the beltway bubble
Inside the beltway, you have the Establishment GOP head honchos who think that people like McCain or Romney were “electable” and who seem to be too willing to buy into the Democrat’s framing about the fiscal cliff as something to be avoided at all costs, which only ensures that the conservative movement gets the blame. There’s no point in having principles if you are always the one who has to compromise. OK we lost an election, but that doesn’t mean give up, it means try to find as much as we can still get but not give in. We can’t stop a tax rate increase but we can and should stand up and be specific on what spending cuts we are willing to make. Boehner hasn’t had the courage to stand up and say, “ok we want to eliminate the Department of Education and the Department of Housing – here is why.”
And outside the beltway, you have the Conservative Movement head honchos who think that we won the last election and who will brook no compromise whatsoever, and want to shoot ourselves in the foot by dethroning Boehner. That would be a disaster, as it will be far worse with Speaker Pelosi. Look at the Democrats agenda beyond the debt ceiling – immigration, finance, energy, etc. Without a Republican as speaker there wont be anyone to ride herd and the Dems will be able to recruit squish GOP votes in the House to get their agenda squeak through.
I recently found Redstate and I love how people here are so passionate and well-informed. But those of us who are “high information” (plugged into the conservative blogsphere, listen to conservative radio, etc) are in a kind of bubble relative to the rank and file Republicans beyond the beltway. Certainly few of the republican/conservatives I talk to here in Wisconsin really share the urgency of concern that I try to convey. (which is why RedState is so addictive – it’s a relief to have people on the same page for once). That trend is national, too – 59% of republicans want Boehner to compromise, see poll here.
So, who really represents the conservative movement? the insiders of the party leadership or the outsiders of the grassroots? I don’t think either one. Most folks who vote Republican do so for simple reasons. We value our community, we want to avoid big political or social experiments, we want freedom to make basic choices for ourselves about how we pray, live, eat and work. We want to just be left alone. We are hobbits. The Elves and the Dwarves don’t really speak for us but they want our votes and to help us fight the goblins. Well, OK, that’s a good cause, sign us up! But neither of those groups really cares about us.
There’s an older conservative movement than this fancy new one with its blogs and social media and whatnot, and that’s what we need a return to. And so surprising no one I’ll again invoke Governor Walker as an example – someone who doesn’t sit inside the mansion all day but who is out and about talking to folks about what matters, who made hard decisions for his state and then defended those decisions, and framed them according to conservative values, and persuaded people – even Obama voters! — that he was right, and that he should be allowed to continue. We had a recall here and he WON. That’s a mandate far more meaningful than getting 51% of the vote or some arbitrary spread in the EC.
If I was going to label it I would say we have Establishment Conservatism, Movement Conservatism, and living conservatism. The first two groups are more interested in fighting each other for control of the Republican Party than in fighting the Democrats. Ironically both Establishment and Movement conservatism are both completely bounded by the Beltway, even though the latter mostly lives outside it. But Living conservatism conservatives haven’t read Ayn Rand, don’t know or care who Grover Norquist is, and don’t really identify with all this “job creator” buzzword stuff. Just KISS – are you for lower taxes? more freedom? will you leave me alone? And will you do your job with the money I give you? Will you take pride in your public service if we elect you and take your job seriously, by reforming the finances and balancing the numbers? There’s such a high threshold to even being able to participate in a discussion between movement conservatives now, you need to be up on all the buzz and catchphrases and read up on Solyndra and Fast and Furious and whatnot. But the folks who vote Republican – the vast majority – don’t care about any of that. Living conservatism doesn’t live inside the Beltway and isn’t obsessed with what the people there think or say or do. We just have our lives in Hobbiton. And increasingly neither is relevant.
I guess I’m disenchanted with my experience here at Redstate because I tried to write and comment about how I see things and I was basically told by the moderators that I’m trolling. So I wanted to just have my say and if that earns me the boot then so be it, I have no regret. But if given a choice I would rather stay and be part of the discussion. But if movement conservatism is so closed minded that it doesn’t care what living conservatism thinks, then I really fear for our nation, because I don’t know how we will fight back the tide. If we cannot hang together, rest assured we will all hang separately.
and, yeah, guess it’s pretty obvious what I did last night