In a recent diary, “A Gathering of Republicans,” Tom Lesser highlighted several Republican positions that he believes marginalize and exclude potential converts to the Republican cause. Unfortunately, his characterizations were mostly inflammatory caricatures, borrowed directly from Democratic talking points. I can’t say whether Mr. Lesser honestly hoped to provoke a meaningful dialogue or if he simply wanted to antagonize the faithful.
Red State, like many political sites, has reasonable and clearly defined posting rules. (There is no expectation of free speech here). Had Mr. Lesser violated those rules, the moderators could have deleted his post or terminated his privileges. Despite clearly annoying several readers, the article complied with the guidelines.
That said, the posting rules also govern the ensuing discussion and those rules should likewise be applied uniformly. Here, the rules received a more flexible interpretation. Several of the comments were pointlessly sarcastic. One commenter referred to the author as a POS. Another labeled his post BS. There were unwarranted personal attacks and suggestions of mental instability. We are perhaps taking this a bit too seriously. Moreover, we’ve lost sight of the Red State mission.
Conservatives, like it or not, are engaged in the persuasion business. These tasteless commentaries are visible to anyone visiting Red State. Many visitors come here, to some degree, curious about or receptive to our message. The diaries should showcase our vision, not expose our childish immaturity.
Ronald Reagan understood persuasion. He won some converts, secured many votes and he made precious few enemies. When he was direct, it was calculated, not reckless and never unkind.
We should get less incensed about opinions. The true enemies of conservatism are not online at Red State. They are closer to power; Republican office-holders and party officials who knowingly barter conservative principles for political advantage.. They borrow conservative rhetoric to win primary elections and discard it in general elections. They abhor conservatism as a governing strategy. They profess to be something they are not.
Ronald Reagan preached conservative values for twenty years prior to winning the presidency. Back in 1951, Eric Hoffer wrote “Where freedom is real, equality is the passion of the masses. Where equality is real, freedom is the passion of a small minority.” Reagan understood this to be true. Nonetheless, he was still able to persuade Americans that even ‘where freedom is real, freedom is still more desirable than equality.’
Today, Barack Obama preaches that equality can only be achieved at the expense of freedom. It is a decidedly pessimistic message. Conservatism is the cure, not the disease. Let’s focus on developing a conservative vision, not on the troll wars.
** If you have not read Senator Cruz post “Restore growth first,” please do so.