Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
The corollary to that statement here in the United States could be, “All that was necessary for the Democrats to triumph was for conservatives to do nothing.”
It’s fashionable to blame George W. Bush, the Republicans in Congress, and the out of touch, inside-the-beltway pundits for the ascendancy of Barack Obama and the left — and they certainly deserve the largest portion of the blame.
However, it’s worth taking the time to ask: what responsibility does the conservative movement — you, me, and all our conservative friends — have for this disaster?
Quite a bit actually.
We were too slow to challenge Republicans in D.C., including George Bush, when they veered from a conservative course. Yes, we complained, but not loudly enough and too late in the game.
We were also too complacent and too willing to stand pat on an out of date agenda. Consider the irony, for example, of conservatives using an income tax cut as a primary selling point for our domestic agenda when more than a third of the American public doesn’t pay income tax.
Along the same lines, we’ve been too content to advocate policies like the Fair Tax that couldn’t be gotten through Congress, or to merely poke holes in the Democratic agenda on issues like socialized medicine without truly pushing viable alternatives.
That’s not to say that there are no alternatives; giving a tax break to individuals instead of companies would cover far more people, would reduce health care costs, and would allow people to keep their health care when they lose their jobs. But most conservatives have little interest in pushing these sort of ideas.
However, the greatest flaw conservatives have is that when we get frustrated with the performance of the Republican Party, we have a tendency to pick up our ball and go home. “Well, if they do that, then I’m not giving any money, I’m not helping any campaigns this year, and I’m not voting.”
Do you know why Western societies, including ours, seem to always go leftward, despite the fact that liberal policies don’t work?
Do you know why the culture seems to descend further into the sewer, no matter who’s in charge? Do you know why government always seems to grow, no matter who’s running the show, Republican or Democrat?
It’s because the liberals don’t take their ball and go home.
Oh, they pout, they complain, and we laugh at how ineffective they are when they go out in the streets with their silly giant puppet heads and their “Free Mumia” signs. But, they are dedicated to changing this country in a way that the average conservative isn’t.
There are liberals who go to college, get a journalism degree, and work their way up through the ranks for years — somewhere like the New York Times — all so that they can be in a position to effect change (in their case, slant stories in order to help causes and candidates they care about). Meanwhile, a conservative won’t even cancel his subscription to the paper even when it becomes apparent that it’s nothing more than an unofficial arm of the Democratic Party.
Or a liberal will go to college and become a teacher primarily so that he can effect change — and be in a position to feed their point of view to young minds, who will then vote for his side down the road. A conservative usually won’t even bother to pick up the phone and complain when his five-year-old is told to read Heather Has Two Mommies.
What it all comes down to is that in the end, 10 men with passion will accomplish far more than 500 men who believe, but do so without zeal. In a nutshell, that’s the real problem of the conservative movement.
People keep asking, “When’s the next Reagan going to come along?”
Here’s the thing: Reagan was a great man, but he would have been nothing if he hadn’t been carried on the shoulders of a vibrant conservative movement. If “another Reagan” came along today, he would fail because most conservatives are too busy pouting, throwing rocks at each other, kowtowing to the Democrats, and investing their time in forever hapless third parties to give a real conservative leader the support he — or she — would need to win.
The current reality is most conservatives won’t contribute their time or money to candidates and organizations that they like. Most bloggers and talk radio hosts, if given a choice between having their favorite candidate lose or asking their audience to give them money, would prefer to see them lose. Many people complain about the Republican Party — but, how many people are willing to join up locally and try to change the organization from inside? Not many. People would rather sit and complain than get involved and actually make a difference.
Well, all I can say to the pouting right is that if you think something needs to be done to change the Republican Party and the country, don’t wait for a leader to come along; get out and be a leader. Do something. And if you can’t do something, then at least support the conservatives who are out there trying to do something. It’s like Ted Nugent said:
I stand up and I take the bullets because my name is Davy Crockett. This is the wall of the Alamo. If you can’t shoot Santa Anna’s men, shut up and load my gun.
Whether it’s Ted Nugent, Slatecard, NumbersUSA, Club for Growth, Team America PAC, or your favorite politician, blogger, or talk radio host, load their guns by clicking on their ads, calling your elected officials when they ask you to, or giving them the money they need to fight for your interests.
In case the 2008 election didn’t send the message — doing nothing is not enough.