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On the beach your ship is burning, conservatives. You may not realize it. Certainly, many of you did not set fire to your ships. But there on the beach, lighting up both day and night, the ship you sail within the conservative movement is burning on the sand.
Many conservatives resent the fights they think others, myself included, have dragged them into. They grumble in private about the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Club for Growth, RedState, the Madison Project, and others. They blame Jim DeMint and the Heritage Foundation for Heritage Action for America. They grouse about Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin.
Some conservatives wanted to sit on the sidelines and the rest of us have dragged them into the fight and set fire to their ships so they have no choice but to stand and fight.
Your ships are burning conservatives whether you, Billy Joel, or someone else started the fire.
The fights in which conservative now engage against their own Republican Party must be won. The party is dismissive of conservatives already. We all know that. There are some who grew used to playing Bob Michel and fighting for the scraps that fall from the congressional table. They try to be good team players. But these conservatives are the gimps of the GOP — trotted out to wreck carnage as needed, but otherwise left in their cage.
Still other conservatives have had no desire to get their hands dirty and they are angry at those of us who have dared to fight. But these conservatives — their ships are burning now too.
If conservatives do not win electoral fights against Republican incumbents in 2014, the Republicans will finally conclude the right has become a paper tiger. We are all CPAC and bluster and nothing more. The Republicans will conclude we need not have a seat at the table because we can bring nothing to the table.
Some conservatives may think they will get a reprieve, but both the media spin and the Republican leadership spin is that they are at war with us, whether you have gone to war with them or not. So if this war is not won against them in these coming primaries, you — whether you wanted to fight or not — will be viewed as a paper tiger no longer worth dealing with.
You may have not set your own ship of the conservative movement on the beach or even set it ablaze. But there it now rests in flames. You will either fight and win or be of no use to anyone anymore.
This is why Ted Cruz and Mike Lee should embrace Matt Bevin. Their lot, and ours within the movement, only worsens if Mitch McConnell is re-elected. We become a paper tiger with his re-election. Cruz, Lee, The Club for Growth, and others will (and are) get blamed for Bevin despite having clean hands in his regard. Their lot in life worsens if McConnell remains.
So does that of the conservative movement that greeted McConnell cooly at CPAC, cheering only for his gun. You may think you will get a reprieve by being his friend. You will not. You will lose your seat at the table, suffering only for the scraps that might be thrown your way so you too do not bite back.
Conservatives, your ships are burning. Stand and fight and win or lose all clout. The time for fooling yourself that this too shall pass is itself passing. Actual conservatives and conservative groups will, whether they think so or not, suffer in prestige because of what is happening — regardless of whether they participated or are to blame — so they might now join the fight against the Republican leadership. There is no turning back.
Your ship is on fire, burning on the beach. We have made it so now you must care or no longer be cared for.