I’ve taken some heat for posts I’ve written on Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava versus conservative Doug Hoffman in NY-23. My posts have been misinterpreted as supportive of Scozzafava, which they truly were not. Blame that on me, as the posts weren’t clear enough about the thought process going on behind the scenes. But that’s less important than the issue at hand. My conservative credentials are intact. But how conservatives win the current civil war within the GOP is important to me. We must build the party up and become strong, not simply tear things down because we disagree with them.
Scozzafava does not appear to be anyone for whom I would ever vote or actively support. Still, how the internal GOP battle plays out, including in NY-23, is very important to me. Call me an old Reagan man. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to defeat Scozzafava. But how we do it matters very much.
The GOP is not and has never been the conservative movement. The current battle should not be about decimation; it should be about control. Reagan, in his too often unheralded and underappreciated wisdom, knew that the key to victory was not in trying to leave or otherwise destroy the GOP, but in coming to dominate it democratically and with a reasonable hand. The Gipper’s wisdom may have been best evidenced in his promoting the “Eleventh Commandment” from the earliest days of his political campaigning:
The personal attacks against me during the primary finally became so heavy that the state Republican chairman, Gaylord Parkinson, postulated what he called the Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican. It’s a rule I followed during that campaign and have ever since.
Times may have changed, but smart tactics have not. Conservatives can, should, and will be elected for what they stand for and believe in. So long as they are elected for what they are not, the critical importance of conservative thought to continuing America’s wonderful existence will never become appreciated by the electorate at large. We must begin to trust and articulate our policies, beliefs, and ideas, more than we seek to diminish the other guy’s.
It needn’t be going soft. It’s simply good sales technique and is as simple as that.
When I listen to radio host Mark Levin talk about his old Reagan days, he doesn’t talk about the evils of liberalism or the tyranny of the state. Mostly he talks about going to work for Reagan, getting off his butt, and going out the door to do the time-consuming and often hard work of genuinely effective political campaigning. He talks about getting involved.
If grassroots conservatives have dropped the ball in some way, especially in the Northeast, it is that we haven’t done the hard work to take back the Republican Party from the ground up. To truly prevail we must do that.
It disappointed me to hear the Club for Growth’s Andy Roth blame RNC Chairman Michael Steele and the D.C. Republicans for giving us a Dede Scozzafava. He knows better than that, and he shouldn’t play that game simply to get his message across. Scozzafava got the nod based upon a state and local decision. It’s important for conservatives to understand how that came about.
It is not the D.C. GOP’s job to stab a state or local organization in the back, no matter what you may think. Money and support flow up and flow back down. A national political organization capable of winning elections can not afford to function any other way. Let’s stop playing games.
Why is the state GOP chairman, at least potentially, an old Nader guy at heart? Why did the local county chairmen think that Scozzafava would be a better candidate than Doug Hoffman might be? Obviously, New York conservatives simply didn’t show up when it mattered most, and over a long period of time at that. If they had, the state chairman would be a rock-solid conservative. The same is true for the county chairmen.
And until conservatives around the country begin showing up when the media lights aren’t glaring or the final battle over a candidate is already underway, we’re going to continue to see a lot more candidates like Dede Scozzafava.
Show up and do the work if you really want to make a difference. Otherwise, you might just as well shut up for all the good effect you’ll have influencing the political future of this great land. Perhaps it’s time for more conservatives to start paying back in that sense, instead of whining and yelling about why the GOP is not paying off. What, besides maybe a small donation and a lot of criticism, have you given the GOP lately? Get involved. In politics, that and nothing else is the critical difference between victory and defeat.