable, given a laundry list of obstacles and impracticalities.
"Reform Big Government" has been the cry of Republican accommodationists since Wendell Willkie. And what's been the result of these Republicans' reform efforts? Why, even bigger government, and not a heckuva lot of reform that made government work any better. Trying to better manage the welfare state or the regulatory state or the ownership-of-the-means-of-production state (think GM) is a losing proposition. It may work in some Swiss canton, where the population is small and homogeneous, but not in big, sprawling, diverse, freedom-loving America.
Reservation Republicans need to be careful about what they wish for: If Lindsey Graham and John McCain (his election year conversion notwithstanding) succeed in nudging the GOP toward being the right wing of the left-wing Democratic Party, they'll find grassroots conservatives decamping in droves to form the first major political party since the Republican Party rose up in the 1850s. What remains of the GOP will be a rump party -- a little red moon orbiting big blue Planet Democrat.
As America's revolutionary generation discovered, dumping tea into Boston Harbor was a nice attention-grabber, but it was just the beginning of efforts to pry King George's kid-gloved hands off the colonies' collective throat. Rebellion led to armed revolution, which came at an enormous price -- about a decade's worth of treasure and blood.
Today's grassroots conservatives aren't being asked to man the barricades or shoulder muskets and venture forth. What the grassroots are being told is that the fight for America's future -- for a re-founding of liberty -- doesn't stop with the election of a lot of well-intentioned conservatives to Congress. It means the fight for the nation's heart and soul will begin in earnest in the halls of Congress and in neighborhoods and communities across the land.
If conservatives want the coming Congress to be the start of a profoundly transformative period in the nation's history, they need to fully grasp what conservative congressional members will be up against. Liberals control the popular culture, academia, the mainstream media, the judiciary, and the federal bureaucracy. Each of these has a stake or a belief in the fact that government needs to play an ever-expanding role in our lives. Most, if not all, liberals view the Founders' America -- an America of divided and limited government -- as quaint and useless to the purpose of refashioning America fully in accord with progressive beliefs and values.
Among Republicans, there tends to be a doom-and-gloom chorus. We can hear these GOP voices now: "The forces lined up against us are too powerful. Win Congress, we may, but we can't beat the left. Besides, the people want compromise. We need to find a middle ground."
Similar voices were heard in the run-up to and during the American Revolution. King George and Great Britain were too mighty to defeat. Give it up or cut a deal. But don't dream impossible dreams.
Everyone knows how the revolution turned out. A strong sense of right, pluck, and perseverance won the day. Providence and lady luck aren't to be discounted, but the faithful well know the admonition that God helps those who help themselves.
So, practically, how should grassroots conservatives prepare to make the next Congress the start of the new Great Awakening in liberty?
Make it crystal clear to Republican congressional candidates that platforms of less government and greater liberty aren't election gimmicks. Republicans in Congress in 2011 will be held strictly accountable for their utterances, votes, and the legislation they sponsor or sign onto. Make it even clearer that splitting differences with the left over ObamaCare or cap and tax, for instance, in the name of getting things done or national unity (whatever that is) is a nonstarter.
Continue to organize and mobilize at the grassroots. Well before their swearing-in next January, GOP congressional members need to be hearing from the grassroots -- regularly. Expect and demand not just accountability, but communication. Ask members for insights into their thinking. Don't be shy to ask "Why?" Or to ask it again and again. Members of Congress owe their constituents abundant explanations for actions to be taken as well as actions that have been taken.
Or as New York GOP and Conservative Party gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino sums it up about what the people should demand from legislators:
And stay vigilant. Inevitably, there will be congressional Republicans whose election year courage wavers once confronted with the powerful grind that liberals will exert; and who are susceptible to the arguments, wooing, and blandishments of liberals and Reservation Republicans. Here, grassroots conservatives need to reach out and work among themselves -- across state lines, if necessary. Shifting and concentrating resources among grassroots groups and organizations to whip wobbly Republicans into line will be imperative.
There's still unfinished work to do -- about four weeks' worth -- in electing conservatives to Congress. That's today's top priority. But it helps to look ahead and to do some thinking and planning about how to ensure that Republican election gains are translated into liberty-advancing legislative action -- action that will be the next great step in reclaiming Americans' fullest measure of freedom.