Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

The Conservative Movements and 2008

Posted by Adam Graham on February 11, 2007

In my last column, “The Men Who Would Destroy Conservatism” I explained why Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney posed a great threat to the future of conservatism. Having explained why these men should not be president, I believe it’s incumbent that they not be given the nomination.

Conservatives can stop this process. With the establishment fairly well split between these three men, the challenge is that many conservatives are supporting these candidates.

Of course, we often make the flawed assumption that Conservatism is a monolith, when it’s quite complex movement. There are certain people who self-identify as conservatives who can’t be counted on to back a strongly conservative candidate for various reasons. Then there are groups that are critical to a Fall success.

The Conservative Conservatives

Many people view conservatism as a systematic set of beliefs regarding protecting the family, innocent human life, reforming taxes and social security, etc. Yet, the traditional definition of a Conservative is to preserve existing conditions. As such, these “conservatives” prefer to stick with what we have now. Utterly revamping Social Security, changing the tax code, or providing school vouchers is too disturbing to an order that’s working just fine. They’re the type of people who oppose same sex marriage now, but are cautious in how they advocate against it. Don’t ask for their help if you want to abolish it after it gets passed as they quickly accept the status quo.

The Conservatives of War

There are people who are socially and economically conservative, but with 9-11, their whole focus shifted to the War on Terror. All that matters is winning the war. They assume everyone else has that focus and if they don’t, something is deadly wrong with them. We have to win in 2008, no matter how far left the nominee is. They mock those who will be concerned about other issues, forgetting that the Cold War was not won until a coalition of social, economic, and foreign policy conservatives came together around a candidate that they could all support in good conscience. However, as arguing with them is like arguing with a brick wall, let’s move on.

The Analysts

These people are Conservative to a varying degree, but pride themselves on being realists. They will only back candidates who they think can realistically win the general. These type of pragmatically-obsessed folks are of the same type of people who were dispatched by Liddy Dole’s National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee to save Lincoln Chafee’s (RI.) campaign from defeat at the hands of conservative Mayor Steve Laffey. There is no principle higher than victory.

These people generally suffer from a lack of confidence in the Conservative message and believe that if a Conservative message is presented to the American people, they will overwhelmingly reject it. They believe in political analysts who define who they will and will not support, and who can in the end be successful. Defeat and struggle must be avoided at all costs in order to win. They want to take the path of least resistance that leads to victory.

These people may (like Giuliani Blogger Patrick Ruffini) hope for a position in the next administration and so support someone who is utterly detestable on any number of issues in order to further their own careers.

The Sheep

They back whoever party establishment and politicos tell them to. Baaahhhhhh!

It’s a Coalition

Basically, what we have left is a core of ideologically committed folks. They’re in politics for ideas. They believe in Fighting the War on Terror, but don’t believe that’s the be-all and end-all of conservative issues.

Among that group, you’ve got quite a few sub-groups. There are economic conservatives, who are tired of “big government conservatism,” want taxes reformed, and social security fixed. The religious conservatives are concerned about life, the sanctity of the family, and the protection of religious liberty. Border hawks are tired of our nation’s border laws being violated with impunity and the balkanization of our nation. And of course, unlike the left, nearly everyone understands the importance of fighting the War on Terror.

The challenge of a Conservative presidential candidate is to unite these groups under one banner. Failure to do so will mean defeat for Conservatism in the 2008 primary and dire consequences afterwards.

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One Response to “The Conservative Movements and 2008”

  1. Call me an “analyst” if you want. I’ll call you “silly”. If you can’t throw your support behind a frontrunner like Mitt Romney who is 99% conservative, and instead you cast a vote for your neighbor who is 100% conservative but has no chance in hell of winning even one state, you are silly. Regardless of what you may have been taught, there is such a thing as a wasted vote due to the fact that we select a president using the US electoral college system.

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