RedState’s leader and my friend, Erick Erickson, wrote a piece today titled “The Peter Principle”, in which he compares Peter’s thrice denial of Christ to Republicans who dismiss the views of Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and Dick Cheney. Cheney was at least an elected leader. The others are not.
Rush Limbaugh is not my savior. He is neither my savior for my personal spiritual needs, nor the savior of the Republican party of modern conservatism. Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Period. He often says things I agree with, but he is driven by ratings. In order to ensure these ratings, he must incite and inflame. It is his job to keep “the base” irritated and agitated. And in doing so, he very often turns off those in the squishy middle that so many here are willing to purify from the party. The problem is, we need their votes to return from minority status.
Semantics about comparing Peter’s denial of Christ to Republican’s criticizing Limbaugh aside, the larger point of Erickson’s commentary is the suggestion that we should not be attacking our own, but instead be attacking “the left”. Using various references to scripture, he chides those of us who would criticize these modern day apostles:
Their typical means of ostracism is to condemn the rest of us for daring to say nice things about them. Reasons abound for this. Many of these weak minded fools are not really fellow travelers. Like a vulture flying in flock with swans, they benefit from the work the rest of us are doing to gain themselves credibility. The media plays along calling the vultures swans so others, they hope, see ugly ducklings around the vultures instead of swans.
Some mean well. Unfortunately, their high mindedness fractures and divides the rest.
I’ll answer with some scripture of my own, starting with Mathew 7:3-5 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye" As Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has so aptly stated, we were “fired for cause” in 2006 and 2008. Yet we have much of the same party and Congressional leadership. We are, in a sense, doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. The American people are a forgiving one, with one exception: Hypocrisy. Yet we have these same “leaders” that took us through the fiscal, ethical, personal, and lobbyist driven scandals that led us to deep minority status.
The subtitle of Erick’s piece is the quote “We Hang Together Or Hang Separately”. We hung together through the K-Street Project, where Jack Abramoff was able to get you legislation for Redskins tickets. We hung together while Ted Stevens gave us bridges to nowhere. We hung together when “deficits don’t matter” gave us Medicare Part D, and frankly, we’re hanging together now without a real assertion of what we’ll do differently if restored to power, clinging to the hope that Obama will fail, and the voters will have no other choice than to fire the other guys for cause, too. For these transgressions, we all were hung together on the gallows of 2006 and 2008. Fired. For. Cause.
Mathew 7:15 advises us that we should Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. We have endured our share of false profits, all the while we stood by and did nothing. If we attempted to speak out against expansion of government, hypocrisy of social conservatives, or trading K-Street dollars for legislation, we were told we were either aiding and abetting Democrats, or even worse, The Terrorists.
The last year of the Bush administration laid the perfect groundwork for Obama to accomplish all of his 100 day goals. We honestly have no one to blame but ourselves. I vowed then to no longer let party affiliation stop me from calling B.S. on our own. Before we can have credibility, we must be credible.
I have spent my time as part of Republican grass roots enabling candidates who have failed to walk the walk. I refuse to do so any longer. Nothing I can say or do in criticism of paid talking heads will do more damage to our cause than those who profit from inflaming the base in an effort to divide rather than unite us. I will judge them on their fruits, and will no longer continue to pretend that the spoiled is still ripe.
John 2: 14-15 gives us my final thoughts on those who have earned our criticism. “In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.” We, as a party, have become beholden to the money changers. Be they lobbyists, large corporations, or broadcast talking heads and authors, we are spending too much time following the money, and not our principles. Rush, Levin, and Coulter do just fine when we’re in the minority party, and I would argue, probably prosper more when we are.
We need a new generation of Conservative leaders. We also need to be a majority party. Our new leaders need to stand firm on principles of smaller, cheaper, and more limited government. But they also must recognize that to become a majority party, they must reach out to the sinners among us, and change their hearts and minds.
We, as Republicans, have too many Pharisees among us. We will never become a majority party again if we seek to only surround ourselves with the pure and self-righteous. We’ll need the votes of a few Zacheouses, Mary Magdalen’s, and Samaritan’s, to go along with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John’s vote.
Erick and I generally have the same goal, and that is to again achieve majority party status at the national level. But on our approach, and on this issue specifically, we disagree whole heartedly. I certainly believe that Rush, Levin, and Coulter have the right to say whatever they want to say, and in no way wish to infringe or limit that right. But I do not believe that they are helpful in the long run to us reaching those centrist voters we must have to be a majority. They are entertainers. They are not our savior.