Let’s be honest with each other, shall we?
Brothers and sisters in arms within the conservative movement are dealing body blows to each other, and the four-decade surge conservatism had enjoyed is now suffering accordingly.
Until recently, the raucous sibling factions held their tongues and kept their political differences largely under wraps. But the disputes between the various factions of the conservative movement are becoming increasingly more public and counterproductive.
Sparring within a family isn’t always a bad thing. In my own family, my brother, sister and I fought like bobcats chasing after a raccoon at midnight, but the rivalries were just as important a part of our family bonding as the more tender times we shared.
And should anyone from the outside take aim at one of us, you could count on us to watch each other’s back and form a united front.
The different sibling sects of conservatism have much more in common than what divides us, although it’s hard to remember that right now with the rank smell of cordite in the air from liberal attacks.
The family tree
Today’s conservative family tree has four branches to it.
- Economic conservatives who believe in free markets and reduced/limited government intervention and regulation.
- Social conservatives who want to preserve a culture of Judeo-Christian values where the institution of family is cherished as the cocoon that nurtures our children with the values of decency, honesty, justice and compassion.
- Cultural conservatives who are fighting to maintain an American identity based on democratic principles and the Melting Pot model that takes the best immigrants have to offer and making it part of the American ideal.
- National security conservatives who helped propel the Reagan revolution with the cause of “Peace Through Strength.” They are anti-communist, and non-appeasers who today advance a similar message as it relates to the threats from Islamofacism.
These four branches were not always united, and it took the ideological firepower of William F. Buckley to make the compelling case that conservatives needed to unite.
Blanche, where have we gone wrong?
Despite noble attempts to keep these various conservative factions working together, such as the gatherings at the American Conservative Union’s CPAC convention, the conservative movement is today in danger of a crackup.
For example, how is it that one of the basic tenets of conservatism, fiscal responsibility, could be the area our movement has most noticeably jumped the tracks?
After decades of liberal Democrat rule in Congress that showcased massive big-government spending and stifling tax increases, things were supposed to change with the 1990’s political revolution that brought fiscally conservative Republicans to power.
But today’s Republican members of Congress make the liberal Democrat drunken sailors of the past look sober by comparison.
What’s worse is that the Bush White House has not only gone along with the program by refusing to veto congressional spending increases, but also helping to promote new big-government programs such as the prescription-drug plan fiasco and No Child Left Behind.
Meanwhile, the American identity is in danger of being hijacked by those who believe America should have no borders.
The La Raza crowd has taken to the streets demanding amnesty for those who break our laws and enter our nation illegally. And they believe that American taxpayers should provide them unlimited benefits.
For over 25 years, we have looked the other way when it came to securing our borders, just so corporations could enjoy a quick fix of cheap labor, even as the associated social-welfare costs bankrupted our communities.
What is most disturbing has been to watch as some conservatives are bowing to the threats of political retribution from the illegal-alien crowd. These spineless politicians are more concerned about the ramifications at the voting booth than the American principle of rule of law.
Retreat on the right in the face of terrorism
Constitutionalists and libertarians, who are abandoning the war on terrorism because they don’t want to do any of the heavy lifting, must also share some of the blame for the fraying of conservatism.
When the government tried to crack down on the activities of terrorists already operating in the United States with the Patriot Act, civil libertarians screamed that this was George Orwell’s “1984” Big Brother totalitarianism coming to control our lives.
Despite their predictions that private content on people’s computers would be exposed or that government agents would be listening in to intimate chats with their sexual partners, there has not been a mass pattern of government misconduct and abuse. Except for those Middle Eastern members of Islamic Jihad who are here on expired visas – planning to bomb a nightclub in New York – these people have probably had their phones tapped.
The libertarians and constitutionalists have been little better in their stance on the war on terrorism on foreign shores. In spite of the incontrovertible evidence of Saddam Hussein’s funding and harboring of terrorist organizations and the newly released evidence of additional ties between Iraq and al-Qaida, “conservative” opponents of the war effort have nonetheless continued their cries of protest against Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The National Libertarian Party website goes so far as to equate President Bush with Osama bin Laden. Unlike the Peace Through Strength model that many Libertarians supported in the Cold War, today the official Libertarian Party website says, “problems are solved by peaceful cooperation.” Unless of course the people you are supposed to be cooperating with wish to behead you and blow up the school your children attend.
If you are going to have a values-neutral approach that equates terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism with the democratic freedoms of the West, then you will never have anything worth preserving or defending.
Looking for Sharon
We can’t deny that it’s hot, sticky and steamy under the Big Tent of conservatism these days. Tempers are flaring, and a lot of people are smokin’ mad.
But we’ve got to find a way to reach a broad consensus on how to move the conservative agenda forward.
On Sept. 11, 1960, conservative leaders brainstormed at William F Buckley Jr.’s estate in Sharon, Conn. The end result was pure genius in the form of a document called the “Sharon Statement,” which outlined the core principles of a new conservative movement that would lead to the formation of Young Americans for Freedom.
The “Sharon Statement” outlined the conservative principles that would guide a generation of activists. Those campus activists grew up and captured the attention of a nation for their ideas and beliefs that eventually led to conservative electoral success.
Ronald Reagan’s presidency provided a Shining City on a Hill that these disparate conservative groups could together take shelter in.
Now it’s time for a new “Sharon Statement.” The grown-ups in the conservative movement can put an end to the circular gunfire, and sketch out a path for America’s future. Instead of shooting at each other, let’s start taking aim at the banshees on the Left like Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Al Franken, Chuckie Schumer and Howard Dean.
If we don’t get our acts together, these raccoons will be running the country. Isn’t it time our family of bobcats worked out our differences to make sure this never happens?