A return to practical conservatism

posted at 12:01 pm on March 5, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Politico leads off today with a whither-the-GOP analysis that looks at some interesting trends within the party and the conservative movement.  Like most of these pieces, Maggie Haberman’s article provides a good overview of the various “where do we go from here” efforts, but tends to cast them in competition with each other when that’s not necessarily so:

Four months after taking an electoral pounding, Republicans can’t agree on what went wrong in 2012 — let alone on a path to recovery.

Each week brings a new diagnosis of the party’s woes. Karl Rove says it’s candidate quality. Mitt Romney chief strategist Stuart Stevens argues Democrats have won over minority voters through government programs like Obamacare. Some Bush White House vets say it’s the GOP’s trouble understanding how to approach a changing electorate. Techy conservatives blame the party’s inferior social media presence and outdated voter targeting and data-mining.

With fault to go around for allowing a president mired in a weak economy to handily win reelection, the finger-pointing and blame-shifting from various corners are showing no sign of abating.

It’s worth pointing out that none of the issues raised in the second paragraph are exclusive of one another.  That’s where the “Republicans can’t agree on what went wrong” meme tends to go off the rails a bit.  Many of us think that all of the above issues have to be addressed, organizationally and in policy, for the Republican Party and/or conservative movement to regain its competitive ability.

There may be debates about the priority of each and the resources they should use, but that doesn’t mean that one excludes the other.  Major parties and political movements have the virtue of numbers, which means that reforms can take place in massively parallel environments.  People who have an interest in data mining will work in those areas, while others work on outreach and policy.

As far as the supposed conflicts showing “no sign of abating,” well, it’s only been five months since the election, and we have at least a year to go before primaries begin in the next.  These periods are supposed to produce robust debate on direction and policy for parties and movements, especially those who didn’t do well in the last election.  There is no particular need to reach a decision by Thursday of next week when CPAC starts, for instance, and we will have plenty of other events during the year as well where these debates will unfold and partnerships form to address deficiencies within the movement.

In that spirit, my latest column at The Week is actually a continuation of an ad hoc symposium that Matt Lewis and I have conducted over the last couple of weeks about the policy direction of the conservative movement and the GOP.  Matt wrote a column yesterday in which he called for a new embrace of “compassionate conservatism” as a way to expand the reach of both the party and the movement.  Instead, I suggest adopting “practical conservatism”:

Now that Republicans have power and responsibility to set an agenda, at least in the House, they find themselves stuck between their philosophical rock and their policy hard place. Instead of reaching back to the past and “compassionate conservatism,” though, Republicans need to start considering an advent of practical conservatism.

In practical terms, the entitlement programs we have cannot be dismantled, as Randian purists would prefer. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are too popular for repeal, and more importantly, deliver a level of living standards on which millions of Americans rely — standards that would plummet in these programs’ absence. Instead of denying that, practical conservatism would embrace that — because on the trajectory of current policy, these programs will utterly collapse at some point. There is, after all, nothing compassionate about a default, or about sticking succeeding generations with the bill for benefits we enjoy in the present.

Conservatives have good ideas for reforming these programs, and practical conservatives can point to the massive pain that failure will cause future generations. The same is true of programs such as food stamps and other programs that lift the truly needy, but which need to be better targeted so that those who can lift themselves will have to do so.

If nothing else, the past few months should have made it clear that in practical terms, talking about “the 47 percent” and “makers versus takers” won’t win elections for Republicans. It’s in our nature to care about the poor and struggling among us, and that impulse speaks well of Americans. Practical conservatism would also embrace this impulse and form policy around the goals of a robust but practical safety net that doesn’t require massive borrowing, ensuring that limited resources only go to those truly in need while building a fair and free economy that creates true prosperity across all income classes. Practical conservatives would take a lesson from the mid-1990s welfare reform and Jack Kemp’s outreach to urban centers with conservative economic proposals aimed specifically at improving lives of the working class voters that Republicans have consistently lost over the last several decades.

When I say “practical conservatism,” I mean a conservatism that recognizes the political reality of today and works within it to effect the best change possible.  I also mean putting conservative principles into practice in ways that make the lives of Americans better.  Too often we embrace philosophies without providing answers in concrete policy terms, a trend that spending two years completely out of power exacerbated.  Without practical answers on how conservatism will make life better, why would anyone buy into it at all?

The greatest virtue of conservatism — especially economic conservatism — is that it accounted for the reality of human nature and designed systems that worked complementary to it that respect individual genius, rather than in opposition while assuming a Utopian vision delivered by elites to the ignorant masses.  We need to embrace that approach again, stop talking philosophy, and start providing solutions.

Update: Peter Wehner adds his thoughts on orienting policy to solutions, and to the role of faith in it:

I understand that politics involves a balancing act and prioritization. There are obviously many issues that cry out for attention. Still, it seems to me that any political philosophy or party that doesn’t take into account the care and concerns of the weak and marginal is morally desiccated and hardly worthy of one’s allegiance. At the risk of sounding simplistic, what matters to God ought to matter to us, not for reasons having to do with arbitrary and outdated doctrines but with our basic design. The child in inner city Detroit and sub-Saharan Africa have worth because God has bestowed worth on them, as on us; because they and we are created in His image and likeness.

Now precisely how solidarity with the poor works itself out in public policy is a complicated matter involving prudential judgments. But that a society should care about the poor really is not.

Be sure to read it all. And I agree with several commenters that Ronald Reagan provides a good model on how to present such policies.


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SWalker on March 5, 2013 at 1:08 PM

Exceptionally well said.

Yes, indeed.

hawkeye54 on March 5, 2013 at 1:58 PM

Appeasement isn’t practical.

Bold colors……..not pale pastels is what the gop needed.

PappyD61 on March 5, 2013 at 1:59 PM

We need to come together once again as a whole, as The Stool, with 3 strong legs under it, and promote our message, it needs to be clear and concise.

Reagan did it back then and so can we!

We need to put our minor differences aside and unite as a whole.

As was shown prior to the vote for 0bamacare, we can come together, the shame of it was politicians did not heed us, so now we need to be the deliverers of our message by every means possible.

Lay it out there in it’s entirety…

Scrumpy on March 5, 2013 at 1:45 PM

We cannot do this, because unlike the Marxist Progressives, conservatives refuse to learn from history. The Marxist Progressives learned their history exceptionally well, in that they learned, what you cannot defeat from the outside, must be defeated from within. Ronald Reagan did successfully build a coalition, and that coalition allowed him to crush the Marxist Progressive agenda.

The Progressive Marxist’s are fully aware of this and they have successfully infiltrated the Conservative movement at the “Leadership” level, and their strategy is amazingly simply, make damned sure that the three Conservative camps are constantly at each others throats. In other words, a simple straight forward divide and conquer strategy.

The strictly Fiscal Conservatives HATE the Social Conservatives, and they do so because they have been brainwashed and indoctrinated by the Marxist Progressives to believe that all Social Conservatives are Dominionist Christians whose only political goal is to legislate their Religious morality.

If you can’t see the Marxist influence in that mentality, well, then you have obviously been indoctrinated sufficiently into Progressive Marxism that you believe that the State should be a amoral atheist entity and that personal religious morals of elected officials MUST remain exclusively within the functional habitat of the Church.

SWalker on March 5, 2013 at 2:04 PM

I know this will be taken wrong, but I don’t want PRACTICAL CONSERVATISM…I’d like some IDEOLOGIAL Conservatism….McCain, Romney, Bush ’43 gave us “Practical conservatism.” Conservatism for the next 30 seconds, or making a bad deal better or administering the welfare state more efficiently…

How about we try running a Conservative, in 2016, and then following thru, you know like Obama?

JFKY on March 5, 2013 at 12:12 PM

.
It’s POLITICS … so “practical/impractical” is in the eye of the individual beholder.

As far as wanting an “IDEOLOGICAL” Conservative, I’m with you, 100%.

listens2glenn on March 5, 2013 at 2:07 PM

I warned a couple of weeks ago that Colorado is lost.

It’s the new California.

http://www.denverpost.com/recommended/ci_22716905

A bill to make manufacturers and sellers of assault-style weapons in Colorado liable for crimes committed with their guns passed a state Senate committee Monday night.

Under Senate Bill 196, sponsored by Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, manufacturers and sellers of semiautomatic rifles could be sued for violent acts committed with the guns if they “negligently entrusted” an assault-style weapon to someone whom they “reasonably should have known might use the weapon” to cause harm.

Manufacturers and sellers would have to “use the highest degree of care” in selling, storing or transferring weapons. Morse has said juries would have to decide what that standard means.

Assault-style weapons “are designed to quickly and efficiently kill large numbers of human beings,” Morse said.

“No one needs to have one,” he said.

PappyD61 on March 5, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Capitalist Hog on March 5, 2013 at 1:55 PM

It is more likely that you are bigoted.

kingsjester on March 5, 2013 at 2:09 PM

SWalker on March 5, 2013 at 2:04 PM

Well stated. We have Democrat and Democrat-Lite.

kingsjester on March 5, 2013 at 2:10 PM

As Conservatives wouldn’t it be “practical” for us to recognize that the political winds are blowing in favor of gun bans now and confiscation after the next Columbine or Newtown?

The political reality in Colorado is the state is going to be the next Chicago, as far as out of control gun violence goes.

Should we embrace that it’s not practical to fight this?

PappyD61 on March 5, 2013 at 2:11 PM

What a leftist swine, with profound apologies to the clean pigs.

Schadenfreude on March 5, 2013 at 2:11 PM

The strictly Fiscal Conservatives HATE the Social Conservatives, and they do so because they have been brainwashed and indoctrinated by the Marxist Progressives to believe that all Social Conservatives are Dominionist Christians whose only political goal is to legislate their Religious morality.

If you can’t see the Marxist influence in that mentality, well, then you have obviously been indoctrinated sufficiently into Progressive Marxism that you believe that the State should be a amoral atheist entity and that personal religious morals of elected officials MUST remain exclusively within the functional habitat of the Church.

SWalker on March 5, 2013 at 2:04 PM

I don’t HATE the social conservatives, I just wish they’d leave their big government ideas at home and if they want to preach and evangalize to their friends and family or on TV or whatever that’s fine, but I don’t want to see that turn in to enforcing their beliefs on the rest of us with the power of the federal government.

In other words, I have about as much in common Bush and the “compassionate conservatives” (many of who were social cons and many of who were neo cons) as I do with the democrat progressives.

Timin203 on March 5, 2013 at 2:12 PM

In practical terms, the entitlement programs we have cannot be dismantled, as Randian purists would prefer. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are too popular for repeal, and more importantly, deliver a level of living standards on which millions of Americans rely — standards that would plummet in these programs’ absence.

The money isn’t there to keep the programs, reformed or not. The best that can be done is a managed winddown, and the time for that is rapidly running out.

Steve Eggleston on March 5, 2013 at 2:12 PM

The strictly Fiscal Conservatives HATE the Social Conservatives, and they do so because they have been brainwashed and indoctrinated by the Marxist Progressives to believe that all Social Conservatives are Dominionist Christians whose only political goal is to legislate their Religious morality.

If you can’t see the Marxist influence in that mentality, well, then you have obviously been indoctrinated sufficiently into Progressive Marxism that you believe that the State should be a amoral atheist entity and that personal religious morals of elected officials MUST remain exclusively within the functional habitat of the Church.

SWalker on March 5, 2013 at 2:04 PM

Don’t forget the pressure to go anti-military too coming from the libertarians and the left working together.

Doomberg on March 5, 2013 at 2:13 PM

Timin203 on March 5, 2013 at 2:12 PM

Reagan was a social Conservative and a Christian. Did he enforce his beliefs on you, or were you around then?

kingsjester on March 5, 2013 at 2:13 PM

Should we embrace that it’s not practical to fight this?

PappyD61 on March 5, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Yeah, no kidding. Ed needs to realize that his opinions are in the ultra minority in this country — he’d lose all of the dem vote and probably 25% of the republican vote with his ideas… Fortunately, we’ve tested his theories out by running Bush, McCain and Romney, so we have some real world results to look at.

Timin203 on March 5, 2013 at 2:14 PM

I tend to agree with the, “practical,” conservative stance when it comes to entitlements. I tend to be pretty libertarian on many issues, so I’d love nothing more to do away with entitlements entirely. That isn’t going to happen though.

Too many people directly or indirectly rely on entitlements, in a representative democracy, you simply cannot do away with something that a large fraction of voters rely upon. This is why gun control is typically a losing proposition, too many people rely on guns.

Therefore, if the goal is to someday do away with these programs, they must first be shrunk down in size first. The smaller they are, the less resistance there will be to further changes, which makes shrinking them further and further easier each and every time its done.

That does not mean ideals are not important, but ideals must always be tempered by practicality.

WolvenOne on March 5, 2013 at 2:15 PM

I blame to coordinated effort between the DNC, MEdia, and K12/Collegiate establishment to target low information voters and work to keep them low-info.

Jackalope on March 5, 2013 at 2:17 PM

SWalker on March 5, 2013 at 2:04 PM

I don’t HATE the social conservatives, I just wish they’d leave their big government ideas at home and if they want to preach and evangalize to their friends and family or on TV or whatever that’s fine, but I don’t want to see that turn in to enforcing their beliefs on the rest of us with the power of the federal government.

Timin203 on March 5, 2013 at 2:12 PM

You JUST proved SWalker’s argument. People keep saying Christians are going to legislate some “evil moral agenda” on the rest of us, but where is this agenda, exactly? What exactly have social conservatives gotten from the government in the last two decades? I am not a social conservative, and I think the conspiracy theories about them imposing an Iranian-style theocracy are ridiculously paranoid. In fact, their position politically has never been weaker.

Meanwhile, the federal government (read Marxist socialists) legislates its own style and ideals of morality without a whimper of protest from the people who are quick to panic about social conservatives.

Doomberg on March 5, 2013 at 2:18 PM

That’s a double-edged sword. Neither will you.

SukieTawdry on March 5, 2013 at 1:38 PM

It really isn’t because the moderates govern like Democrats anyway.

sharrukin on March 5, 2013 at 2:18 PM

Haven’t posted here since November, ugh. But I’ve seen a lot of pieces about the future of the GOP and conservatism.

The best analysis of the situation pertains to the 3-axis model of politics. Conservatives care about civilization vs. barbarism. Libertarians care about Freedom vs Coersion. And liberals care about Oppressed vs Oppressors.

The American voter is now firmly concerned with the Oppression axis. Especially immigrants and all minority groups that will make up a larger percentage of the vote with every subsequent election.
All racial minority groups in the US (even “conservative” Asians) vote exceedingly for Democrats. This is because minorities care about Oppression and Republicans aren’t seen to “care” about “oppression”.

It’s not really about “policy” or “outreach”, it’s about outlook.

To win elections, either the American voter is going to have to change their mind about “oppression” (unlikely) or Republicans are going to have to accept the construct as valid (also unlikely). My guess is that the GOP won’t win a decisive victory till the end of the Republic.

Conservatives just can’t win an election with the populace that we have. People might be “conservative” in their life and world-view but they still vote for who “feels their pain” more, and that’s not going to be the GOP candidate, no matter how helpful the conservative policy proposals would be to alleviate that “pain”.

happytobehere on March 5, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Mitt Romney chief strategist Stuart Stevens argues Democrats have won over minority voters through government programs like Obamacare.

Uhh, the left won over minorities with various entitlement programs long ago. So claiming that was the reason for 2012 is insane.

. Karl Rove says it’s candidate quality.

Candidate quality matters a lot. But almost as important is organization. We had bad candidates and no organization in 2012.

Some Bush White House vets say it’s the GOP’s trouble understanding how to approach a changing electorate

this is code for become more liberal on immigration. It is based on the falsehood that pandering on amnesty will cause Hispanics to vote for the GOP. It won’t. Hispanics as a group are overwhelmingly economically liberal. Nothing in the history of Hispanic voting in this country (let alone in South America) supports Hispanics moving to the GOP if we pass amnesty.

Techy conservatives blame the party’s inferior social media presence and outdated voter targeting and data-mining.

While this stuff is important, the actual GOTV efforts – which require actual people dragging others to the polls, was far more important in 2012 and the GOP was way behind on that. Because the country is pretty evenly split, the physical GOTV will likely be as important in the next several election cycles as well.

As always, the establishment is going to take away the wrong lessons – mostly the lessons the media want them to believe – i.e., become more liberal.

Monkeytoe on March 5, 2013 at 2:23 PM

a fanatical minority of socons have dragged the entire Republican Party down shoving Bible scriptures down everybody’s throat and desperately pining for the never-will-happen action of putting the government in charge of pregnancy….

It was the liberals who made abortion a big deal in the last elections and they are the one celebrating killing of babies without any shame… Maybe you should go to an abortion clinic and cheer every woman who gets to kill her baby there… Also you should make a statue of the abortionist doctor and give him all praise and glory….

In regards to the fanatical minority, they are not neither fanatics nor they are a minority… There are at least 40 million Republican voters who are socially conservative and there is no f***ing way you can make up for this number if you want to kick them out of the party… In other word you are an idiot who cannot even do simple arithmetic…

mnjg on March 5, 2013 at 2:26 PM

Schadenfreude on March 5, 2013 at 1:30 PM

The fork is implied. Just didn’t have the heart to actually stick the poor beast when it came down to it. ; )

Here ya go.

Bmore on March 5, 2013 at 2:27 PM

It may be too late. Ed proves the point when he says we’re too used to the government programs. We’ve grown used to the idea that government is supposed to solve our problems and catch us when we fall (even if we fall by our own poor choices). Our neighbors are supposed to get up and go to work, and work hard to pay for our comfort and financial security. Its all written. We refuse to go back.

Will no one stand up and explain why relying on promises that can’t be kept will destroy us all – the righteous and the unrighteous? We are standing on a tightrope and we think we’re in a hammock.

If we’ve lost Ed, we’ve lost.

LilyBart on March 5, 2013 at 2:28 PM

Conservatives just can’t win an election with the populace that we have. People might be “conservative” in their life and world-view but they still vote for who “feels their pain” more, and that’s not going to be the GOP candidate, no matter how helpful the conservative policy proposals would be to alleviate that “pain”.

happytobehere on March 5, 2013 at 2:19 PM

I agree with your analysis up to a point. I would add in that most people – even those self-identifying as conservative – don’t want to see their entitlements/benefits changed or lessened. That creates a very solid majority coalition against any entitlement reform, any real spending cuts or any reduction in the size or scope of gov’t.

I’ve written many comments before on different threads all saying the same thing. I think universal suffrage democracy is always doomed to failure because the majority discovers its ability to vote for “free stuff” for itself. We are seeing it happen in all western democracies. I don’t see any of them or us changing course.

Monkeytoe on March 5, 2013 at 2:28 PM

I know this much – if Republicans nominate Jeb Bush in 2016, the democrats will win even if they nominate Maxine Waters.

VorDaj on March 5, 2013 at 2:29 PM

SWalker on March 5, 2013 at 2:04 PM

I don’t HATE the social conservatives, I just wish they’d leave their big government ideas at home and if they want to preach and evangalize to their friends and family or on TV or whatever that’s fine, but I don’t want to see that turn in to enforcing their beliefs on the rest of us with the power of the federal government.

In other words, I have about as much in common Bush and the “compassionate conservatives” (many of who were social cons and many of who were neo cons) as I do with the democrat progressives.

Timin203 on March 5, 2013 at 2:12 PM

Dude, I AM a Social Conservative, and I don’t have any damned “big government ideas” at all nor am I some kind of exception amongst the “Social Conservative” crowd. As to the “enforcing their beliefs on the rest of us” you have some very perverse notions, I do not want to force my religious beliefs or morals on you or anyone else, but I am damned sick and tired of the Government forcing immoral laws on me.

My religious beliefs designate abortion as a crime against humanity, it’s infanticide pure and simple. My religious convictions say that homosexuality is a sin. But the feral Government has not only made both of those legal, they place me at jeopardy for legal retribution for even objecting to these practice and to add insult to injury, I am forced t support financially via my taxes abortion and the incessant unending legal challenges by the homosexual community with regards to SSM.

Conservative is defined as follows;

con·serv·a·tive
[kuhn-sur-vuh-tiv] Show IPA
adjective
1.
disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
2.
cautiously moderate or purposefully low: a conservative estimate.
3.
traditional in style or manner; avoiding novelty or showiness: conservative suit.
4.
( often initial capital letter ) of or pertaining to the Conservative party.
5.
( initial capital letter ) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Conservative Jews or Conservative Judaism.

Yes, I am a Conservative, fiscally, socially and defense wise. I am opposed to “Progressive Marxist moral and ethical values supplanting the traditional moral and ethical values of the United States of America”.

SWalker on March 5, 2013 at 2:30 PM

I don’t HATE the social conservatives, I just wish they’d leave their big government ideas at home and if they want to preach and evangalize to their friends and family or on TV or whatever that’s fine, but I don’t want to see that turn in to enforcing their beliefs on the rest of us with the power of the federal government.

Timin203 on March 5, 2013 at 2:12 PM

What big government idea? Who made abortion legal under all circumstances? Government and liberals… Who wants to legalize mariwana and gay marriage? Government and liberals… So it is OK for liberals to use the government to change the social morality and structure of our society and it is not OK for social conservatives to fight back?… Go f*** yourself Timin203… Also go to an abortion clinic and cheer up each woman who goes there to kill her baby…

mnjg on March 5, 2013 at 2:31 PM

Matt wrote a column yesterday in which he called for a new embrace of “compassionate conservatism” as a way to expand the reach of both the party and the movement. Instead, I suggest adopting “practical conservatism”

Why not try something that hasn’t been tried since Ronald Reagan – conservative conservatism?

VorDaj on March 5, 2013 at 2:32 PM

While this stuff is important, the actual GOTV efforts – which require actual people dragging others to the polls, was far more important in 2012 and the GOP was way behind on that. Because the country is pretty evenly split, the physical GOTV will likely be as important in the next several election cycles as well.

As always, the establishment is going to take away the wrong lessons – mostly the lessons the media want them to believe – i.e., become more liberal.

Monkeytoe on March 5, 2013 at 2:23 PM

The GOTV effort comes from the base. The base that Romney ran screaming away from. No wonder they (we) didn’t make an effort. Y’all don’t want us, and we know it.

cptacek on March 5, 2013 at 2:32 PM

I have friends who can see themselves as libertarians, but not as conservatives.

What they can’t stomach was illustrated in the debate that ran for several days on this site concerning marriage, which found a number of people quoting Bible verses at each other. But what’s at issue in that instance is the standing in law of competing definitions, and their societal effects and implications. It can’t be about competing revelations or interpretations of sacred writings. If that’s the game, then the polygamist’s religious convictions are just as “true” as anyone else’s.

Liberty must include freedom from religion. Religion can provide a basis for a person’s feelings and opinions about one or another policy issue, but the policy debate that ensues must proceed on other terms.

Byron on March 5, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Without practical answers on how conservatism will make life better, why would anyone buy into it at all?

To some extent, this sentence captures the problematic thinking of even conservatives. We must prove how conservative policies will definitely make your life better.

Notice the implied assumption there? Gov’t must make everyone’s life better. Gov’t is responsible for your well being and your success in life.

I understand what Ed is trying to argue – that in order to “sell conservatism” you have to demonstrate how it will give the individual voter something better than liberalism will. The problem is we can’t ever make that argument while still being conservative. Liberalism is a sham – offering short term benefits borrowed from the future, slowly bankrupting our country, creating dependent citizens, etc.

If we are really going to compete in the way Ed is talking about – coming up with some concrete short term benefit that we can sell to an individual voter – we are in a bidding war with the dems. We can’t ever win that (or, if we do, we will not be even remotely conservative).

Conservatism is the much harder sell exactly b/c conservatism tells you that you are responsible for your own well being and success. That is why GOP incumbents always drift left – it is much easier to get votes when you can point to something you “gave” to your constituents rather than pointing out how you are trying to protect against the Country going bankrupt in a few years.

Monkeytoe on March 5, 2013 at 2:36 PM

The GOTV effort comes from the base. The base that Romney ran screaming away from. No wonder they (we) didn’t make an effort. Y’all don’t want us, and we know it.

cptacek on March 5, 2013 at 2:32 PM

Yes and No. The GOTV effort in terms of volunteers is the base. But in terms of organizing it, planning it and making sure it is well executed rests with the campaign staff and consultants. By all accounts, the GOTV plan that team Romney came up with failed for many reasons, but not because they did not have enough volunteers.

Monkeytoe on March 5, 2013 at 2:39 PM

I have friends who can see themselves as libertarians, but not as conservatives.

What they can’t stomach was illustrated in the debate that ran for several days on this site concerning marriage, which found a number of people quoting Bible verses at each other. But what’s at issue in that instance is the standing in law of competing definitions, and their societal effects and implications. It can’t be about competing revelations or interpretations of sacred writings. If that’s the game, then the polygamist’s religious convictions are just as “true” as anyone else’s.

Liberty must include freedom from religion. Religion can provide a basis for a person’s feelings and opinions about one or another policy issue, but the policy debate that ensues must proceed on other terms.

Byron on March 5, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Libertarians should be pushing for “decisions about state recognition of gay relationships” at the state level. Just because one person argues about something because of their religious convictions doesn’t mean that the conclusion can’t be arrived at by other means.

cptacek on March 5, 2013 at 2:40 PM

what matters to God ought to matter to us, not for reasons having to do with arbitrary and outdated doctrines but with our basic design. The child in inner city Detroit and sub-Saharan Africa have worth because God has bestowed worth on them, as on us; because they and we are created in His image and likeness.

Oh just brilliant! Turn the Republican party into a religion in your face party and the democrats will be able to beat us even if they run Maxine Waters.

VorDaj on March 5, 2013 at 2:40 PM

Social Conservatives are Dominionist Christians whose only political goal is to legislate their Religious morality.

From SWalker 2:04 PM…

Yes, I do understand this, and I have said it is the one thing that I butt heads with liberals about, they truly believe cons want to legislate christianity!

Each one of the founders came from a different religious belief, and so they based much of what they did on a belief in God, not any one functioning religious belief, they came from places where after the King/Queen the Church also ran roughshod over the people…

As the left rewrites history, I have seen where they(Founders) are now called Deists… It’s wrong.

We do need the moral and ethical guidance that believing in God provides…

All the old standards have been taken away by athiests and the like.

What you say is right…

And I do see the Marxist influence in the mentality, I have not been indoctrinated into Progressive Marxism not one iota!

But then again maybe I have…

I would not want any religious person or faith to have ‘rule’ over me. I would expect tho that as was done in the past, at a minimum the 10 commandmants be taught and prayer restored in school.

Ultimately tho, what one believes resides and starts in the home!

I very well see the problems within the conservative group as a whole… I guess it and we are doomed…

Scrumpy on March 5, 2013 at 2:41 PM

The one thing that works the worst against Republicans in elections is not the democrat strategies and tactics but it is the nature of Republican voter who simply is not willing to follow orders like the democrat voter does… The Republican voter rebelious attitude has been strengthened in the last 10 years by conservative blogs and talk radio… Get rid of the RINOS they screamed… And anyone who disagree with them on anything becomes a RINO even those who were not RINOs yesterday suddenly become RINOs today…

mnjg on March 5, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Techy conservatives blame the party’s inferior social media presence and outdated voter targeting and data-mining.

While this stuff is important, the actual GOTV efforts – which require actual people dragging others to the polls, was far more important in 2012 and the GOP was way behind on that. Because the country is pretty evenly split, the physical GOTV will likely be as important in the next several election cycles as well.

As always, the establishment is going to take away the wrong lessons – mostly the lessons the media want them to believe – i.e., become more liberal.

Monkeytoe on March 5, 2013 at 2:23 PM

I agree. Social media was somewhat important in 2008 because being hooked in was the “smart” thing. And young Obama worked social media better then old MCain. But even in 2008 , Obama’s color, big union GOTV(using dated but data mining techniques but based on PROVEN, well worn lists – btw I know something about this) and old fashioned TV commercials dwarfed social media in impact.

In 2012 the newness and coolness of social media was gone. PROOF that new tech hadn’t helped turn out votes was that almost 10million less people voted. Good old fashioned Alinsky methods had more impact then the Obama facebook site. ORCA was bad , not so much because it failed but because it diverted resources from proven methods of GOTV.

BoxHead1 on March 5, 2013 at 2:42 PM

Yes and No. The GOTV effort in terms of volunteers is the base. But in terms of organizing it, planning it and making sure it is well executed rests with the campaign staff and consultants. By all accounts, the GOTV plan that team Romney came up with failed for many reasons, but not because they did not have enough volunteers.

Monkeytoe on March 5, 2013 at 2:39 PM

I can agree with this, at the official level. I think the “hey honey, I’m going to vote. Wanna come with me?” GOTV effort is underappreciated and lacking this time around.

cptacek on March 5, 2013 at 2:43 PM

dated data mining techniques based on

BoxHead1 on March 5, 2013 at 2:43 PM

Byron on March 5, 2013 at 2:35 PM

78% of Americans are Christians. You cannot compatmentalize our faith. Regardless of how much you want to. Obama is trying his best to as I write this, and the blowback is building.

Take values and ethics out of the Republican Party, then. Or, perhaps turn them into situational things.

Then, you and others can have your wish and become Democratic Party II by sacrificing the important values that this country was built on…all for the sake of political expediency.

This mealy-mouthed, spineless, Vichy Republican garbaqe is giving me gas.

kingsjester on March 5, 2013 at 2:43 PM

Society is nothing more than a collection of individuals.

If Peter Wehner feels a moral duty to help the poor, that’s fine. Power to him.

But stop trying to enlist me into your damn religious crusade against my will. I will be the judge of whether and how and to what extent I will provide charity out of my own pockets to the needy, because I’m the one who earned that money in the first place.

FOAD, you contemptible statist dirtbag.

Centerfire on March 5, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Traitors of the land

Schadenfreude on March 5, 2013 at 2:47 PM

If the Republican party was a horse, it would have been shot by now.

VorDaj on March 5, 2013 at 2:49 PM

How about we just adopt actual conservatism? Of course, we can’t sell that to enough people, now that Democrats have shown them they can vote themselves goodies from the public fisc. So, let it burn.

GWB on March 5, 2013 at 2:51 PM

SWalker on March 5, 2013 at 2:30 PM

Our political enemy has so very well divided us into neat little compartments, they broke us down to suit their agendas…

And Conservatives are now in-fighting to declare their stance, and still others want to call one a liar to ones face?

This whole fracking thing is fracked…

The bullshite gets deeper and deeper…

Let us all remain as individuals, and keep on losing every battle.

Cuz the war is lost…

Scrumpy on March 5, 2013 at 2:53 PM

If the Republican party was a horse, it would have been shot by now.

VorDaj on March 5, 2013 at 2:49 PM

And then what? wait for VorDaj and bunch of anoymous bloggers to create a new party and lead us to the promised land?

mnjg on March 5, 2013 at 2:55 PM

If Peter Wehner feels a moral duty to help the poor, that’s fine. Power to him.

But stop trying to enlist me into your damn religious crusade against my will. I will be the judge of whether and how and to what extent I will provide charity out of my own pockets to the needy, because I’m the one who earned that money in the first place.FOAD, you contemptible statist dirtbag.

Centerfire on March 5, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Neither one of actually wants him to literally die, of course, but if that Holy Roller comes to epitomize the Republican Party, we can kiss the Republican Party and America goodbye.

VorDaj on March 5, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Looking to “Politico” for advice and guidance on Conservatism…REALLY?!?

Did Townhall just sell HotAir to The WaPo or something?

Czar of Defenestration on March 5, 2013 at 2:57 PM

Without practical answers on how conservatism will make life better, why would anyone buy into it at all?

No, that’s not how it works. People vote for liberals because they share the liberal’s world-view. They feel “oppressed” in some way or they feel someone else is “oppressed” and they feel empathy for that “oppressed” person.

People vote for conservatives because they feel the conservative understands the importance of maintaining Civilization and curtailing barbarism.

And libertarians rarely vote (just kidding?) because they want to vote for someone that cares about Freedom vs. Coercion.

Our major obstacle is voter turnout. Registered voter polls show substantial leads for Democrats. Likely voter polls always were more towards Republicans. But as more people vote and voting becomes even easier we will see increasing numbers of winners from the Democrat side.

happytobehere on March 5, 2013 at 2:57 PM

The GOP can’t separate the 3 strands of conservatism like Romney and other social trucers did in 2012. Look at 2010, when the GOP ran on a range of issues (repealing Obamacare, opposing Ground Zero Mosque, AZ SB 1070) that had large majority support of the American public (usually 65-70%) and encompassed not just fiscal conservatism, but also social and national security issues.

1) Repealing Obamacare (fiscal, social)

BOEHNER: We are going to repeal Obamacare and replace it with common sense reforms that will bring down the costs of health insurance… Beyond repealing Obamacare, we’re going to do everything we can to stop this bill from being implemented, to make sure it never happens. And, frankly, if we’re successful, this will become the No. 1 issue in the presidential election…

2) Opposing Ground Zero Mosque (social, national security)

CNN Poll: Nearly 70% Of Americans Oppose NYC Mosque Plan

3) AZ SB 1070 (national security, fiscal)

The poll suggested that 65 percent of registered voters surveyed approved of Senate Bill 1070, while 35 percent did not.

Of course, with 20/20 hindsight we know the GOP abandoned 2010 issues immediately after gaining power and lost huge in 2012 when they tried to run only on “the economy” and ignored even fiscal issues like Obamacare due to the Romneycare albatross. Fiscal, social, and national security issues work together and can’t be separated. Don’t run on any type of modified conservatism … practical …compassionate …whatever.

Run on conservatism. Period. Then follow through on what you said you were going to on the campaign trail.

sauldalinsky on March 5, 2013 at 2:58 PM

Centerfire on March 5, 2013 at 2:46 PM

0bama is already forcing you to contribute to others charitably…

Moron!

It’s called TAX!!!!

Scrumpy on March 5, 2013 at 2:58 PM

Run on conservatism. Period. Then follow through on what you said you were going to on the campaign trail.

sauldalinsky on March 5, 2013 at 2:58 PM

Amen to that!

Scrumpy on March 5, 2013 at 3:01 PM

And then what? wait for VorDaj and bunch of anoymous bloggers to create a new party and lead us to the promised land?

mnjg on March 5, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Well, it’s probably a long shot, but at the rate things are going, it may be your last and only hope.

VorDaj on March 5, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Looking to “Politico” for advice and guidance on Conservatism…REALLY?!?

Did Townhall just sell HotAir to The WaPo or something?

Czar of Defenestration on March 5, 2013 at 2:57 PM

It is a game… Even the conservative blogs are now playing the game of ratings… You know what brings more high ratings to conservative blogs than going after Obama? Going after the Republican party, the RINOs, the GOP establishment, etc… It is all about the money at the end… Never forget this…

mnjg on March 5, 2013 at 3:01 PM

It is a game… Even the conservative blogs are now playing the game of ratings… You know what brings more high ratings to conservative blogs than going after Obama? Going after the Republican party, the RINOs, the GOP establishment, etc… It is all about the money at the end… Never forget this…

mnjg on March 5, 2013 at 3:01 PM

No kidding. That’s why we here have to keep putting up month after month with the ghoulish liberal trolls here, no matter what they post. They have free reign, while we Conservatives must always mind our manners.

Liam on March 5, 2013 at 3:06 PM

mnjg on March 5, 2013 at 3:01 PM

I see that too…

Scrumpy on March 5, 2013 at 3:08 PM

Well, it’s probably a long shot, but at the rate things are going, it may be your last and only hope.

VorDaj on March 5, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Yeah all heil VorDaj and the league of anonymous bloggers… A bunch of little f***s who believe that they are vastly more important than they are in real life… People who can barely handle their insignificant and miserable lives want to destroy a whole party and build a new one and all this with being anonymous bloggers on the internet ranting and raving about this RINO and that RINO… The Internet creates delusions of greatness and self importance…

mnjg on March 5, 2013 at 3:10 PM

We need to come together once again as a whole, as The Stool, with 3 strong legs under it, and promote our message, it needs to be clear and concise.

Scrumpy on March 5, 2013 at 1:45 PM

We also need a new analogy: any mention of The Stool makes me think of the current regime and those who populate it. If you know what I mean…

affenhauer on March 5, 2013 at 3:19 PM

mnjg on March 5, 2013 at 3:10 PM

You sure are given to emotional outbursts. Probably best that you confine that to the internet else the men in the nice white coats might well come for you.

VorDaj on March 5, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Wehner is simply playing progressive games on his solidarity with the poor shtick. I have no trouble with charity, but that’s not government’s place. They are bad at it, and it is bloody expensive because they are so bad at it. And, that’s leaving aside that government is too easily gamed. Any party that thinks we should be putting a government gun to anyone’s head to force charitable giving is morally dessicated and is unworthy of support or allegiance.

That’s describes the ruling party to a ‘T,’ alas.

Quartermaster on March 5, 2013 at 3:31 PM

affenhauer on March 5, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Lol, yeah I know what you mean…

Not a good name! But it was Reagans reference…

Thinking cap on! :-)

Scrumpy on March 5, 2013 at 3:38 PM

kingsjester on March 5, 2013 at 2:43 PM

I don’t care if 100% of Americans are Christians, we have a Constitutionally secular government, and thank God for that.

You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t find much to like about using Christianity as a club to destroy the national electoral chances of the GOP, the only alternative to the Democrats that now exists.

Byron on March 5, 2013 at 4:03 PM

The Internet creates delusions of greatness and self importance…

mnjg on March 5, 2013 at 3:10 PM

You are a prime example. You likely wouldn’t even be allowed to clean VorDaj’s shoes, you little twit.

Schadenfreude on March 5, 2013 at 4:07 PM

From a Dept of State website. Yes, really.

The Continental-Confederation Congress, a legislative body that governed the United States from 1774 to 1789, contained an extraordinary number of deeply religious men. The amount of energy that Congress invested in encouraging the practice of religion in the new nation exceeded that expended by any subsequent American national government. Although the Articles of Confederation did not officially authorize Congress to concern itself with religion, the citizenry did not object to such activities. This lack of objection suggests that both the legislators and the public considered it appropriate for the national government to promote a nondenominational, nonpolemical Christianity.

Congress appointed chaplains for itself and the armed forces, sponsored the publication of a Bible, imposed Christian morality on the armed forces, and granted public lands to promote Christianity among the Indians. National days of thanksgiving and of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer” were proclaimed by Congress at least twice a year throughout the war. Congress was guided by “covenant theology,” a Reformation doctrine especially dear to New England Puritans, which held that God bound himself in an agreement with a nation and its people. This agreement stipulated that they “should be prosperous or afflicted, according as their general Obedience or Disobedience thereto appears.” Wars and revolutions were, accordingly, considered afflictions, as divine punishments for sin, from which a nation could rescue itself by repentance and reformation.

The first national government of the United States, was convinced that the “public prosperity” of a society depended on the vitality of its religion. Nothing less than a “spirit of universal reformation among all ranks and degrees of our citizens,” Congress declared to the American people, would “make us a holy, that so we may be a happy people.”

INC on March 5, 2013 at 4:14 PM

Bmore on March 5, 2013 at 2:27 PM

Thank you!!!

Now, make sure our friend RWM gets it. You’re way cool/talented.

Schadenfreude on March 5, 2013 at 4:18 PM

It is more likely that you are bigoted.

kingsjester on March 5, 2013 at 2:09 PM

The second post on your blog and the crosses you post at the top along are a wonderful testament to your Lord and Savior. Good job.

Let me know when you have a reason for denying gay marriage that is not based on bigotry.

Capitalist Hog on March 5, 2013 at 4:40 PM

Schadenfreude on March 5, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Opinionator thought the version I added was more accurate. Your thoughts?

Bmore on March 5, 2013 at 4:40 PM

You are a prime example. You likely wouldn’t even be allowed to clean VorDaj’s shoes, you little twit.

Schadenfreude on March 5, 2013 at 4:07 PM

Yeah the magnificent VorDaj and Schadenfreude… Two very powerful anonymous bloggers who are going to change the course of history forever when they will destroy the Republican party an create in its place the most powerful party ever called The Whiners Party…

mnjg on March 5, 2013 at 4:45 PM

Capitalist Hog on March 5, 2013 at 4:40 PM

So, Christianity = Bigotry?

You left your irony board on again, Skippy.

kingsjester on March 5, 2013 at 4:48 PM

Byron on March 5, 2013 at 4:03 PM

Um…I’m a Reagan Conservative. How is that destroying the GOP?

They seem to be doing a fine job of it without me.

kingsjester on March 5, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Let me know when you have a reason for denying gay marriage that is not based on bigotry.

Capitalist Hog on March 5, 2013 at 4:40 PM

That is a leftist argument (i.e., “if you don’t agree with me it is because you are a bigot”).

I’m not heavily invested in gay marriage except to the extent that I don’t want it created as a right by the courts – which will only create/add to the precedent of the Court finding rights, laws and policy based upon judges’ political persuasions – which is antithetical to the rule of law or a constitutional republic such as ours. If various states decide – through their legislatures – to enact laws allowing for gay marriage, I don’t really care (to the extent another state is not required to recognize such marriage).

However, there are certainly non-bigoted conservative arguments in favor of opposing gay marriage. For instance, one aspect of conservatism is the belief that various institutions (such as marriage) created over time came about for a reason, and we should not willy-nilly rush to get rid of those institutions.

There is also the slippery slope argument – which people routinely poo poo, but which is actually a valid argument. If we decide today that marriage is not between 1 man and 1 woman, but is also between 2 women or 2 men, why tomorrow can it not be between three people? What, logically, is the difference? Once you take out the procreative aspect of marriage (whether or not the married couple actually procreates), than 2 is an arbitrary number. A threesome could just as easily feel a deep love between themselves as any two people. Indeed, 4 or 5 people can. What reason exists for denying them the right to marriage?

Some will argue that slippery slope arguments are not valid. They argue that because they know there is no answer to the issues posed. Once you take away the traditional, procreative (and yes, religious) reasons for marriage being defined as between one man and one woman, any limit you put on who can get married to who is completely arbitrary and can be challenged with the same arguments made for gay marriage.

So, while I don’t fee strongly about gay marriage, I do feel strongly that arguing anyone who disagrees with you is a bigot is childish.

Monkeytoe on March 5, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Marriage and Politics
Why the debate matters; why the conjugal view can prevail

By Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson & Robert P. George

An excellent article by the authors of the book What Is Marriage?

Here’s a snippet from page 2:

The research of sociologists David Popenoe and Alan Wolfe on Scandinavian countries shows that as marriage culture declines, the size and scope of state power and spending grow. Libertarians, please take note.

INC on March 5, 2013 at 5:05 PM

A study by the left-leaning Brookings Institution finds that $229 billion in welfare spending between 1970 and 1996 can be attributed to the breakdown of the marriage culture and the resulting exacerbation of social ills: teen pregnancy, poverty, crime, drug abuse, and health problems. A 2008 study found that divorce and unwed childbearing cost taxpayers $112 billion each year.

Government is leaner and more effective when it supports marital norms than when it tries to pick up the pieces from a shattered marriage culture. And it can support these norms without banning anything. Libertarians and social conservatives should be allies on marriage.

INC on March 5, 2013 at 5:06 PM

From page 3:

Thus, in their statement “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” more than 300 “LGBT and allied” scholars and advocates — including such prominent figures as Gloria Steinem and NYU law professor Kenji Yoshino — call for legally recognizing sexual relationships involving more than two partners. Professor Elizabeth Brake, of the University of Calgary, argues that justice requires using legal recognition to correct for “past discrimination against . . . polygamists and care networks.”

INC on March 5, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Back to limited government on page 4:

Limited government. The state is (or should be) a supporting actor in our lives, not a protagonist. It exists to create the conditions under which individuals and our freely formed communities can thrive. The most important free community, on which all others depend, is the marriage-based family; and the conditions for its thriving include the accommodations and pressures that marriage law provides for couples to stay together. Redefining marriage will further erode marital norms, thrusting the state further into leading roles for which it is poorly suited: parent and discipliner to the orphaned, provider to the neglected, and arbiter of disputes over custody, paternity, and visitation. As the family weakens, our welfare and correctional bureaucracies grow.

Even Jonah Goldberg in Liberal Fascism states that the family is the institution most resistant to indoctrination.

INC on March 5, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Assault-style weapons “are designed to quickly and efficiently kill large numbers of human beings,” Morse said.

So why do the police carry these weapons that are only good for “quickly and efficiently kill large numbers of human beings,”?

RJL on March 5, 2013 at 6:00 PM

Sorry, Ed, you are wrong on this one.

We don’t need “practical conservatism” or “compassionate conservatism”; we need Conservatism, which we haven’t had since Reagan. We need to stop nominating RINOs like McCain and Romney and Christie. The system is designed by those in power so that we will always, always nominate RINOs. When faced with Democrat or Democrat-lite, most conservatives don’t bother to vote and most liberals will take the full liberal over the liberal-lite.

We cannot afford Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They are destroying our country economically and morally. They are the cancer that is killing this once great nation.

Theophile on March 5, 2013 at 6:40 PM

“Conservatism that recognizes the political reality of today…” sounds a lot like give up your principles to win elections.I am very leery of “conservatives who use this phrase!

redware on March 5, 2013 at 6:53 PM

In practical terms, the entitlement programs we have cannot be dismantled, as Randian purists would prefer. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are too popular for repeal, and more importantly, deliver a level of living standards on which millions of Americans rely — standards that would plummet in these programs’ absence. Instead of denying that, practical conservatism would embrace that — because on the trajectory of current policy, these programs will utterly collapse at some point. There is, after all, nothing compassionate about a default, or about sticking succeeding generations with the bill for benefits we enjoy in the present.

You are right. We cannot just dismantle them politically. As such, the only real answer to not play tax collector for the welfare state by managing them so that they are able to continue into the future destroying more and more of the next generation’s freedom.
What the Conservatives and the Republicans need to do is just leave them alone. When the democrats demand more money and lower taxes, let them have it. This generation is the one VOTING for these things, let this generation to be the ones to suffer their collapse. But do not figure out a way to extend them for decades to come. All that does is further allow the Democrats to gain more and more government dependents into their voting booths.

What will happen when the entitlements and the welfare state collapse? Inflation will happen as the government first tries to print money to make up for it, but eventually it all ends. The $16,000,000,000,000 debt become a few hours work for Joe at the fry daddy. But in the end, the idea of a welfare and entitlement state is destroyed. Giving the children of the next generation a STABLE platform from which to make a better society from.

astonerii on March 5, 2013 at 6:55 PM

Liberty must include freedom from religion. Religion can provide a basis for a person’s feelings and opinions about one or another policy issue, but the policy debate that ensues must proceed on other terms.

Byron on March 5, 2013 at 2:35 PM

What does this even mean? From the definition at dictionary.com:

a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

How is it even remotely possible to be “free from religion”? Religion is my set of beliefs. You don’t believe in God. Fine. Whatever. The non-existence of God is part of your beliefs. It is part of your religion.

When you say you want “freedom from religion”, what you really want is “freedom from my religion”. You tell me that the only “legitimate” form of debate is based solely on the things that you believe in, and then accuse me of being a theocrat and “imposing my beliefs upon you”. All the while being completely ignorant of your own self-righteous hypocrisy.

You may not find it convincing to read bible verses, but others do. You say we need to be more inclusive of people like you, try being inclusive of people like me. You might find the common ground you are looking for.

ninja duck on March 5, 2013 at 9:30 PM

Anyone who feels compelled to add an adjective to the term “conservatism” isn’t a conservative and probably disagrees with the principles of conservatism. He may not be familiar with its ideological underpinnings either. Just saying.

ncjetsfan on March 6, 2013 at 5:17 AM

Still, it seems to me that any political philosophy or party that doesn’t take into account the care and concerns of the weak and marginal is morally desiccated and hardly worthy of one’s allegiance. At the risk of sounding simplistic, what matters to God ought to matter to us, not for reasons having to do with arbitrary and outdated doctrines but with our basic design. The child in inner city Detroit and sub-Saharan Africa have worth because God has bestowed worth on them, as on us; because they and we are created in His image and likeness.

This, once again, cedes everything to the liberal belief that a) the gov’t can cure poverty and create utopia and b) it is the gov’t's job to take care of people. You may as well be a liberal, because with this as your core principal, the argument isn’t over size and scope of gov’t, it is over how the gov’t will take care of people.

Conservatives have for years argued – correctly – that everyone would be better off if the gov’t were not involved in everything and were smaller. Conservatives argue that the gov’t getting involved in taking care of the poor pushed out families, churches, communities, etc., and created the dependency of those it sought to help.

Now come the “new conservatives” who want to try and come up with some “conservative” way for the gov’t to take care of people.

Nobody denies that poor inner-city kids have value. Of course they do. That is not the question. The question is whether it is the gov’t's job to care for them from cradle to grave or whether such things are best left to families, communities, churches, etc. the question isn’t whether the gov’t “cares” for such children as evidenced through ever more entitlement programs, but whether such children would be better off if the gov’t were less intrusive, less taxing, less spending. True conservatives will argue that under conservatism, the inner-city children will be better off b/c w/o dependency creating entitlements people will once again become self sufficient, families, communities and churches will once again step into the breach to help (and help in ways that get people to become self-sufficient, not dependent upon gov’t largess), that with less regulation and taxation there will be more and better jobs, with school choice there will be better education.

But Ed and those like him want instead to bid against liberals over who cares more for the poor through “programs” and “Policies” that take care of the poor. That is not and never will be conservatism.

So, what Ed is arguing here is not conservatism – it is strategy for the GOP. And that strategy is become more liberal. Prove that you care about people by giving people things with gov’t money.

Monkeytoe on March 6, 2013 at 7:56 AM

Conservatism is Conservatism. There is no need for an adjective in front of it, ie Compassionate or Practical. Mr. Morrissey, You should know better. I do not think Politico is a good place to base your assessment of where the Conservative Movement needs to go.

dmart81 on March 6, 2013 at 9:16 AM

Also, it took the left nearly 100 years to get to today’s political reality. We have a long fight ahead of us. It will not be won by watering down our principles.

dmart81 on March 6, 2013 at 9:26 AM

Why is it that everybody wants to add a prefix to Conservatism? Compassionate this, moderate this, reasonable this, severely this, practical this. Why not just Conservatism?

What is wrong with just Conservatism? Being a Conservative, by nature, means, being compassionate, it means you want others to succeed. It means you’re logical, not averse to reason, sense or judgment, ergo, you’re practical.

Why this ridiculous need to always attach a prefix? Why?

HerneTheHunter on March 6, 2013 at 9:41 AM

More Petainism from the Jeb 2016! crowd.

Jesus, it never ends. I’m surprised Ed is pushing this.

victor82 on March 6, 2013 at 9:59 AM

It isn’t about not reaching out to this group or that group. It isn’t about the conservative message not being compassionate enough. And it isn’t social conservatives turning off voters.

This constant blame game by republicans is getting old fast! Romney lost because he could not fight Obamacare. And the fat windbag NJ governor screwed the whole party with his slobbering all over Obama right before the election.

IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE!

fight like a girl on March 6, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Your article is no less Utopian fantasy thinking that what is typically engaged in by the left. It looks more like Pragmatic conservatism… Like what Ponnuru and the other “intelligentsia” say about abandoning all principles and go socialist, then maybe we’ll win an election? Or something.

Practical conservatism – like trying to argue with a straight face that your 60 year budget will eventually balance (if Democrats will go along with the plan for the next 60 years)? Social Security and Medicare are going to devour the totality of all tax receipts (fairly soon) and Republicans are doing the same thing that the left is, *hoping* that there will be some economic miracle that will happen so everybody can keep spending and nobody has to address baseline budgeting, and hurt somebody’s feelings. Maybe somebody at Apple will invent a new Ipad that cures cancer and walks the dog and does the dishes too.

Accepting mass migrations of unskilled people from the third world is another catastrophe; it doesn’t have anything to do with “Racism” or white people worried about being surrounded by brown people: who the hell is going to pay the taxes to build the roads, power plants, schools and sewage treatment facilities for all those people not paying taxes?

That 47% thing that all the Republicans want to run away from is a real problem, and it’s not going to be fixed by some moderate Republican’s “good idea fairy” fix in rhetoric. For Christ’s sake, DeTocqueville had this figured out nearly 200 years ago…people are going to vote for freebies and handouts over hard work every single time – why some Republicans want to dismiss human nature is beyond me, it’s just as stupid as leftist fantasies about the perfectibility of man. The Democrats have cracked the code, there’s no stigma about welfare and handouts any more. There’s nothing going to be fixed until people start changing the culture, and that’s not going to happen until “conservatives” and Republicans man-up, grab their cajones and start calling out the ugly truth.

But I don’t give Republican beltway pundits and politicians that much credit. It’s all about power, the Republicans (pundits and politicians) don’t stand for a damn thing anymore. If that’s the case, how about simply being honest about it? To win, simply spend five times more than Democrats on all the favored minority groups and special interests.

John_G on March 6, 2013 at 2:38 PM

This is a cliche John_G that the media is pushing you to believe as a favor to their friends in the administration:

the Republicans (pundits and politicians) don’t stand for a damn thing anymore.

One way they do it, is to plant issues that upset conservatives in the media to make our guys look bad. They ask their liberal preconceived notion questions in a way that we don’t like the answer when it comes out. They run and put the McCain’s and the Graham’s on the spot with questions that no one would have asked them, they offer Facts in their questions that are distorted, so the answer cannot sound right to us.

Republicans still stand for the same boring things that don’t get any tv time except the things the media wants to mock, like heterosexual marriage and pro life. Most republicans still stand for the same unpopular things as ever. You do hear less and less about it. You have to find your own media to tell you what you want to hear.

For instance dear, I might say after seeing the former catholic nun that married the two lesbians in a Catholic ceremony, wondering whither the new pope and the Catholic Church on the nightly news…I might have said, Catholics don’t stand for what they used to…But I know that they don’t show the real church on TV. And you know what…the catholic church has never been “for” pedophiles or FOR any sexual deviancy… Not FOR it. Never FOR it. Just like Republicans are not FOR rape. The media would have you think so.

Fleuries on March 7, 2013 at 4:40 PM

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