Following the defeat of 2012, it seems as if everyone – yours truly included – has an opinion about where the conservative movement goes from here. But right now presents an excellent opportunity to rally the Right again.
Following the fiscal cliff fiasco, the next big battle inside the beltway will be the debt ceiling in March. Some Republicans who caved on the fiscal cliff are already talking tough. Take Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, for example. After voting for the largest tax increase in 20 years, Toomey is one of several Republicans now saying the debt ceiling showdown may require a government shutdown if Democrats insist on more tax increases.
So with some key Republicans already throwing down the gauntlet now is the time for the conservative movement to re-assert itself. The time for the licking of wounds has past. The time for leadership has arrived. We’re at our best when we let our principles lead the way. The two times I can remember the right-of-center coalition of evangelicals, conservative Catholics, libertarians, and the pro-growth/limited taxation crowd being truly unified since the 2004 election were the 2010 midterm elections and Scott Walker’s recall in Wisconsin last year.
Because those elections were clearly about principles, and principles unite us. Unlike Democrats who join that party out of identity politics, we become Republicans because of principles like the ones found in the party platform.
And the Republican Party platform is clear about two things: the rule of law has the obligation to protect the God-given right to life, and the government big enough to give you everything you need is large enough to take away everything you have. We have been struggling for a message that puts both of these principles into practice simultaneously. One that bypasses the in-fighting plaguing our movement for years now, and mobilizes and energizes our grassroots to go on offense. The debt ceiling showdown provides us that opportunity.
Planned Parenthood received more than $542 million from the government last year, which means an astounding 45% of its revenue came from the American taxpayer. Every one of us would agree that is simply inexcusable. Some of us may believe that based simply on the sanctity of life, given that Planned Parenthood is one of the leading child killers in America. Some of us may believe that’s simply a terrible waste of the people’s money at a time we’re flat broke and a symbol of our misplaced priorities. Both of us recognize Planned Parenthood is one of the Left’s major political fundraisers. Regardless of the premise we all come to the same conclusion.
Thus, now is the time for all of us to use this issue as a catalyst that unifies our various factions behind a shared principle—absolutely no increase in the debt ceiling should even be considered until all money for the child killing industry is removed from the budget.
If we’re going to consider these things “private moral matters” then it is intolerable to ask the taxpayer to subsidize it, especially at a time when we’re flat broke and taxes are going up on everybody. If we wouldn’t ask the taxpayers to buy your next shot of tequila, jolt of trans-fats, or drag from a cigarette then we shouldn’t ask them to buy your next condom or abortion. If someone wants to get their freak on, they can buy their own birth control pills or dental dams.
This week on my radio show Dr. Thomas Woods, one of the most respected libertarian thinkers in the country, agreed with me. “Even if you’re a pro-abortion libertarian you don’t believe the taxpayer should be funding it,” Woods said.
If we cannot get Republicans to hold the line on this at this crucial time in our history, then there really is no point to having a Republican Party (or at the very least to having these Republicans). If the conservative movement isn’t willing to take the lead in forcing their hand, then there really is no point to our movement other than selling books and syndicating radio shows like my own. This is an easy first step to re-unify for the much bigger and longer battles that await us to return to constitutional government.
Concern over the growth of government, and the resulting loss of personal freedom, is what gave birth to the modern conservative movement. Concern about the sanctity of life is what swelled the ranks of the movement with Catholics who were once predominantly Democrats and evangelicals who previously didn’t even vote en masse. Regardless of which of those issues most trips your trigger, we cannot take back control of the Republican Party without each of them working in concert. And the Republican Party is worthless if we don’t wrestle away control from the cynical, feckless, and ineffective party establishment.
But we need a message to unify and mobilize us that is based on shared principles. This message does that. It allows us to walk and chew gum at the same time. Instead of both sides fighting each other for control of the movement, we unite a movement around a shared principle to fight the real enemies to liberty and morality. We are better together. We cannot win if we’re not united. But calls for unity for unity’s sake fall on deaf ears. We must lead on genuine principle to create genuine unity.
We must rally the right for such a time as this, and this is the simple yet principled message to do it. Either we hang together or we will all hang alone. If we can’t hang together on this one, then I’m not sure where we can.