What Conservatives Can Learn from Liberals

By Clay Olsen | April 15th, 2013

After the 2012 election, there has been, and continues to be, much talk about the state of the Republican Party. Countless ideas are being thrown around about how the party can make a good rebound. Some of these ideas suggest Republicans should continue to move toward the center to get the coveted prize of the “undecided” vote. Others propose that a party revival is needed in which Republicans return to Conservative principles and make their stand there. One thing is agreed upon by all Republican strategists: we cannot afford to strike out next time we are at bat.

Perhaps it is appropriate to look back on past elections in order to gauge what works and what does not. Election 2012 is a good place to start. The results of this election should have been something Democrats feared. An economy going nowhere, huge debt and deficits, and the recent foreign policy foul up in Benghazi are some tough facts to run on. However, the GOP could not deliver. We saw a lower than expected Republican turnout at the voting booth.

Now let’s look at the 2010 Congressional elections. Similar situation: out of control spending, Democrats calling for higher taxes, and the controversial Affordable Care Act (sometimes referred to as Obamacare). We saw huge support for Republican candidates resulting in many seats going in the party’s favor.

So we have two very similar circumstances with two very different results. What was the difference between the 2010 and 2012 election? Conservatism. Although establishment Republicans want to downplay the Tea Party movement, it was this movement that brought the GOP majority in the House. Marches on D.C. before the election fired up the Republican party and showed how popular fiscal Conservatism really is to its constituents. The Tea Party was built on the principles of lower taxes, lower government spending, and the repeal of Obamacare. And that was popular! So why do establishment Republicans run from it?!

The GOP had two years to retain the Conservative excitement. Instead of going with an exciting candidate, the party decided to go with (once again) a moderate. Now I am not saying there was a clear Conservative candidate that was a guarantee win, but we tried out a moderate Republican in the 2008 election and we lost. Romney was supposed to collect the “undecided” vote. That is what elections today seem to be all about: the all-important “undecided” vote. The undecided vote means nothing if you cannot get your own party involved and out to vote on election day.

We are told that political strategy leads politicians to capture the fence-line voters by moderating their stances. In other words, pandering. We are told that we need to soften our principles and move toward the middle. And that is what we have done the past two presidential elections. We put up two weak Republicans to represent us and they expect to retain the same enthusiasm from the conservative Republicans that they got in the 2010 election? If the candidate that is supposed to be representing your principles and ideas goes out and sucks up to “Independents” in order to get votes, does that make you want to get involved in the guy’s campaign?

Pandering shows weakness. Nobody will willingly get behind someone who is not going to protect their principles. There was no pandering in 2010. There was only the unwavering stance on the principle of limited government. So what is to be done about the undecided voter. Do we all get down off our platform to convince them that we are not fanatical? I would suggest that the correct answer is to educate the undecided. Educate every voter. Make sure that every voter, no matter what party they are affiliated with, understands what we stand for. We cannot leave it up to the cable television networks that create a straw man of the Republican party.

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Lesson from Nixon: Heed the Great Silent Majority

By Danny Zeng | November 27th, 2012

Republicans have debated for weeks now after the election – and indeed for the last two election cycles – as to the direction of the Party. The internal strife between the so-called conservative ideologues (often people with distorted understanding of conservatism) and the moderates (or disparagingly known as RINOs, Republicans in Name Only) is threatening the thin coalition that the Party currently holds in the electorate. Social conservatives almost succeeded in nominating Rick Santorum during the nomination process (In fact, The Weekly Standard reports yesterday that Santorum has his eyes on 2016). A large swath of the Party loyalists and frankly the media have discredited and dismissed the libertarian-based Ron Paul movement in this election. The collective exasperation on the day after the election for some vocal conservatives: well, we should have elected a more conservative candidate.

However, if history were of any guide, I would urge the Party to reconsider its race-to-the-bottom inclination to out-of-touch extremism. The better strategy is to do what Nixon so ingeniously did in 1969, in invoking the “great silent majority.” In present terms, this would include those hard-working middle-class, working-class Americans who prefer to watch football on weekends with cold beer or venture into the outdoors, those who attend dinner parties during weekdays to catch up with friends on the latest gossip, those college graduates who can no longer find jobs that match their skills, and those young parents who help their children with homework and take them to sports and music practices after school  You get the drift. In short, those average Americans who do not have grand theories about politics or ideology but indeed who are simply trying to work, raise a family, attend community functions  and socialize with friends in dwindling leisure hours. Most Americans are not political ideologues; they have a life in the private sphere. As conservatives, we should respect that. Out of all people, we should be most inclined to understand that people would rather be more active in their private and local communities than the behemoth that is the federal government. Recognizing this fact means that conservatives, too, need to detach ourselves from political hubris and not so readily claim the mantle of speaking for all Americans in the public sphere.

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