Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Conservatives: A Warning

This article is not an attack on conservatism. It is a warning.

Nor is this a suggestion that conservatives should moderate.

In fact, each of you knows that I’m solidly conservative in my views. I believe not only that conservative principles are the only political principles that will make the world a better place, but also that they are the only truly moral principles one can hold. Only conservatism respects the rights and dignity of man, while liberalism seeks to make us slaves of others’ charity. And while we occasionally make mistakes, it is usually more the result of poor execution or demagoguery from opportunists than it is the result of our principles.

Thus, take it in good faith when I warn you that conservatives are about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Good News
Obama is this generation’s Jimmy Carter. He is discrediting liberalism to an entire generation, and quickly demoralizing the left flank of his party. These should be good times for conservatives.

These should be good times for conservatives within the Republican Party as well. McCain the RINO King convinced everyone that we had to be moderate to succeed. His crushing defeat discredited the RINO cause. They still scream “moderation,” but no one is listening anymore. The RINO philosophy is dead and buried within the party. . . for now.

Indeed, while the Republicans are blowing the Democrats away in fund raising (with Blue Dogs having a particular problem), the RINOs are finding their easy support within the party vanishing. Remember McCaindidate Van Tran (Cal.)? He’s been out raised by another Republican Vietnamese challenger. Trey Grayson, a neocon who supported Clinton, is being blown out by Rand Paul (son of Ron Paul) in Kentucky. Even RINO Charlie Crist (Fla), another McCaindidate, who out raised his Democratic opponent 3-1, is suddenly facing a surging conservative Republican challenger in the primary who has raised more than one million dollars.

Now in New York 23, conservatives have forced the Democratic far left Republican to withdraw from the race so that an actual conservative can win the seat.

Sounds like good times for conservatives, right? Actually no. Conservatives are in danger of turning stunning victory into crashing defeat. Here’s why.
The Problem
Conservatives have the momentum. The Republican Party lies open, ready to be reshaped into the vehicle that brings the great rebirth of conservative America. But at the very moment conservatives should be streaming into the party, filling every empty chair, and seizing control of all levels of power, conservatives instead are throwing a tantrum. Rather than seizing the party, conservatives are talking vaguely of forming a new party. Rather than building and guiding the party, conservatives are destructively tearing it down. This must end lest we squander this victory.
Drop The Third Party Idea
Let’s start with something a lot of people don’t want to hear. Forget the idea of forming a conservative party. First, it can’t be done. Secondly, even if it could, it will only hurt conservatives.

The fact of the matter is that America is a two party system: Republicans and Democrats. Our electoral system and human nature mean that won’t change. A third party can briefly hurt one side or the other, but that’s about it. The only real power that a political movement can achieve is in using the threat of withholding its support to hurt one side or the other. If that threat is great enough, the movement can pull one party into the direction that the movement advocates.

Right now, conservatives have the attention (and fear) of the Republican Party. That is the path to conservative victory, to seize and shape the Republican Party. To fail to do this, because conservatives have utopian dreams of creating a new party, would irresponsibly squander our victory.

Moreover, let’s assume a conservative party of some size did appear. What do you think would be the effect on the country? Would the Republicans move to the right? No. Why should they? Everyone within the GOP who would advocate a turn to the right would have left. Would the Democrats move to the right? Hardly. With the right split in half, they’d be free to move as far left as they wished, knowing they no longer needed even the support of 50% of the population. Would the conservative party become the new majority party? No. If that were likely to happen, the Republican Party would represent 60% of the population today because they are closer to the right than the Democrats, but they don’t. If that were likely to happen, the Conservative Party in New York (where you can be a conservative without hurting the Republican Party because of fusion voting) could attract more than 155,000 registered members compared to 3.1 million Republicans.

Also, New York has had a Conservative Party since 1962, would you say that they have helped move New York politics to the right? Why should the result be different on a national level? And lest you think that New York is somehow just unique, keep in mind that the Libertarian Party has been a national party for decades, but hasn’t managed to move the Republicans or the Democrats one degree toward their cause.

The truth is that parties don’t listen to outsiders, and separating yourself from the inner workings of a party makes you an outsider. Outsiders are the people who refuse to join the committee that selects the location of a banquet and then wonders why they never choose their favorite restaurant. If you want the Republican Party to bend to your will, you must participate within its structures.
Stop Destructive Attacks
And that brings me to the second problem. Conservatives need to stop making destructive attacks on the GOP. Not only do you not want to damage the brand of something you are looking to own, but ill-informed, blanket attacks are not constructive. They do not help what we are trying to achieve.

Criticism that is not constructive is destructive. Criticism that overstates a problem, that falsely accuses, or that fails to give the accused an understanding of what you want changed, is not constructive. Conservatives right now are guilty of all of this. And since the Republican Party is the vehicle we must use, this must stop.

For starters, we need to stop making blanket attacks. Not all Republicans are bad and not everything they do is wrong. If you have a restaurant that you generally like, but you don’t like their hamburgers, does it make sense to categorically trash the restaurant? The same analogy holds for political parties.

People claim that the Republicans aren’t conservatives. But is this true? Do those people who complain know what the leadership believes? Do they even know who the leadership are? Did you know that the House leadership have all earned extremely high lifetime ratings from the American Conservative Union?
• House Minority Leader: John Boehner (ACU rating 93.89)

• Minority Whip: Eric Cantor (ACU rating 96.25)

• Republican Policy Committee Chairman: Thaddeus McCotter (ACU rating 84.5)

• Republican Policy Committee Vice-Chair: Dr. Michael Burgess (ACU 93.83)
The Senate leadership is less conservative, but still firmly conservative:
• Senate Minority Leader: Mitch McConnell (ACU rating 89.4)

• Minority Whip: John Kyl (ACU rating 96.96)

• Republican Conference Chairman: Lamar Alexander (ACU rating 80.83)

• Republican Conference Vice Chair: Lisa Murkowski (ACU rating 70.56)

• Republican Policy Committee Chairman: John Thune (ACU rating 86.77)
Compare these ratings to Olympia Snowe’s 47 rating and Susan Collins’ 49 rating, and Democrats in the teens. Do you still think it’s fair to say these aren’t conservatives?

Ok, you say, they may be conservatives, but they sure haven’t acted like it. Under Bush certainly, but let me point out what they’ve done since the election:
• Only eight House Republicans out of 178 voted for Cap and Trade.

• Only nine Senate Republicans out of 40 voted to confirm Sotomayor.

• Only one Republican in the Senate has voted for ObamaCare.

• No Republicans in the House voted for ObamaCare.

• No Republicans in the House voted to support Obama’s stimulus.

No Republicans supported Obama’s budget in the House or the Senate.

• The Republicans in the Senate held up two of Obama’s State Department Appointments in protest over Honduras.

• And lastly, they announced last night that they will unveil, this week, their own health care plan. It’s not CommentaramaCare, but it’s not just handing out more money to insurance providers.
What part of that don’t you like? And if you don’t like it, what did you do to make it better?

When conservatives continue to whine that the leadership isn’t conservative and they haven’t acted like conservatives, you’ve unfairly failed to credit them with a fairly resurgent form of conservatism. You’ve also made it impossible for them to know how to please you because your feedback is nonsense.

And that’s a critical point. Conservatives must outline what they want from the party. Conservatism means different things to different people. Some see it as only a strong foreign policy. Some see it as purely an abortion issue. Some see it as a smaller government issue. Some see it about personal freedom, others about law and order. And these groups often disagree.

Thus, when you complain: “I want conservatism,” that doesn’t help because the term is largely ambiguous. In other words, if you want your criticism to mean anything, i.e. to be constructive, you need to go further and tell us exactly what conservative policies you want. Just demanding “conservatism” is like taking hostages and then demanding “stuff."

Look beyond the buzzwords and be wary of politicians who wrap themselves in them, and hide behind their ambiguity. Look at people's real records, not just their words (FYI, after the new year, we're going to start looking at the records of possible presidential candidates). Ask yourself, what does "traditional values" mean, what does "conservative" mean, what does "smaller government" mean?
In Conclusion
Conservatives stand on the crest of a dramatic victory. But to complete that victory, they need to recognize it for what it is (it is victory over the Republican Party, not the birth of a new party). They must act accordingly by seizing the Republican Party at all levels. . . participate. They must stop tearing down the party, they must build it up. And they must focus their criticism: aim it at the people and policies that deserve it, and tell us what specifically you want done differently.

Now is the time. We must stop complaining and start instructing. We must recognize the victory that lies before us, and seize it, lest we squander this moment and thereby allow the RINOs to continue on happily, ruling a minority party as Democratic majorities continue to strip away the America that we love.


CrispyRice said...

Great article, Andrew!

I agree thoroughly that the real way to victory is to soundly retake the Republican party and make it more conservative. I think of my own House Rep, Doug Lamborn, and he's a solid conservative. He doesn't get a lot of airtime and he's not all over the media -- and maybe he (and others like him) SHOULD be -- but he votes where it counts and he stands up for what he believes.

I'd also like to add that I've paid attention to what happens in European countries with multiple parties. They build coalitions where the government never gets smaller because there are just more fingers in the pies looking for handouts.

I think we have a golden opportunity to rid the party of the RINOs and we need to seize that right now.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: I just spoke with Ronald Reagan, and he said to tell you "well done." He reminded me that he had to chastise his conservative allies by reminding them that "if they're with us 80%of the time, they're friends."

We have a major battle to fight over the next few years, and it's time for the purists to learn that no two conservatives will define conservatism exactly the same way. The trick is knowing who the enemy is. If a Republican is with us 20% of the time, he or she is a RINO, to be run out of the party (say good bye, Ms. Scuzzyfatso).

The Democrats know the rule of divide and conquer. We don't need to be helping them out with petty quarrels over every issue before us, nor do we need to weaken the more conservative Republican Party by declaring everyone who disagrees with us a RINO. Moderates and independents are the key to elections, and given the opportunity they will vote for the more conservative candidate. But they will not vote for a "true believer" on a white horse coming to save them from those who disagree on a few things.

I dream of a true conservative party some day, but I occasionally dream of owning a Rolls Royce. Great dreams, damned little practical applicability.

More basically put, you play the hand you're dealt. As a conservative by choice, I remain a Republican by default.

AndrewPrice said...

CrispyRice, You just raised a point I hadn't even considered. If you have three parties, then you get deal making between any two of them to get their way. There is no way that a RINO Republican Party will deal with a conservative party on too many issues.

Good call! :-)

JG said...

Good word, sir. Looks like you hit every single base.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks JG, glad you agree! I think we really are on the verge of a great moment, if we do this right!

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I too am a conservative by nature and Republican by default, but I'd love to see that change.

And right now, more than any time in our recent history, I think we have that chance.

P.S. Tell Mr. Reagan thanks!!

Joel Farnham said...


Splendid job in outlining the problems with a third party.

I hope the conservatives understand that this election of NY23 is only one aspect and not to be applied blindly to other races.

Again great article.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: I'll let Mr. Reagan know. LOL

Right now, I'm foreseeing a conservative Republican comeback, and unlike the last time, we'll make it last more than a year after the initial euphoria. That will be the day I too can be a Republican by choice. 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. Bye-bye big government compassionate "conservatism." Hello, Republican Party.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Joel! You're absolutely right. NY23 is a great victory and part of something bigger, but it's also got some unique aspects.

At this point, the conservatives need to complete that victory and the Republican establishment needs to recognize that it's time for a change. Business as usual won't work anymore.

In the end, I think enough people will learn the right lessons and I hope that this all leads to a much better party and a better country!

(P.S. Thanks for the links and the information you sent on NY 23 -- much appreciated.)

Joel Farnham said...


You are the one who got it right. Now, for the rest of the nation.....It remains to be seen.

It is time to take back our party. Not leave it, but to take it back. It is time.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Joel. ;-)

Let's hope everyone catches on! This is an exciting time.

Tennessee Jed said...

I have always been a Republican and probably always will. This was very well said, Andrew. There are other voices out there that get it. Third parties are a loser. Hawk, you and the gipper have it right, if you are with us 80% of the time you ARE a friend. I have certain hot button issues starting with fiscal responsibility, on others, they just are not worth an in house fight.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Jed. I agree. If you start insisting that your candidates share 100% of your views, then you will quickly find a shortage of candidates and you will never get anything you want. I'm not even sure that over time I agree with myself all the time. . . if that makes sense.

We should not accept candidates who are so far to the left that they actively work against us, nor should we accept disloyal politicians, but we do need to acknowledge that there are differences, even among self-described conservatives.

StanH said...

Good points Andrew! If we want to leave Washington in the hands of Barry and his gang, form a third party. My wife and I were sucked into the Perot vortex in ’92, and helped put Slick Willy in the White House with a 42% plurality. NY –23 had no primary, as Lawhawk said Ms. Scuzzyfatso (that was mean Hawk, LOL!) was appointed by party officials in the district with direction from the RNC. The point is - - the primary is where we field conservative candidates, and have our internal fight, but once the field is set vote the party line. The trick however, is once we flip the House and Senate, is keep their feet to the fire, do not disengage. If we do as sure as the Good Lord made little green apples the career beaurocrats (liberals/RINOs) will fill the void and the next thing you know we’re having innate arguments about what’s good for the children, if you get my pun. We have much work to do, and disunity will only guarantee conservative defeat.

AndrewPrice said...

Well said Stan. It is the primaries where we need to fight, to make the party more conservative. And we need to hold the conservatives' feet to the fire to see it through. If they decide to start acting like liberals, then we need to throw them out and replace them with better people. . . a lesson we sadly forgot over the past 6-8 years.

(P.S. A lot of people got pulled in by the Perrot thing. Oh well, past is past, and at least it did get us a really good Congress for a period of time!)

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: I try to avoid it whenever possible, but my liberal friends have been calling me mean-spirited ever since the day I re-registered as a Republican. Sometimes I just can't overcome the urge to let loose with a nastyism. Oh, well. LOL

Writer X said...

I've lived through two independents: John Anderson and Ross Perot. Both didn't turn out so well, despite (I presume) best intentions. I agree with you that an independent candidate is not the answer, nor are a barrage of unconstructive attacks on a party. I would like to point out, though, that the Republicans didn't start to get their mojo until people started getting angry and speaking out this summer. Sometimes aggressive and lively debate does yield results. Hopefully the Republicans will continue to pay attention and voters will continue to stay involved.

Excellent post, Andrew. When do you run for office? (I'm serious)

Joel Farnham said...


How about LawHawk challenging Pelosi? And yes, I AM SERIOUS.

StanH said...

It’s cool with me Lawhawk, I wish I had of said it first, any way we all know you meant it in a loving way, HA! Somehow Barry is bringing out the nastier side. My wife is normally very calm, very sweet person, never a coarse word, since 11/08 she’s been cussing like a sailor (sort of, for her,) especially at Bill O’Reily, go figure. We have reason to be cautiously optimistic, cool!

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, You're right, it took a lot of encouragement to get them moving. But now that they are, we need to change tactics and be more constructive -- we need to give them our list of demands rather than our derision. And, more importantly, we need to start participating so that they can't backslide.

I'm warming to the idea of running for something. . . dog catcher perhaps! I will have to look into it. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, the image of your wife cursing at Bill O'Reilly really makes me laugh. I don't know why, but it does!

Lawhawk, Do they run anyone against Pelosi?

StanH said...

Lawhawk, I’ve read about a thousand of comments and articles. You only get really nasty when Garafalo is mentioned, red to a bull brother, LOL!

StanH said...

Me to Andrew! It’s blows me away this quiet, sweet lady, that I’ve known for almost forty years, and married to for twenty, snarling at the TV, and most especially O’Reily. Funny stuff! But it’s an indicator of where this country is, “pissed!”

AndrewPrice said...

Election Update: The Republicans swept all three statewide spots in Virginia!! Wide margin, must Obama-repudiatin'!

New Jersey is too close to call, though it sounds like the Republican is in the lead.

And Bev is still busy stuffing ballots in NY 23, so we have no report yet.

Joel Farnham said...


Surely you jest!!! Bev would be one of the ones who kidnap the voters who would vote for Owens. She doesn't drop down to Acorn standards. ;-)

Writer X said...

Joel, if LawHawk challenges Pelosi, I'd suspend my writing career and work as his press secretary, gratis. Or I'd stuff ballots, whatever.

Andrew, you're right: Change tactics. But that will also take leadership as well as good communication skills. Not sure if those are the Republicans' strong-suit. That still concerns me.

BTW, Have one eye on the election results; the other on "V." Very interesting show, so far.

Suzie1 said...

Well said.

Joel Farnham said...


It would be GLORIOUS if you would even attempt the IMPOSSIBLE.

99% of the People in the United States would say you were crazy to even attempt it. 98% of the People in the United States would say you couldn't win. It is like a man going against the windmill. Who does that? A CRAZY MAN. But then again history states that the UNITED STATES are impossible. Never to be tried. Stupid even. Who are you to go against history?

But I can dream can't I?

Here is a song.


It is not perfect, but who of us are?

You should take back your party. Can you think of a better way than this?

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Suzie!

Writer X, I agree there seems to be a major communications problem. And that's the kind of constructive criticism that I think is important to maintain. They're speeches have been uninspired and they have been poor at getting their achievements (or position known).

I hope for improvement though now that they've received both a wake up call and a huge shot in the arm from these elections!

AndrewPrice said...

Woo hoo! Fox has just projected the Republican as the winner in New Jersey!!

patti said...

i would love, LOVE, to see the republicans get their collective heads out of their own asses, and get back to the core of beliefs that has served US in the past. from your blog to god's ear.

i want to back leadership...conservative republican leadership. pass it on.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: I have an article for tomorrow about whether the New Jersey election is final or not. If Fox is right, and it's a five point margin, I will happily retract my gloomy prediction, and go with my final sentence in that article.

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, That's the challenge, to keep up the pressure and make sure they become a genuine conservative leadership. I think with the elections tonight, that's going to apply a lot of pressure.

Lawhawk, Can't wait to read it. I think New Jersey is by far the most significant loss for Obama today, though I would say NY (if it goes the right way) would be the biggest win for conservatives.

DCAlleyKat said...

Great article Andrew...um, lot's to think about. For too many years I put my party before conservatism, and time after time found myself holding my nose. After repeated, and I emphasize, repeated communications with my party I finally left and became an Independent.

Now I am a conservative first. I continue to stay in touch with the Republican party, though I am not ready to return to it. No more wait and see for me, I want some proof...at least 80% proof!

AndrewPrice said...

DCAlleyKat, Right now is the best chance in a very long time for conservatives to reshape the party. Not only are conservatives energized, but the "moderates" are demoralized and the leadership is prepared to listen. This is not a combination I've seen since. . . well, ever.

I am hopeful.

DCAlleyKat said...

I am hopeful.

I am also Andrew, and think that is probably why I make it a point to stay in touch. I even participate in phone townhalls with my local R congressman. I do think...finally they are listening! It is good to remain hopeful, and it is great to see people awakened from their apathy.

LawHawkSF said...

StanH, JoelFarnham and Writer X: I am genuinely touched by your heartfelt words of support. But I must respectfully decline. I found out about twenty-five years ago that I'm not destined to be a candidate. After running several successful campaigns for my friends and associates, I made the mistake of running myself. I nearly came in fifth in a field of four. As much as I would love to put on a show against Pelosi, the electoral system in San Francisco is set up to make it nearly impossible for an independent to even get on the ballot without major petition signatures and the support of some national political party. The Republicans have run some decent candidates over the years, but they have lost by margins of 75% to 82%. If you can't even get on the ballot, you lose your forum. So with my deep thanks for your confidence, I'll have to simply continue to be a gadfly.

DCAlleyKat said...

Lawhawk, yes but you're our gadfly honey! Any it doesn't get any better than a Commenarama gadfly!

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Plus there's that whole string of "unexplained" bodies that you wouldn't want the papers to investigate. . . and the incident with the hooker and the goat. ;-)

DCAlleyKat, Only time will tell at this point.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: I told you that in confidence. And it was a goat at the menage a trois? I must be getting old, I had completely forgotten.

DCAlleyKat: I promise to do everything I can. I won't let you down.

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