Thursday, February 07, 2008

Where Have The True Conservatives Gone?

I don't know about you, but I am sick and tired of hearing the collective groan by the supposed conservatives of the Republican party about John McCain's frontrunner status. They want to know how something like this could happen. It is interesting that a man who has backstabbed his own party so many times is now in the lead to represent that party nationally. So what happened? Like most things the answer has many different components to it. I can't point to one thing and say, "This is what brought the Republican party to this point." With that being said let me offer a few of observations about what has happened to the GOP.

The first observation is George W. Bush destroyed conservatism in the Republican party. Tell me what did George Bush do during his eight years that was in line with conservative ideals? Yes, he cut taxes. He also got us into a unnecessary war and dramatically increased the size of government. How would McCain be more liberal or unconservative than President Bush already is?

This leads into a second observation: we don't know what conservatism is. Conservatism is about the role of government in our lives. Part of the problem is that the term conservative has been hijacked by people who believe that it is the government's role to promote their ethic. Religious Right I am looking at you. What followed was that conservatism started to be equated with the agenda of the Religious Right, and now they are upset because McCain hasn't courted their favor as other candidates have. That is one of the reasons why George Bush is a hero in their eyes while McCain is a villain. The basics of conservatism are following the rule of law (in our case the Constitution), limited government (including low taxes), a sound financial system, a strong defense, and the protection of personal liberty. Out of all the candidates for president, on both sides of the aisle, which one has even talked about one of these things (let alone all of them)? The answer is Ron Paul (the only true conservative left in the race), but I forget that he is a kook and unelectable. When you settle for something less than true conservatism don't be surprised when "hard liberals" emerge at the surface.

A third observation is that talk radio, and Rush Limbaugh I am primarily talking about you because you set the standard for everyone else to follow, has become anti-liberal rather than pro-conservative. Every time I turned on Rush through December and January he was talking about the Clintons (Clinton, Inc.). He wasn't talking about why conservative ideas were superior just trashing the Clintons. Now he is making it known why McCain is a liberal, not why conservative ideas are good for the nation. After listening to Rush I can't help but conclude that he has forgotten what true conservatism is (which is sad because Rush used to be a great voice of conservatism and I learned about it at his feet). Rush is the best at what he does and I still enjoy listening to him (unlike Hannity who I can't stomach). Rush get back to talking about conservative ideas. You have always said that ideas win elections. So why did you stop talking about conservative ideas in order to become anti-Clinton Inc.?

True conservatism is dead in this country. We have very few candidates who run on a truly conservative agenda and those who do are labeled unelectable. I want to say to all those so-called conservatives complaining about McCain that this is what happens when you choose to win elections rather than standing up for what is right.


Anonymous said...

I disagree. Conservatism is not dead in this country. We have just lost focus. After all, I'm still here.

Conservatism is about the role of government in our lives.

This is very true. And I would add to that the importance of local government. That when we see problems in our communities, we should first seek to solve them ourselves, with the help of private organizations. If something governmental is needed, we should be looking at our local legislatures and state governments, not immediately organizing on a national level.

I have heard a number of conservatives say they will stay home this November. That is the worst possible scenario. Go ahead and refuse to vote for McCain. Leave the slot blank or vote third party. Or vote for Clinton for all I care.

But get to know your local legislators. Know who is up for school board. Know the judges on the ballot. Make an informed choice for every slot on that ballot. Conservatives in these positions will be more important now than ever...and these will be our future leaders.

More thoughts along this vein.

Danny Vice said...

While I fully understand the angst of Conservatives in their policy opposition to John McCain blunders like Illegal immigration, Conservatives are beginning to amaze me in their inability to see the larger picture.

While I also disagree with McCain on a dozen issues or so, the alternative is not just four years of 'sitting it out' as some have proposed.

Many talk radio hosts have battled a McCain nomination. Even Focus On The Family Director Dr. Dobson (who I admire ) has declared his refusal to vote for McCain.

This astonishes me because it’s the same as saying “if we don’t get the conservative I want, We’ll let the country go to hell in a hand basket.”

This, in my opinion is very dangerous and makes our future prospects harder - since our children will be growing up in the aftermath of such a decision.

Anti McCain pundits and commentators such as Rush Limbaugh have ventured the idea that perhaps we should sit this election out and let the Dems have a term in office, claiming it might pave the way for a future shot at a candidate he and others will like in four years.

While I understand these expressions of dismay, I think it’s shortsighted. Imagine the damage our country will endure if Democrats control all three branches of government for 4 to 8 years. .

This would give liberals what they will treat as a clear sign from America that is it ready to move sharply to the left. Conservatism will lose most of it’s teeth and the liberal agenda could easily reverse all of the progress we’ve made in the war on terror, Tax reduction, Pro Life, and other extremely important issue.

We can always address the issue of immigration again in 4 years. What we cannot afford to see happen is a liberal agenda that makes illegal immigration the least of our country’s problems. Our country may be so torn up, it won’t have the time to even visit the issue, like we can today.

There is no such thing as a quick recovery from 4 years of liberalism unchecked. We may be facing what will take years and years of damage to undo. What’s more, there’s no guarantee that it WILL be undone. The passage of even one single liberal law is extremely difficult to outlaw - as if Roe V Wade hasn’t taught us this already!

Rush Limbaugh and others may revel in 4 years of liberal destruction as a talk radio host who can use the material, however all it takes is one liberal judge appointed to the Supreme Court to unravel the one ace we’ve achieved in the last 8 years. This doesn’t occur to me as a smart decision for Conservatives to be making..

As Evangelical Conservatives know, Pride cometh before the fall, and I hope they will study that verse before deciding to approach this election with dismay rather than enthusiasm.

Questioning McCain was right and highly useful for a time and a season. But there are greater threats looming on our horizon than John McCain.

It’s time to put our differences aside and get with the business assuring our children, they will not grow up in a socialist, liberally dominated world. This may be our cross roads, and it is certainly no time to be staying home on Election Day.

Danny Vice
The Weekly Vice

ThaLunatic Daily

Paul Steele said...

Thanks for the comments, but I must not have been very clear in what I was trying to say because the point was missed.

The point is that conservatism, as I understand, doesn't really exist in this country. I don't know if it ever has. What we call conservatives are not really conservatives but value voters. They have certain values (morals) that drive the way they vote. So called republicans shouldn't be upset with McCain because they have sold out conservatism as well.

Let me give you an example. Ron Paul is said to favor legalizing drugs and prostitution. The same is true for abortion and gay marriage. That is not the case. He doesn't believe the federal government has the power to govern such things, that it is a state issue. Limited federal government, in line with true conservative principles, but because he doesn't do things on a federal level he is a kook and a loon and unelectable. You can't talk about getting involved at the local level when you have given all the power to the federal government.

Conservative principled people are few and far between. What makes up the bulk of the Republican party are Conservative issue people. People who are willing to forsake the rule of law to get their agenda passed. That is why I don't see any difference between McCain and any of the other Republican candidates (except Ron Paul). They are all willing to allow the federal government play too much of a role in our lives.

Anonymous said...

Paul, I still disagree with you. The values voters are a certain part of the conservative side of politics, but I think you are focusing too narrowly on them.

It seems as if you are looking at Ron Paul's lack of support as evidence of a lack of conservatism, but I do not think this is fair. I don't think Ron Paul has been that successful in explaining what he stands for. He has raised a lot of money from conspiracy theorists who are not well-respected, has this old newsletter thing hanging over his head and he has made a number of statements which draw concern to those worried about America's security in the face of terrorism.

I'm not debating whether any of this is right or wrong, but rejecting his "message" isn't the same as rejecting conservativism. I don't think most people really ever go to listening to much of what he had to say.

Paul Steele said...

Thanks for the comment. I guess I am still not very clear in what I am saying. So let me number this out.

1. I don't know why "conservatives" in the Republican party are upset with McCain because they have abandoned conservative principles a long time ago.

2. The only candidate who talked about basic conservative principles was Ron Paul and he is consistently overlooked. Don't get me wrong there were other candidates who conservative on certain issues but failed to talk about the principles behind the issues, which is a huge problem for the conservative movement right now. Yes, Dr. Paul has problems, and I never thought he was electable, but his message of personal liberty, limited government, a sound monetary system, and a return to the Constitution is one we need to hear. That has always been the reason I have supported him. So it is not a lack of support of Ron Paul, but the lack of the conservative message that I find troubling.

3. There is not a good voice of true conservatism out there. It used to be Rush, but he lost some where along the line. Perhaps it is the drug issue and the serial marriages, but I just find he less credible than I used to.

Thanks for stopping by Dana, but to be honest this isn't what this blog is about. Paul's Ponderings is about encouraging Christians. That is what I want to do. I wrote this post to get a couple of things off my chest, but I don't want to get distracted by the politics of this world. At the end of the day what this world needs in Jesus. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that will change the lives of people, not conservatism, so I need to focus on what I was called to do.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about the message of liberty. I really wish there had been more of a discussion regarding Paul, but I think he was the wrong candidate at the wrong time.

And I totally respect that your blog isn't a political one. Mine isn't either, although it is probably pretty clear where my politics generally lie. : )

I think it is good as Christians to look at the issue of politics and how we should act in this world. But it can also be easy to become distracted by it and get to focused on the world.

God bless. You have a nice a blog and a lot of thought provoking posts. I am just the eternal optimist, and am not ready to declare my beliefs dead nor resign myself to more than four years of what I think is coming. Things always swing back...and we know who is in control. : )

Accept the Differences

Most of us understand that people are different and those differences are a good thing. The world would be a boring place if everyone beli...