By: R.J. Moeller
Election season is upon us once again and with it comes the renewed interest of millions of Americans who, for the intermediate time between ballot-casts, tune out Washington and tune in to whatever distractions in the world of entertainment happen to strike their fancy. Some have unsuccessfully attempted to keep up with the Kardashians, while others have (vicariously) danced with stars. We have Idols, Survivors, and Gossip Girls who are all, understandably, more interesting than anything to do with Minority Whips, Inspector Generals, and some guy named Filibuster in The Beltway.
And yet something feels different this time around. There is an unmistakable air of urgency and interest in regards to “politics” emanating from the previously-pacified masses. Friends, family members and acquaintances who I’ve never known to be “political” have in the last year become near-experts on the finer points of constitutional law, the intricacies of health care legislation, and my main man Dick Morris’ battle-plan to “take back America in 2010.”
When I’m receiving Heritage Foundation or Cato Institute policy research papers on supply-side economics in my email inbox from old college buddies who used to send me YouTube videos of burping toddlers and ferrets chasing a ball of yarn around a barn, I know something has changed in the culture. (Or at least in my cultural phylum.)
Maybe its temporary, like the waning patience eligible bachelorettes I take to dinner show for my mouth’s inability to stop talking about Milton Friedman and my forehead's inability to stop sweating profusely (regardless of room temperature), but I’d like to think that the sudden surge in social, cultural, and political engagement is a signal of a long-term trend.
The media would have us believe that the rise in support for conservative, libertarian, and constitutional principles is directly proportionate to the amount of bigotry, homophobia, xenophobia, and arachnophobia (I do hate spiders) coursing through the wind-swept veins of Red-state, “middle” America. Whether pundits and politicians on the Left who espouse this grotesque “things like the Tea Party movement happen because anger and racism rule the hearts of Center-Right Americans” theory actually believe it, or simply regurgitate it out of reactionary disdain for their political opponents, is between them and their Maker.
I don’t know their hearts, but they certainly have no qualm with purporting to intimately know mine (and those of millions of Americans).
The truth is that the charges of racism levied against modern conservatism don’t hold up under the weight of experience, evidence or common sense.
The common themes one has heard at town hall meetings, Tea Party rallies, dinner-table discussions, Instant Message dialogues and water-cooler conversations include: limiting the rampant growth of government; reducing the astronomical debt and deficit our states and nation has accrued; protecting the border (and sovereignty of the United States); undoing the socialized medicine known as Obamacare; reigning in corruption and pork-barrel spending; and restoring integrity to our “great little experiment” in republican democracy.
Yep. I can just feel the scorching heat radiating off the flames of racism that surge throughout such provocative statements. If you’re flushing-red right now yourself, it’s likely not the result of Indian Summer weather this September. It’s probably because you saw right through these calls for fiscal responsibility, political accountability, and moral competency for the veiled KKK-like ruminations they truly are.
If racism is what gets Center-Right America out of bed in the morning, and not the need to work hard so that their church-going, law-abiding family can have food on the table and calories inside of them to burn at soccer practice, then why do we almost never hear racist sound-bites on television or radio, or read racist quotes in newspapers and magazines, from them? (We hear more about the "racism" than from the "racists" themselves.)
If hatred of people with different colored skin is what is motivating millions of previously a-political voters to get involved in politics for the first time in their lives, wouldn’t such easily-influenced and thoughtless people likely be unable to control revealing their true intentions by blurting out racial epitaphs at every event, rally, and public gathering?
Is all of this excitement about the direction the country is headed in really attributable to the fact that a black man is president, like such erudite thinkers as Jeneanne Garafulo and Bill Maher propose? Someone better go and tell Ken Blackwell in Ohio, Marco Rubio in Florida, and Sarah Palin in the moose-hunting blind that their loyal, motivated supporters hate blacks, Latinos and women before it’s too late!
If there are overt racial slurs being bandied about at events carrying the banner of the conservative-libertarian values I ascribe to, I want to know about it. Enough with the inferences, and let's have some evidence, mainstream media.
Thus far, the evidence the media does have for the supposed racist backbone of the grass-roots, conservative-libertarian groundswell these past 12 months is little more than conjecture, hearsay, sour grapes, and tired, trite liberal talking points they likely learned in Sociology 101 freshmen year at whichever Leftist Seminary (aka “almost every college in America”) they happened to have been indoctrinated in.
What the Left in the media, academia, and congress are missing about the surge in enthusiasm and participation we’ve seen in this country is that it has very little to do political parties, and everything to do with principles, values, and ideas.
I typically vote Republican. I am a conservative.
Republicans were booted out of office in 2006 and 2008 because they weren’t acting like the conservatives they claimed to be. Democrats will be steam-rolled in 2010 and 2012 precisely because they did act, vote, and rule like the progressive liberals the most important and influential among them undeniably are.
People aren’t ecstatic about Republican Party patter trotted out by talking heads; but many of them are emphatically finished with big-government liberalism, and passionately believe in their traditional, conservative, convictions.
This is a war of ideas, not personalities. Liberals and Democrats love when a political fight is about the star-power or sex-appeal of candidates because they have the entire entertainment world at their disposal. If they can’t do a physical make-over on one of their candidates, they just leak it to John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, the ladies at The View and Rolling Stone Magazine that such-and-such a liberal candidate is cerebral, super-smart, and over-qualified compared to the GOP competition.
To an extent, however, the Left has begun to figure out that their go-to tactics aren’t going to work this time. This is why they’ve shifted their strategy from trying to out-cool the opposition to working tirelessly in hopes that they can paint the candidates of choice among the political newcomers I’ve been talking about in this column as radicals, extremists, and all-around nut-jobs.
Admittedly, as in the case of Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, not every candidate Republican primary voters have chosen is an ideal one. But when you analyze why dark-horse, largely unknown candidates like O’Donnell beat out incumbent Republicans, it comes down to principles much more than personalities. The guy who held the seat in Delaware called himself a Republican and then voted for a laundry list of anti-conservative pieces of legislation. The voters in that state, as well as others around the nation, said “Enough is enough” and threw the bum out.
To paraphrase one Donald Rumsfeld: You don’t always go to the ballot box with the perfect candidate you want; you often have to go with the one you got.
It’s going to take a few election cycles to get better and better candidates in the position to run. It’s going to take a repeal of McCain-Feingold to open up financial doors for some of them to be able to run. It’s going to take constant vigilance from the citizenry for the next few terms to hold the people we put into power now accountable to the conservative principles they say they’re going to Washington to put in to effect later.
These, and other similar changes in behavior patterns from the electorate, will eventually lead to better candidates being willing to run and being able to win.
And for the time being, what liberal, progressive Democrats think of someone like Christine O’Donnell or Rand Paul is so utterly irrelevant to me that I’m not sure it can be expressed in mere words. Back in college, my friends and I had a system of blinks that we would use to communicate with one another when, among other things, we were in a boring conversation at a party. Negative commentary from Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, or Keith Olbermann on a Tea Party candidate registers with this blogger as a definite “two blink-er.” (Translation: “I’ve been rendered incapable of caring less about what this person in front of me is saying”)
Don’t get me wrong: the character and track-record of any person seeking to temporarily borrow some of our Creator-endowed rights while in elected office matters. It really does. But too many people, on both sides of the aisle, are missing the ideological forest for the petty, political trees that plague elections every 2, 4, and 6 years.
If you firmly believe that economic freedom is inherently intertwined with religious and political freedom, you know which direction the Obama-Pelosi-Reid-run government is heading and you know that it is the wrong one.
If you are convinced that the Founders were infinitely wise, and not short-sighted, in limiting and de-centralizing the powers of each branch of the federal government, you know that at the current rate of annexation and intrusion we will soon be living in an un-recognizable, European-style state.
If you’re sick of czars, summits (beer, or otherwise), and buck-passing, you know that Christine O’Donnell, Rand Paul, and Carly Fiorina (in California) aren’t who your ire ought to be aimed at.
This is a Center-Right country. We have a decidedly Left-of-Center group running it.
You do the math.
The reason for the success of Tea Party rallies and town hall meetings and conservative media outlets and “fringe” political candidates is difficult to figure out like the success of family-friendly, positive message-filled movies like Chronicles of Narnia and The Incredibles is difficult to figure out.
People are willing to support something that is representative of their beliefs, convictions, and general worldview.
See you at the polls (on November 2nd).