Understanding and Overcoming the Headwind Against Conservatism (Part 4)

Long gone are the days of the stump speech delivered from an actual stump, ink-smudged handbills slung around by the town crier on the corner, and outdoor debates in Civic Square amplified only by the reverberation from nearby buildings.  No more.  Today’s political arena may have more to do with NYC’s Madison Avenue than D.C.’s Pennsylvania Avenue.  Campaigning can cynically be viewed as an epic marketing battle.

Over the years, I have collected a long list of ways in which the conservative movement struggles to generate energy against the strong headwind of superficial platitudes blowing out of the liberal/progressive side. 

Please see Part 1 of this series for a longer intro and the first portion of the list.  See Part 2 and Part 3 for the 2nd and 3rd portions of the list.


Here’s the 4th and final portion of my list:

36. It’s easy for liberals to utilize a century of accumulated “how-to” manuals to train new community organizers to propagate their ideology .  It’s harder for conservatives to captivate the electorate with the simple traditional philosophies of individualism, true liberty, and limited government.

37. It’s easy for liberals to claim that tax rate increases will raise more government revenues.  It’s harder for conservatives to explain how the CBO and OMB budget analysts use models that ignore the disincentive effects of higher tax rates and the resultant hindrance to economic growth.

38. It’s easy for liberals to provide welfare subsistence such as food stamps and look the other way when it’s spent on non-essentials.  It’s harder for conservatives to explain that Maslow’s hierarchy advises attention to one’s basic needs first, before seeking self-actualization – particularly appropriate for users of OPM (other people’s money).

39. It’s easy for liberals to express their ideology in terms of “fairness” and “equality of outcomes” via 30-second video bites and 6 word bumper stickers.  It’s harder for conservatives to express their response to such oversimplified assertions — we need 10-15 minutes.

40. It’s easy for liberals to work for government and vote for governors who will govern in a way that enlarges government and feathers the nests of government workers.  It’s harder for conservatives to explain this insidious symbiosis is morally hollow and fiscally unsustainable.

41. It’s easy for liberals to point only at current events to decry “judicial activism” when a recently-passed law is overturned in the courts.  It’s harder for conservatives to explain that judicial review is SUPPOSED to use the 225-year-old Constitution as the yardstick.

42. It’s easy for liberals to promise that insured “choices” such as comprehensive women’s health services are every female’s right.  It’s harder for conservatives to explain why public funding of these elective “choices” is a repugnant violation of our religious freedom.

43. It’s easy for liberals to use their instinctive activism to rally small but concentrated and collective interests to dominate the political arena.  It’s harder for conservatives to rally their large but dispersed and individualistic coalition to combine their voices and their votes, especially in local and state elections.


Conclusion for this 4-part series

When I recently brought up some of these issues as a commenter on a liberal blog, I was characterized by the author/moderator as being “a bit long on self pity.”  I took this to mean he either doesn’t realize liberals have these inherent advantages, or he does know but isn’t the least bit sympathetic about the tilted playing field.

Even a brief perusal of the contents of Saul Alinsky’s 1946 book Reveille for Radicals and his 1971 book Rules for Radicals is enough to convince you that the leaders at the nucleus of the liberal/progressive movement are fully aware of their advantage in the biased media and political arena, and they have every intention of pressing that advantage as long and far as possible.

If you periodically sample the talking points of liberal pundits and callers on radio and TV, you’ve no doubt noticed they have a reflexive rebuttal for every conservative assertion.  If you listen long enough and look for the pattern, you’ll realize that every liberal rebuttal stems from one of three assumptions:

  • If you’re a Conservative, you must be unintelligent;
  • Or if you’re intelligent, then you must be misinformed;
  • Or if you’re intelligent and well informed, then you must be evil.

They then punctuate their rebuttals with some form of the sentiment  “Now shut up and sit down.”  They rarely allow for the possibility that conservatives are well-intentioned.  And they NEVER allow for the possibility that conservatives are correct.

Therefore, we will never win over the deeply entrenched liberals who have a significantly different life vision than ours.  But we can invest time to persuade the “undecided” and “uncommitted” and “independent” folks.  To me conservative ideology leads us down a better road…but even if it’s perceived to be a tie, here’s the ideological tie-breaker:  Which vision — liberal or conservative — is, in fact, affordable??

In this Battle of Ideology, the most confounding irony of all is this:  Conservatives do not naturally want to be arguing and defending their views in the public arena.  Like Clint Eastwood said a month ago, “It is just that the conservative people by the nature of the word itself play closer to the vest.  They do not go around hot dogging it.”  But every day that they keep to themselves and keep quiet, the Progressive Hive grows larger and gets rooted deeper, and conservatives lose a bit more of the individualistic way of life they cherish for themselves and their offspring.

I would like to close this series with a rallying shout to fellow conservatives:  Most of us do not seek politics, but sooner or later politics will seek us — right where we live and worship.  We must deeply tap our core principles, tirelessly explain our vision, and closely work together to fight this battle on ground chosen by us, not our political opponents.

Like Ronald Reagan, we must not concede the field to superficial liberal platitudes.  Like him, we must patiently communicate.

Paradoxically, we must form a union  of  individualists.

I hope this series has in some way helped to clarify the battlefield.  For me, it now serves as a delicious menu from which to choose my next 43 articles.  If you have a favorite you’d like to discuss more, please let me know.

(photo credit)  (photo credit)


About Necessary and Proper

Jeff believes in the Individual's ability to excel when liberty and freedom of choice are protected. Also believes in the Community's ability to take care of the vast majority of its own issues and needs when the federal government leaves the Community's resources and sphere of control alone. State and local choice produce better results than centralized federal control. https://necessaryandpropergovt.wordpress.com/
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11 Responses to Understanding and Overcoming the Headwind Against Conservatism (Part 4)

  1. libertyandbagels says:

    “They rarely allow for the possibility that conservatives are well-intentioned. And they NEVER allow for the possibility that conservatives are correct.”

    Sounds long on self-pity based around the myth of a liberal media.
    It’s easy for conservatives to claim the media is liberal. It’s difficult for them to back that up given the across the board media subservience to the Bush administration in the lead-up to the Iraq war and the complete lack of analysis when it comes to middle class decimating free trade agreements. Even bringing up the notion of fairness gets shouted down as class warfare. Fox News is the most popular news TV station in the US.

    I’m sorry if this sounds adversarial because I like your writing, I just think you’re wrong. I’m sure most people would slur me with the label of being a liberal but I see myself as mostly libertarian, which is a kind of hybrid that takes good ideas from the right (limited government) and good ideas from the left (peace, civil liberties). So I think I’m the independent you’re looking to reach out to.

    That said I wonder if you think I’m completely off base with my first observation of the American political spectrum since Reagan: Both R’s and D’s have shifted to the right. The Individual Mandate or ACA or Obamacare was implemented by Mitt Romney (in an admittedly left leaning state) and was pushed as a Republican plan in the late 80’s. So how is it that the liberal progressive borderline communist Obama is pushing and signing Republican ideas from the 80’s? Because both R’s and D’s have moved to the right. Paul Volker, a Reagan appointed Fed Chairman, is too liberal to be in the Obama administration because he had the audacity to propose a rule banning large financial institutions to gamble with people’s savings. There are other examples but, as someone who is certainly sympathetic to the right, I don’t see any kind of shift to the left except maybe on gay marriage. The reason my conservative side is fine with issues like gay marriage is because I don’t think the government has a role to incentivize or create disincentives for behaviors it likes or doesn’t like.

    Also, one reason I don’t turn on MSNBC or Fox News anymore (other than for morbid enjoyment) is because I don’t care what partisan hacks have to say. I am curious as to who is an intelligent conservative commentator currently working. Personally, I am OK with David Brooks and quite like Niall Ferguson. Other than that I don’t really know many. I can name 10 on the left who I think are doing good work.


    • bullright says:

      Liberal media — and I thought it was self-evident. Even many of the liberal progressives admit it. (they certainly know it) Yea the pol-spectrum has shifted to the right. But that says little about the media and its polarity.


    • bullright says:

      ” I’m sure most people would slur me with the label of being a liberal but I see myself as mostly libertarian, which is a kind of hybrid that takes good ideas from the right (limited government) and good ideas from the left (peace, civil liberties). So I think I’m the independent …” — [Consider it a slur, as you wish]
      2*”Other than that I don’t really know many. I can name 10 on the left who I think are doing good work.”

      I remember when the Libertarian Party and label came about. Let me simplify: it was a lot more Barry Goldwater than it ever was Howard Dean, or Saul Alinsky. You can call yourself whatever you want. One can say he/she is a conservative progressive too, though it doesn’t mean much to anyone else. I could say I’m for limited government, but fully support all the big government schemes and agenda. And then I could say I’m fully consistent in my stand. It wouldn’t mean much to anyone. For what its worth, its more sophistry.(2) I think the last part just validated your bias.


    • L&B,

      Please read this speech from 8 days ago by Pat Caddell, a Democrat pollster and member of many Democrat candidates’ campaign staffs, including Joe Biden, Jerry Brown, Jimmie Carter, and many others. He is seriously frightened at how the media bias towards Democrats is threatening our very democracy. After reading it, I would be astonished if you could come back and still claim the liberal media is a myth. I just don’t understand where you’re coming from. Your whole “not a dime’s worth of difference” analysis of D’s and R’s proves that your viewpoint is far from mainstream.

      You cite the media’s general agreement with GWBush on Iraq — along with a majority of the Democrats at the time, I might add — as proof that the media is not biased towards liberalism. I think your libertarian aversion to ANY exertion of U.S. power around the world is a relevant factor in the bias you bring to this discussion.

      Regarding your other two points about media bias (“middle class decimating free trade agreements” and “bringing up the notion of fairness gets shouted down as class warfare”), I can’t comment because I have no idea what your brief phrases are specifically talking about. If you would slow down and take the time to bring research and references to your opinions, it would help a great deal. Please don’t just rant and heckle.

      Saying that Fox News is the most popular news TV station in the U.S. means nothing. First, it’s not a TV station, it’s a cable news network. There are only two other cable news networks for Fox to compete against (CNN and MSNBC) and they’re pathetic, so THAT’S why Fox is #1 on cable. But the other news organizations that your careful sentence ignored are the liberal-biased ABC, NBC, and CBS. You excluded them because they’re not “news stations”, but their evening news broadcast audiences, when combined, are almost 10 times larger than Fox News’s evening news audience. That’s why I conclude your statement means nothing. But this is an example where elaborating a bit more, as I have done, turns a superficial argument into a substantial one, if you’d add the extra phrases to be more complete.

      I don’t agree that libertarians are independents that I try to reach out to. If they’re practical, they’re registered Republicans and they work within the party to realize most of what they desire — far more than they get from the Democrats, in my opinion. If they’re impractical, then they’re so “pure” in their narrow brand of ideology that they mostly just criticize all the other political parties. Impractical libertarians cannot be won over, because as a matter of pure pride they won’t let themselves be won over.

      – Jeff


      • libertyandbagels says:

        That video that was linked was interesting but I certainly don’t think he makes a good case for ‘liberal’ bias in media. The key line that sums it up to me is when he is speaking about apparent corruption in the stimulus:
        “Of course Republicans don’t raise it because in Washington, they simply want to do it when they get back in power. And, of course, the press doesn’t because they basically have taken themselves out of doing their job.”

        They aren’t liberal, they’re just not doing their job. The stuff Caddell alleges of the Obama administration definitely happened in the Bush administration.
        On leaks: Cheney leaked information to the NYT and went on Meet the Press saying we need to go to war in Iraq because, look, even the liberal NYT is behind us!
        That isn’t the press being liberal, it’s the press not doing its job.

        On Libya, yeah Obama went to war without Congress declaring war, the same way Reagan, HW, Clinton and GW did. Grenada, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, Iraq again, Serbia, Etc. Basically every president after FDR is guilty of that one. I’m all for the use of force, just not the illegal use of force, like the war in Iraq was. I understand that I’m not going to convert anyone but if congress doesn’t declare war then the president can’t control the military. Violates the Constitution and the War Powers Act.

        Also, bonus on Iraq: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2003-09-06-poll-iraq_x.htm
        I thought it was closer to 50 but roughly 50% of Americans thought Saddam was behind 9/11 in the leadup to Iraq. That isn’t liberal media bias, that’s the media not doing its job.

        On free trade: The reason the Apple jobs aren’t coming back (https://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/business/apple-america-and-a-squeezed-middle-class.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) is because of free trade agreements (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Agreement_on_Tariffs_and_Trade)
        If it isn’t free trade agreements, bi-partisan corruption at its worst that republicans pushed and Clinton signed, maybe you have a better reason for this graph: https://amanwithaphd.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/no-matter-how-you-examine-it-the-middle-class-has-gotten-screwed-since-the-late-70s/

        That graph shows that median household incomes have been stagnating since the 1980s, even after women entered the workforce. That’s because of Reaganomics and Free Trade. The media isn’t reporting this because it isn’t beholden to the poor and working class of the US and because it isn’t doing its job. You think GE AKA MSNBC want to talk about the negative effects of globalization? If they were (in my opinion) liberal, they would! Both candidates have solutions for this, either we should reduce strangling EPA regulations and lower taxes or we should increase stimulus spending or public spending in general. Both of those solutions are a joke and neither of them explain why median income isn’t going up.

        I guess the reason I pointed out Fox News’ popularity is because I doubt anyone would seriously identify them as part of the liberal media. So the most watched news on TV is more or less GOP talking points 24/7. Again, I’m not defending ABC, NBC, and the others you listed.

        Here’s what a real liberal or fairer media would look like. It would be criticizing Obama for drone strikes, for the war in Afghanistan which is utterly hopeless, would be blasting his subservience to wall street and would be pointing out the corruption in the current Super PAC era of US politics. It would be asking questions like “is it legal for the president to wage undeclared wars in secret?” “Why wasn’t anyone even investigated about torture and warrantless wiretapping?” “Why are the top 1% doing so well and everyone else doing so poorly?” “Why can multinational corporations donate millions of dollars to campaigns in secret?” “Is it legal for the president to kill American citizens without due process?”

        Sorry if I’m ranting and heckling. I don’t mean to.


        • bullright says:

          Valerie Plame. Dan Rather gave us the phony surprise before the election. (Not to mention Waxman’s inquisitions, or Durbin comparing Bush to Hitler or Reid saying the war is lost – which drummed up substantial coverage) There is no equal equivocation. They didn’t even want to cover Fast and Furious. What did media do to tea parties – or anything threatening this campaigner in chief? And under Bush the surrounding questions about 911 and the investigation, or those very questions and coverage about Iraq. And he used the ‘war powers ‘ and tons of resolutions. Including the one to use force backed by even by Hillary and Rockefeller. I’m not supporting WPA, but Congress grafted it on. It isn’t even close.


  2. davidwithastick says:

    If you’re a Conservative, you must be unintelligent;
    Or if you’re intelligent, then you must be misinformed;
    Or if you’re intelligent and well informed, then you must be evil.

    …And if you’re not evil, you’re just old.

    McCain was old. Right now, Romney is painted as “evil.” The Left has tried to paint Ryan as evil, but he’s too well respected and liked for that to work. So he’s difficult for the Left to deal with, since he’s clearly the most intelligent, informed, young and vibrant nice guy in the room as soon as he enters. My sense now is that there’s a new category of dismissal: Irrelevant. The Left doesn’t touch him anymore as if he doesn’t matter.


    • I agree with your additions of old and irrelevant, the latter being similar to Steph’s Sept 27th comment to Part3 where she said:

      “It’s easy for liberals to shrug their shoulders and dismiss contradictory arguments apathetically. It’s harder for conservatives to push through the intimidation and press them for a real, solid, documented answer. Is it just me or are liberals AMAZING at the ‘Yeah, I don’t see the point of what you are saying’ rebuttal. Then the conservative slinks down into a chair and shuts up.”

      – Jeff


  3. bullright says:

    Good article. And great closing thought, well said.


  4. Steph Nelson says:

    Excellent conclusion and rallying call! Your assessment that we do not seek politics but politics finds us is right on the money. At some point we must stand up and find our voice if we care about our country and our freedom.


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