In a 2007 column for the Washington Post in which he was trying to convince conservatives to support RINOs like John McCain and Rudy Giuliani for president, George Will said “conservatism comes in many flavors.”
And that’s the problem.
The good news is conservatism has become a powerful default brand name like Coca-Cola. Almost no one goes to a restaurant or a movie theater and orders a Pepsi, even if they prefer it. The default brand to ask for is Coke, because the brand has become so powerful it’s embedded in the subconscious of most Americans. On the other hand, liberal has become so tainted the Left had to adopt the term “progressive” instead.
The bad news is conservatism has become a powerful default brand name like Coca-Cola, so that even those who prefer Pepsi still ask for a Coke, which means they don’t really know the difference until they taste it. With everybody in American politics slightly to the right of Chairman Mao calling themselves a “conservative” nowadays, most Americans have yet to taste the difference between conservatism, liberalism, and outright statism.
While most of us became conservatives based on definable moral absolutes and a proactive issue agenda based on clearly defined principles, conservatism itself is no longer defined by those things. As former Congressman J.C. Watts recently told me, conservatism has devolved from a movement to an industry.
Now someone can be for state sanctioned child killing and be a conservative.
Now someone can be for a level of human depravity even pagan cultures didn’t teach their children be a conservative.
Now someone can sign into law government-imposed mandates upon the free market and be a conservative.
Now someone can be for amnesty and be a conservative.
Now someone can be for nation building and be a conservative.
Now someone can violate our God-given gender roles and be a conservative.
Now someone can reject “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” and replace it with unelected judges making up the law as they go and be a conservative.
Now someone can cozy up to Islam and be a conservative.
Now someone can be for the biggest welfare state programs in American history until Obama entered the White House and be a conservative.
Now someone can support TSA agents groping you like a hormonally overeager teenage boy searching for second base and be a conservative.
Now someone can be for allowing military drones to monitor U.S. citizens and be a conservative.
Now someone can be for allowing the federal government to indefinitely detain American citizens without a trial or a charge and be a conservative.
Now someone can vote to raise the debt ceiling, continue funding broke welfare state entitlements, printing a fiat currency, bailing out companies “too big to fail,” and maintaining unconstitutional departments of the federal government and be a conservative.
Nobody’s perfect, and we all have blind spots. But if all or several of these things allow someone to be a conservative then nobody is. Or the term “conservative” essentially lacks any substantive meaning and has deteriorated into a platitude for the Republican Party to replace its own tainted brand name with. Perhaps I’m alone, but given what is currently defined as conservative I hesitate to even call myself one.
Essentially the media and the Republican Party establishment define everybody with an “R” after their name as a conservative, regardless of what they stand for. Apparently the linchpin to being a conservative is to simply not be a Democrat, which means the further left the Democrat Party goes the further left they drag the Republican Party along with them from the rear. Those of us who resist this pull towards dragging western civilization over the edge of the cliff at a slower pace than the statists are labeled “haters,” “religious bigots,” “purists,” “not team players,” and “obstructionists” by those who have fallen for the groupthink.
Republican vs. Democrat is no longer about issues but identity. It’s almost like a sports rivalry for some people. Like Yankees vs. Red Sox, or my favorite Michigan vs. Ohio State. Too many people get an emotional rush or letdown based on Republicans vs. Democrats like they do their favorite sports team winning and losing. Even the way we are covering politics daily in this county is indistinguishable from the way ESPN covers sports. We focus on personalities and payouts, just like the sports media does. Issues like someone’s personal integrity – or lack thereof – take a back seat to the daily horserace. It’s all about the technocratic means of serving the political machine, and not about the principles that each candidate stands for. It used to be because I believe “blank” I am a Republican. Now it’s because I’m a Republican I believe “blank.”
Sadly, the comments section of many conservative blogs and websites devolves into a right-of-center variation of the uninformed circular reasoning and cult-like worship of a political party and its superstars that led to the Obamaessiah phenomenon on the Left. Too many folks watch Fox News and disregard all other media in an effort to get their ears tickled. The problem is most of their cowardly politicians spend more time caring about what the leftists who hate them at the other media outlets think, and not trying to please the conservatives on Fox News. Instead they take the Fox News viewer for granted and assume you’ll support them no matter how much they betray you, just because they’re the Republican.
This is what happens when we cease being defined by objective standards of what we’re actually for, and instead become defined and find our identity in what we’re against. A system that doesn’t want to be reformed gets exactly what it wants.
The last two primary cycles have thankfully produced some signs those of us out here in the grassroots are starting to awaken from this slumber. Yet unless something drastic happens soon it might be a case of too little, too late. We’ve recently received three painful reminders of the neverending stench from the rotten fruit produced by such pointless and unprincipled partisan efforts.
• This week Republican Speaker John Boehner indicated he plans on fully funding the government when the debt ceiling comes up again September 30th, which includes the funding of Obamacare. If Obamacare is such a threat to the future of the republic, then shouldn’t the Republican Party do something about it? Especially when you consider according to the Constitution all appropriations (government spending) must begin in the House. Who controls that chamber? Why the Republicans do. They could stop Obamacare by simply refusing to fund it, even if that risks a government shutdown. Last year Vice President Joe Biden said the Democrats would shut the government down if Republicans didn’t cave on funding the child killers at Planned Parenthood, and of course cave is what the Republicans did (and usually do). Is it too much to ask the guys we elect to show the same courage of conviction? And don’t give me anymore excuses about the mainstream media killing them for taking a stand when the country is burning. They took an oath of office before Almighty God to uphold and defend the Constitution, but I’m sure He’ll overlook that whole taxpayer funding for child killing thing because He’s sympathetic to not making the New York Times mad.
• As of the end of the fiscal year on June 30th, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has enacted federal spending bills increasing the national debt more in their two-year term than the first 97 U.S. Congresses combined. Sure, they haven’t passed any of President Obama’s bloated budgets, but they continue to fund the welfare state at whose altar he worships.
• In May the Club For Growth released a rather depressing report, which said the Tea Party freshman class of 2010 haven’t voted much different than the failed and gutless GOP establishment they were sent there to challenge. The most blatant example: only 14 of the 87 Tea Party freshmen signed a pledge promising to vote for the “cut, cap, and balance” deficit reduction plan. According to Club For Growth, none other than Tea Party darling Allen West was one of the biggest disappointments, who only voted for less government 64% of the time, which the group described as “an anemic” score. Club For Growth President Chris Chocola was quoted in the Washington Times saying, “The liberal media likes to pretend that these Republicans have fought for fiscally conservative policies, but the facts don’t support their thesis. Just because the Republicans have a majority does not mean that more pro-growth policies have been passed."
“Just because the Republicans have a majority (or the White House) doesn’t mean (fill in the blank).” Where have we heard that before?
Legions more principled men and women who represent causes and constituencies trying to save this republic have experienced firsthand Chocola’s lament. Who knows, maybe it will even end up being the epitaph on the tombstone of the Constitution, once the statists get done rolling all the Republicans and “conservatives” we elect who just roll over and play dead for them.
We need an alternative to this systemic failure that is enabling the destruction of this nation. In next week’s column I will propose one.
Steve Deace's nationally-syndicated radio show airs coast-to-coast each weeknight from 9-Midnight eastern, including many of the Salem Radio Network's top conservative talk stations in markets like New York City, Houston, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Minneapolis. His radio program has been featured in major media such as Fox News, CBS News, ABC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Politico, The Weekly Standard, and National Review among others. In 2013 he wrote the second-most shared column of the year for USA Today, defending "Duck Dynasty" and traditional American values. In addition to being a contributor for Town Hall.com, Deace is also a columnist for The Washington Times. He is also the author of the new book Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again, which includes a foreword by David Limbaugh and is endorsed by a who's who of conservative leaders. You can follow him on Twitter @SteveDeaceShow.