We are at a turning point as conservatives. And quite frankly, we are a movement saved by the tea party-a plain spoken, salt of the earth movement that refuses to get wrapped around the axle by the Republican Party and the conservative establishment inside the Beltway. Even the word “conservative” itself was co-opted by the Bush Administration and elements of the Republican Party so much so that no one knew what meant until the reawakening that began April 15, 2009.
I, for one, believe “conservative” still means something. I also believe “conservatism” is a comprehensive ideology.
Which brings me to GOProud and the dust up around CPAC. Are they, as they claim, a conservative group that is fiscally conservative and socially liberal? I would suggest they are not conservative at all (more on that below), just as my brother Ned challenged the bone fides of pro-lifers who continue to grow the size and scope of government.
But let’s start with the obvious. We all know where GOProud is on the social issues. They are chaired by a pro-choice lesbian who is a former NOW chapter president and their stated goals are to win the same sex marriage battles in individual states.
But what of their claim to be fiscal conservatives? Let’s start with domestic partnerships. A social issue, you say? Ever wonder what the price tag for the American taxpayer would be on domestic partnerships? For just federal employees, both current and retired, to have domestic partners, the cost is $600M over the next ten years for the American taxpayer. In case anyone missed the forest for the trees, no fiscal conservative seeks to grow the size and scope of government.
Who did GOProud endorse this past fall? Mark Kirk, a man with perinial mid-50s rankings by fiscal groups,received their endorsement. Why? Because he was “right” on gay issues. Mary Bono received their endorsement as well and no one would call her a fiscal champion-she’s #232 in the Club for Growth’s Power Rankings for the House. But again, she supports same sex marriage. Same was true with Charles Djou, who ended up losing on November 2nd. Oddly enough, I know they suggested people vote for Ron Johnson in Wisconsin and Tom Coburn in Oklahoma, but not one dollar was spent on their behalf by GOProud (in looking through GOProud’s financial reports, it appears they spent $11k trying to defeat Barbara Boxer, $10k trying to beat Barney Frank, almost $2k to help Richard Hanna in NY and $13k to help Charles Djou. That’s it. Talk about a tempest in a tea pot.).
Where is GOProud on other issues that are central to conservatism? Earmarks? Silence, even in their much ballyhooed letter to Mitch McConnell and John Boehner after November 2nd. On unions? Silent at a time when states are collapsing under the financial burden of unions and their pensions. START? Crickets. Apparently, GOProud is unfamiliar with any of the three legs of conservatism, simply using elements of it as window dressing while aggressively pushing their homosexual agenda.
So what is conservatism? Is it a quantified body of doctrine? A comprehensive worldview that presents a vision for what the world should look like?
I say all of the above. And, just as importantly, I believe words still mean something. They have to. When we lose the definition of words, we lose a fundamental element of society as a whole. Which is why I argue that “conservative” means something and conservatism is an ideology that one adheres to to be called a conservative. I respect GOProud’s right to state what they believe in. It’s not conservatism, though.
Ronald Reagan often spoke of the three legs of conservatism-social, fiscal, national security. I think one can emphasize different elements of conservatism (I lead with fiscal issues or I lead with social issues), but unless you believe in all elements of it, you are not a conservative. Period. They all intertwine. If you are missing one part, you are missing the whole.