Sunday, March 26, 2006

"Mainstream Conservatives" pt 2

Well, it should be obvious by now that the GOP has not helped the cause of limited government. In fact, it has taken a difficult situation and made it worse. Why has this happened? The GOP establishment likes to tell the mainstream conservatives that they are perceived as right-wing crazies and that they should defer to the Establishment's superior politcal savvy. On some days they probably even believe it.

Simply put, this is a crock. First of all, where there is a substantial difference between the conservatives and the Establishment, the conservatives' position is often much more popular, for example on immigration. But there is more to it than that as well. Today's politically-connected conservatives have their own media outlets, their own think tanks, its own interest groups. In other words, they have been around the block a few times. They understand very well the virtue of taking a half a loaf and living to fight another day. They also know that they care about things like abortion or Terri Schiavo much more than the typical American. Further, even fairminded Americans who disagree with conservatives on an issue like this will tend to cut them a little bit of slack because they can accept a differing opinion as an expression of principle.

No, the problem between mainstream conservatives and the GOP establishment is that the two parties happen to see a couple of very important things differently, most especially the virtue of limited government. Today, there is a GOP President, and GOP leadership of both houses of Congress, of which the Republican leadership in Congress is in substantial peril this November. Frankly, at this point GOP leadership in Congress doesn't do a whole lot for conservatives. If the D's regain power in this election, life will go on. The GOP will desperately need money, votes and enthusiasm from the base to keep its leadership. The mainstream conservatives should choosely wisely whethere they want to give it.

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