Two prominent conservative radio hosts describe the crossroads the movement currently finds itself. Of the verdict in the Scooter Libby trial, Rush Limbaugh tells his listeners:
The libs here are poking the hibernating bear and they’re going to wake the bear. You’re mad. Everybody that’s called me today is fit to be tied over this. This can do more to revive a hibernating conservative movement than anybody else could, plus the liberals and the Democrats own defeat with the US military and so forth. So don’t cash in the chips. It’s way too soon to do that. That’s not even an option. I don’t want to hear about it.
But the recent Coulter kerfuffle should also be a wake-up call, as Michael Medved notes:
In the run-up to the fateful election of 2008, conservatives face a clear-cut choice: we can rebuild our movement as a broad-ranging, mainstream coalition and restore our governing majority, or else settle for a semi-permanent role as angry, doom-speaking complainers on the fringes of American politics and culture.
We can either invite doubters and moderates to join with us in new efforts to affirm American values, or we can push them away because they fail to measure up to our own standards of indignation and ideological purity.
In short, we must choose between addition and subtraction: either building our cause by adding to our numbers or destroying it by discouraging all but the fiercest ideologues.
No political party or faction has ever thrived based on purges and insults and internal warfare, but too many activists on the right seem determined to reduce the conservative cause to self-righteous irrelevance.
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Republicans need to return to the open, expansive conservatism of Ronald Reagan: more concerned with bringing in newcomers than driving out dissenters, more committed to winning elections than to scoring points in arguments, more determined to steer the government in the right direction than to sit at the sidelines carping about inevitable decline. We should make skeptics feel welcome as Republicans and urge them to fight the issues inside the party where they can have the most impact.
Every major event, every potential speaker, every resolution, every specific approach, deserves evaluation in terms of effectiveness in party building