Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hard A Starboard

John at Powerline chides conservatives for insufficient loyalty to the Republican Party. I think he has a point: Republican Pride

Of course the Republicans aren't perfect. Of course they spent too much money when they controlled Congress. But the history of the Republican Party is, on the whole, a proud one--far more so than that of the Democratic Party. This is a theme to which I intend to recur in the months to come.

In the meantime, let's leave it with this: we were often critical of President George W. Bush. When he left office, I gave him a B- grade overall. But President Bush would have vetoed Pelosicare. This is the stark difference between our political parties: the Democrats are hell-bent on dismantling free enterprise and advancing government power over every aspect of our lives; the Republicans are not. Conservatives cannot afford to be neutral or indifferent as between the parties, nor can they afford the narcissism of third-party vanity campaigns. Conservatives must work every day to strengthen the Republican Party--it's the only hope we have. And, yes, strengthening the party will sometimes mean drawing the line at a Dede Scozzafava. But purity is not our object here; victory is.

A problem for voters and for Republicans is that a lazy sort of liberalism is the default setting in the media, in the schools, in the universities, in bookstores, and virtually any other place where the battle of ideas is waged. Republicans don't just have trouble getting their message out; voters rarely have ready access to information that the GOP can represent a choice, and not an echo. You literally have to make an affirmative effort to learn about conservative ideas, the philosophy of the GOP, etc. For many people, hearing Rush Limbaugh for the first time is often a shock, a shock because it's hard to hear such a passionate proponent of conservative views in more conventional forums.

In my case, a big turning point came when I read P.J. O'Rourke's books back in my college days. I think he was the first person outside of my family whom I had ever heard criticize FDR (as I recall, the line from Parliament of Whores was "President Roosevelt: the one in the wheelchair, and not the good one who shot bears"). PJ's a very funny guy, and much more thoughtful than most liberal intellectuals, but - come on! - when your side (ca. early 1990's) has to rely on a humorist to put across its ideas to the mainstream, it gives you an idea of what we're up against. Things have changed for the better: certainly we're much better off with Fox News, talk radio, and the conservative blogosphere, none of which existed in their present form when I made my journey right-ward; but we shouldn't kid ourselves. Conservatives and the GOP still have a long way to go, both in communicating with one another and with the voters.

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