When I was in college, I studied Southern Long Fist Kung Fu for more than a year and my teacher told me something that I never forgot. He said that when you’re being attacked, the aggressor sets the rules and if you want to survive, you have to play by those rules. In other words, if your opponent is trying to cut your head off with a sword while you’re trying not to hurt him, chances are that you’re going to end up dead. This is a lesson that conservatives can and should apply to politics.
Too often today, liberals are using below-the-belt tactics against conservatives and paying no price whatsoever. Meanwhile, those on the right like to pat themselves on the back for being above it all. This is like a boxer priding himself on never taking off his gloves while his opponent nearly beats him to death with his bare firsts. But in the end, there’s not much to be said for lovable losers. Conservatives should realize that fair play isn’t going to pay any dividends.
While we conservatives don’t have to stoop quite as low as the left has, we do need to start giving them a taste of their own medicine, if only to make them think twice about the way they’re treating our side.
For example, look at the media jihad that was shamelessly launched against Sarah Palin’s family. There was a not-so-subtle message being sent: if you’re a Republican woman, you better stay in the shadows or we’re going to destroy your family to get you. The left gave the same kind of intrusive, public scrutiny to “Joe the Plumber,” a private citizen who merely asked an inconvenient question to Barack Obama. While conservatives defended both Sarah and Joe as we complained incessantly about the way they were treated, the reality is that the Democrats paid no price whatsoever for the out-of-bounds attacks.
Instead of continuing to complain, here’s a better idea. Why don’t conservatives do opposition research on the journalists endlessly running stories about Bristol Palin and Joe the Plumber? Have they ever been arrested? Whom do they own property with? Have they ever been paid to do a speech for someone and then run a favorable news story about him? Certainly Keith Olbermann’s personal life is just as newsworthy as Joe the Plumber’s, and the details of Maureen Dowd’s life are just as noteworthy as those of Bristol Palin — are they not?
Here’s another example. On college campuses, conservative speakers often need bodyguards to give a speech. Conservatives are shouted down and attacked — and nothing serious ever seems to happen to the fascists who engage in these thuggish tactics. So why shouldn’t conservative groups do the exact same thing to every liberal speaker who comes to the college? Go on stage, lock arms, and shout him down — then sue the university if they’re given so much as an hour’s detention more than the protesting liberal students.
Along those same lines, how is it that we have public universities using taxpayer dollars to discriminate against conservatives, indoctrinate kids into liberalism, and hire faculty like Bill Ayers? Why are Republican state legislators allowing this? How about standing up and saying, “If you want to continue to receive taxpayer money, you’re going to act like a university should, not an indoctrination center”?
If you are tired of being called a racist by race-hustling poverty pimps like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and the NAACP, how about using their own tactics against them by boycotting organizations that work with them or support them financially?
Are you sick of feeling like you need to familiarize yourself with porn terms just to understand what they’re saying about the tea parties on MSNBC or CNN? Then start filing obscenity complaints with the FCC. The left has never hesitated to use the government and the court system against its political opponents, so why should we?
Obviously, we don’t have to become liars — in fact, even setting aside the ethics of it, it’s better for our credibility if we don’t. But conservatives do need to stop playing by Marquess of Queensberry rules and futilely hoping that the public will finally start to notice that we’re actually nice guys, even as we are smeared as Nazis, homophobes, and racists every day.
How much credit did John McCain get for refusing to talk about Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama’s lack of patriotism? How many times was George Bush — a moderate on domestic issues who bent over backwards to create a “new tone” — accused of being Hitler? How many times has Fox News, which makes more of an effort to be balanced than any of the other networks and all the biggest newspapers in America, been accused of being as biased as Rush Limbaugh?
Complaining bitterly about the Democrats’ “politics of personal destruction” or bellyaching that the media doesn’t treat us fairly ultimately accomplishes nothing. The public doesn’t care.
Using the exact same tactics against the left that it uses against the right may very well be effective.
Even if it isn’t, it may at least convince them that such tactics ought to be off limits on both sides. We can say, “Gee, what if Bush had done this” or “That’s a cheap shot” all day long, but until our political opponents feel the brunt of the same savage incivility that it dishes out on a regular basis, nothing is going to change.