I had an interesting conversation on Facebook earlier this week after posting this graphic. One of my friends decided to use this as an opportunity to lambaste me for sticking to conservative ideals. To sum up our conversation ... she believed that Republicans lose because they support causes such as life, gun rights, traditional marriage, and securing the borders. I, of course, insisted we must stand for conservative principles, but I never really mentioned the fact that I was not a Republican (but, a conservative). This exchange with my Facebook friend got me to thinking: has the GOP establishment brainwashed the majority of conservatives into believing it is best to stay silent on principles to win elections? The answer to that question is NO. But, it will take a lot of work to undo the damage that is being done to the psyche of conservatives in this country, because there are a large number in the Republican establishment (aided by the conservative media) that share her views. We have a lot of work to do.
I am currently reading Erick Erickson's book - Red State Uprising: How To Take Back America and Erickson does a masterful job of explaining why retreating from conservative ideals not only results in a more progressive and growing government, but it actually diminishes opportunities for success. People are hungry for truth-tellers, for leaders who are passionate, articulate, intelligent, and who offer real and lasting solutions. People are tired of politicians who say anything, do anything just to get elected .. but then fail to deliver on any of their promises. People are tired of politicians who put loyalty to their party ahead of loyalty to this country and the American people. Voters detest candidates who hide their true convictions .. and despise those who pretend to support causes, when their actions are not indicative of that support.
We need to know what we believe and articulate those beliefs with confidence to those who are searching for answers. Conservatism may not be as popular as it was during the days of Ronald Reagan, but that is only because conservatives have been silent. We need a voice .. we need to step forth with boldness. Retreat is never a path to victory. Don't be duped by those who would crush the conservative movement in this country. Anyone who tells you that you should stay silent on your principles has either been deceived by the cautious and retreating Republican establishment, or they are actually working to wipe out the conservative movement. Neither of these groups are your friends.
One of the best cases of how grassroots conservatism can appeal to the masses was the election of Senator Ted Cruz from Texas. He was an unknown when he decided to step into the race to face the powerful Lieutenant Governor of Texas, David Dewhurst. The GOP establishment quickly rushed to embrace the candidacy of Dewhurst and painted Cruz as extreme and unelectable. Remarkably, Cruz went from 2% in the polls to coming in 2nd in the general election and prevented Dewhurst from reaching the 50% of votes needed to avert a run-off. Cruz went on to win the run-off with Dewhurst by 14% to the astonishment of the GOP party leadership in Austin (and Washington, D.C.). All the conventional wisdom gave Cruz ZERO chance against the powerful (and much better known) Dewhurst, but the truth-telling Cruz was just the right candidate to break through the establishment controlled process (and media) to bring in the votes and grab the power from the establishment.
Now, my Facebook friend pointed out that Texas voters are more conservative than the rest of this country .. and, as such, she felt the Cruz victory was something that could only happen in Texas. I don't agree with that .. and here are just a few more examples to indicate that thinking is wrong.
- California elected Ronald Reagan as governor. Reagan won the presidency in a landslide. He took both blue and red states. Reagan ran proudly as a conservative. He supported gun rights, life, traditional marriage, and limited government. He never backed down from conservative ideals. Reagan's conservatism was not a detriment to his political viability, it was an asset.
- Marco Rubio ran as a tea party conservative in Florida against the establishment candidate Charlie Crist. He supported gun rights, life, opposed excessive government regulation and lambasted the bloated and ineffective federal welfare system. He handily beat Crist (who is now a member of the Democratic party). Rubio never backed down from conservative ideals. Rubio's conservatism was not a detriment to his political viability, it was an asset.
- Deb Fischer ran as a staunch conservative Senate candidate in Nebraska. She supported life, gun rights, opposed EPA regulations and had a tough stance on illegal immigration. The same state that had elected the liberal Ben Nelson awarded Fischer with a victory. Fischer's conservatism was not a detriment to her political viability, it was an asset.
- Rick Snyder ran as a pro-life and pro-family candidate for governor of Michigan. He had a strong platform that opposed the big labor unions. Running as a conservative in the deep blue state of Michigan seemed like the longest of long-shots, but Snyder won the race. He subsequently signed into law some of the most sweeping union-busting reforms in recent history. Snyder's conservatism was not a detriment to his political viability, it was an asset.
There are many more conservatives that we could add to this list, but having said that, the number of other examples is not nearly as large as it could be. If only MORE conservatives would simply stand up for their ideals and not run and hide (as is suggested by the GOP establishment). The GOP establishment has been feeding us the lie that conservatism loses since Reagan. In spite of the numerous victories showing that thinking is wrong, anti-conservative establishment types still have a firm grip on the GOP party apparatus, and, as such, they often discourage conservative candidates from entering races, they discourage candidates from fighting for conservative principles, they dismiss the idea that conservative principles can be (and often are) appealing to the majority of voters, and worst of all, they sometimes actually fight against candidates who have a strong conservative platform. (Karl Rove is doing precisely that, now)
That must change. We can not win if we don't fight. Our principles are not crazy or extreme, in spite of the 24/7 propaganda war to the contrary. If we don't articulate our message, and if we are not willing to stand up and fight for conservative principles, then we cede government to the progressives. That is not an option. When it comes to the battle for the hearts and minds of Americans, failure is not an option. Stand proud, conservative warriors.