conservatism

Yawning Our Way To Victory In The Culture War?

Incrementalism. It's a common cause for disunity among conservatives. Some just can't wait. Big and oppressive government, high taxes, picking winners and losers, failing education, decreasing prosperity, rights ceded to government, and bureaucrats running our lives and enabling the coarseness of the culture are among the many ills wrought by liberalism. But they didn't occur overnight. The Left patiently plotted, worked and plodded and, over several decades, got us into our current predicament. Get the people hooked on a little bit here and a little more later and before you know it, no one wants to, or can muster the courage, to disengage from government dependency or the status quo. Why go back? It makes the job of conservatism that much tougher.

It has also made for divisions within the conservative movement. How fast can we go? When should we go? What should our program look like? Some, want it all repealed yesterday. Some realize that we didn't get here in one day or year or even decade. It takes time to build support for deconstructing government. Unfortunately, to the former, if you take the approach of the latter, you're not all in and not a real conservative. Alec Thomas at Bearingdrift.com kind of gets at the idea here.

Coincidentally, Matt Archbold at the National Catholic Register today writes about incrementalism as it pertains to the pro-life movement. Ironically, it's the pro-abortion forces who are bitterly upset at the progress (setbacks in their world) that has been made by pro-lifers in state after state by remaining patient and getting it done piece by piece. He quotes Vicki Saporta, head of the National Abortion Federation as saying:

The anti-choice folks have gotten smarter. They’re no longer talking about overturning Roe, because there would be a huge backlash. But if you make abortion inaccessible in state after state, they are in fact achieving their goal while seeming reasonable, when they’re anything but.

He then drops this gem from Michelle Goldberg of The Daily Beast:

The anti-abortion movement has been making epochal advances using regulations that are as tedious to read about as they are to describe. In the abortion wars, boredom has become a powerful weapon.

This division of patience or eagerness often is portrayed as difference in philosophy, creating "right wing" and "moderate" camps within conservatism. Usually, the policy aims are pretty on par. It's the approach that differs. Many of the legislative wins in Virginia in recent years on abortion and education choice, for example, have come by tie-breaking votes in the Senate. The bills were as packed as tightly as possible given what could be stomached by the players involved. Change the players? Sure, but that's for campaigns, not policy. We must always strive to get what we can when we can or we lose ground. Every opportunity is an opportunity — to get something, to set the stage to come back for more. (Once you get legislators in the habit of voting the right way, it gets easier each time.)

As Archbold himself writes:

You see, pro-aborts are very used to having the deck stacked against pro-lifers. Along with their friends in the media, they've (with little effort) attacked and demonized pro-life leaders as kooks for years. But now the pro-life cause is being pushed in so many places and from so many faces that the smear machine can't fix its slimy gaze.

Incrementalism may not be sexy and it may seem boring. It's not glamorous but it's effective. Archbold affectionately refers to it as a yawn. The Secular Left sees us taking a page out of their operation manual. Perhaps some of our conservative allies now can see clearly what the Left sees because we do need to row in the same direction — now that the Left is onto us it will only get more difficult. But with all conservatives working together, the blocks removed from the government fortress will become larger and larger and the yawns will turn to shouts of joy.

Yawning for joy. These days, it's pro-lifers who are happily gaining victory after victory, even in unglamorous fashion. (H/T National Catholic Register.)

Not Playing Nice IS Good Politics!

On the heels of my post last week when I extolled the leadership of New Jersey's conservative Republican Governor Chris Christie, comes a poll that shows his job approval has skyrocketed the more he confronts and takes on the opposition to reform. A new Rasmussen survey shows the governor at a whopping 57 percent approval rating (NBC40.net)! This astonishing number comes as he is cutting state employees, their benefits and their pensions, among many other sacred cows. In August, he was at 51 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll (see The State Column blog). Either way, in a climate where establishment politicians are getting their heads handed to them, the numbers are more than impressive. It's more than a fascination or amusement with Mr. Christie's sharp tongue and undiplomatic public sarcasm (though he does score style points for that, I admit).

The lesson is that trying to be Mr. or Ms. Popularity by appealing to all sides, by playing the bland policy game, by not taking on bold initiatives, offering lukewarm reforms, and not doing what you are going to do (reduce government and tax rates, for example) pleases no one. Liberals always will think conservatives are mean and hateful, and the conservatives who elected Mr. or Ms. Popularity will abandon him or her (hello George W. Bush) for living up to his or her word.

So, it pays to have a definitive point of view, a bold agenda and a take no prisoners approach to getting it done. Better to have a dedicated following willing to give their all, than to attempt to appease all sides, water down your plan, and still have the sides aiming at each other because while they'll accept the bone thrown to them, they don't like the bone thrown to the other side. It's ironic, but you can't get popular by pleasing everyone. To paraphrase the general in one of the many great scenes in Patton:

We're fighting a war, darn it. We have to offend someone!

This is why Governor Christie is reaping a following, not only in New Jersey, but around the country. He's willing to take his policies forward not caring who complains or takes offense. He  obliterates the idea that conservative values and philosophy can win and work only in certain states or regions, or that candidates must be tailored to certain electorates. What it really shows is that conservatism, when its time-tested core of life, liberty and property are clearly articulated and fearlessly fight for, strikes the very core of the yearning most people innately have for freedom from a nanny state and their antipathy for a leviathan that thinks it can and must do everything (while driving us into insolvency) — and that they will justly reward those who do so.

Governor Chris Christie Schools Whiny Public School Teacher, Offers Lesson To All Politicians

As another video of Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (see previous one) goes wildly viral, further increasing his legend as the unafraid and bold taker-on of the special interest Left — even in what is typically a rock-solid blue state run by unions, public sector employees and other status-quo-failing-government-programs-and-big-spending-are-fine-by-us power blocs — his national star continues to rise. While Governor Christie takes bold public stances assaulting the vested interests in Trenton, the typical politician in Washington and state capitals works to placate special interests even though they are the same interests working to defeat any reform. Which is why the fat, not-so-telegenic guy is a big star on the national scene while made-for-tv-politicians flounder after promising starts. He knows you can't make deals with the devil.

He is more than a wise-cracking, in-your-face politician, as this video shows. Sure, a pol can make a splash with a sharp tongue. But that takes you only around the block once (except if you're a lefty, in which case the mainstream media thinks you are the second coming). But he also calmly, reasonably, factually makes his case. Which is what conservatism is all about. The applause is the proof in the pudding.

Chris Christie, Super Star!

UPDATE: All Clear At One Capitol Square

Word on the ground is that the all clear was given several minutes ago and tenants have returned to work at One Capitol Square. A small basement fire was the villain. The Family Foundation staff is back at work at advancing conservatism and traditional family values to the consternation of secular progressives across The Old Dominion. I, however, remain at a secret, secure location. A serious thanks to the Richmond Fire Department and the building's staff for their quick responses and professionalism in minimizing something that could have gone undetected and morphed into something more serious.

Backpeddling

Don't you just love all the media pundits, mainstream media types and liberal political consultants who have spent the last 10 days backpeddling faster than Michael Phelps swims to anyone and everyone who will listen that the Virginia Republican earthquake/landslide/nuking wasn't a conservative win when they spent the last two months spending millions of dollars and filing scores of stories trying to paint Bob McDonnell as a right wing Pat Robertson acolyte, Bill Bolling as an evil capitalist insurance executive, and Ken Cuccinelli as an 1860's states rightist? Not that those caricatures define conservatism but you can't say your opponents are far outside the mainstream then claim they won only because they did a better job getting to the middle than your guys did. Not to mention the six seat gain in the House of Delegates in areas of the state liberals thought they owned. When 74 percent of McDonnell voters said they were "unhappy with the direction they (Obama administration) are taking Washington and the country" there's every reason to believe they expect a good dose of Virginia conservatism to counter Washington's hyper liberalism. November 3 was a conservative upheaval.

Virginia News Stand: May 27, 2009

Lots of campaign news today, as one might expect, as Brian Moran racks up more endorsements, and Virginia Republicans gear up for their nominating convention this weekend. But most of the big stuff concerns yesterday's California Supreme Court decision upholding that state's recently ratified constitutional amendment defining marriage as a between one man and one woman, and President Barack Obama's selection of U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.  There are several good articles and commentaries on these subjects in the National News and Commentary sections below. Also, please read Bobby Eberle's rejoinder to retired General Colin Powell regarding his campaign to minimize conservatism in the Republican Party. Finally, be sure to read about a bill one congressman has introduced that would make 2010 "The Year of the Bible" — and his co-sponsors include members of both parties, as well as Christian and Jewish members. 

News:

Virginians critique nominee (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Moran picking up local support (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

Democrats' Inside Man Steps Into Spotlight (Washington Post)

GOP hopefuls for Fralin's House seat hold forum (Roanoke Times

McDonnell backs Mullins for chairman of state GOP (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

GOP will choose slate of state candidates this weekend (Winchester Star)

LU Democrats club to meet with Falwell today (Lynchburg News & Advance

National News:

Calif. Ruling Shows Hurdles Remain for Gay Marriage (Washington Post)

Don't expect smooth sailing for Sotomayor (OneNewsNow.com)

For Sotomayor, discrimination case likely issue (AP/GOPUSA.com)

2010: The year of the Bible? (OneNewsNow.com)

Commentary:

'Empathy' in Action (Thomas Sowell/GOPUSA.com)

Sotomayor: Racial Politics and Making Policy (Bobby Eberle/GOPUSA.com)

To Gen. Powell . . . Just Where Have We Gone Too Far To The Right? (Bobby Eberle/GOPUSA.com)

He's Back! Conservative Brit Again Says What American Conservatives Should

In March, British EU Parliament Member Daniel Hannan became an instant international hero (see here) to millions of conservatives, a modern day Brit Patrick Henry, when he told the emperor — Prime Minister Gordon Brown — he had on no clothes, and told him publicly and to his face. Not only did he speak "Truth to Power" as the trite lefties say, he did it with courage, conviction and unapologetically. But what caught so many Americans' attention was that his theme was universal and how apt his message was for an America drifting toward European socialism. But not only socialism in economics, but socialism in the government mandating societal behavior codes and the extinguishing of freedom under the guise of stamping out hate or discrimination, most of which is perceived at best and contrived at worst, for the pretext of government usurpation of individual rights. 

It's the same model for government intervention in separating you from your hard-earned money and the shackles that creates — i.e., the economy can't work so we will take it over and make it work, for you, dear citizen. Never mind the new restrictions, it's all the good of the whole.

Now, watch this recent speech by Hannan, and substitute "Hate Crimes bill" or "FOCA" or "restrictions on medical professional conscience protections" in place of references to the proposed EU "anti-discrimination law" and you'll see Mr. Hannan is spot on. Again. Again, we ask, where is the American conservative who will say these things?

EU MP Daniel Hannan may be the world's leading voice for conservatism and human liberty. His words resonate regarding so many of Washington's newfound liberal initiatives. Will America heed Hannan's call not to follow European socialism? Does the reference to "leaving it up to judges" sound familiar? 

Now That's It's Official, This Is Worth Watching Again

Now that it's official — that President Obama is running the American auto industry with his firing this morning of GM CEO Rick Wagoner (a Richmond native, by the way, who, coincidentally, graduated from the high school where Republicans Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling made their central Virginia campaign kick-off Saturday) — it's time to review the speech that is the buzz of conservatism right now. Just substitute "Mr. President" for "Prime Minster" and Barack Obama for "Gordon Brown" and you have the speech someone, anyone needs to make here before we become completely socialized.

Mark Warner Gets Extra Credit

U.S. Senator Mark Warner likes to position himself as the consummate middle man — not one, says he of himself, of either extreme. We're not so sure of that. After all, the man couldn't bring himself to sign the partial birth abortion law when he was governor. The General Assembly, with broad bipartisan support, overrode him on it. Supporting the extreme brutality of partial birth abortion isn't exactly a middle of the road position.  However, Virginia's new junior senator did show some good policy sense as well a bit of bravery in bucking the majority of his party on March 10. He was one of only two Democrats who voted to keep Washington, D.C.'s school choice law from expiring (see the Club For Growth here). We applaud him for that. (West Virginia's Robert Byrd was the other Democrat and Connecticut's independent, Joe Lieberman, who caucuses with the Democrats, also voted to extend the law.) Nevertheless, the amendment failed. Unless something changes, D.C. school children, who have vastly improved their test scores and other measurements of success over the last several years because of the school choice law, will revert to the old, monopolistic, failed public school paradigm — Go to school where you're told young man and young lady!

Of course, modern American liberalism claims to be for change, moving forward, progress, and not returning to the "old, backward ways" that conservatism supposedly represents. But educational choice and the competition it fosters among schools is change from the old ways; it has moved D.C. students forward in their educational development; and, accordingly, they have made progress in their lives. Allowing school choice to die in D.C. is a return to the old ways of the ineffective, inefficient education monopoly — unless, of course, you are extremely wealthy and can afford the suburban D.C. prep schools. So, which philosophy represents the little guy?

Everyone agrees education is one of the pillars in leading a productive life. Yet some in Congress apparently don't want disadvantaged students to get that leg up, despite the popularity of school choice among D.C.'s parents, politicians and students.

President Obama campaigned in favor of school choice while sending his children to elite private schools. It remains to be seen whether he will try to rectify this sad turn of legislative events. His endeavors to exert government control over currently free enterprises is not a good omen for fostering competition in government run schools. However, at least Mark Warner understood. Although we may disagree with him on many other issues, at least on this one, he deserves extra credit.