The Conservative Leadership Project: What Winning Looks Like
Note: In response to our recent open letter to the conservative movement, we continue “The Conservative Leadership Project” here at CR, a series of articles that will first look to answer why we lose, and then come up with a plan for us to win.
When challenged by skeptics that Christianity would be kicked to the curb by more enlightened 20th century audiences because it lacked the answers they were looking for, the great G.K. Chesterton responded with this quip:
“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. Rather, it has been found difficult and rarely tried.”
The same could be said of principled conservatism.
Not since 1988 have the Republicans nominated for a president a candidate who was willing to clearly define his opponent as a Leftist out of the mainstream, while at the same time, define himself as a conservative in the mainstream. Since then, the GOP has nominated small “p” progressives/corporatists, whose only argument with Democrats on the domestic front seems to be which side’s special interests will get our money. It’s no coincidence Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections during that time.
Their position in favor of child dismemberment is indefensible, except the guys representing our side rarely make them defend it. In this case, Paul finally did, and took a wedge issue the Left has used to club our candidates with for years and beat them with their own club instead.
Lacking a standard-bearer willing to use the national platform of a presidential campaign to defend and advance our principles, conservatives have lost considerable policy ground as well. Despite the fact the country agrees with us on numerous issues, very little has been done legislatively to advance a principled and doable conservative agenda. For example, take a look at the life issue. A February Gallup poll found the lowest support ever for killing preborn children on-demand. Yet, earlier this year the Republican-dominated House of Representatives was unable to pass even watered-down pro-life legislation.
Most Republicans fear having to message any divisive issue – in other words, any issue that actually matters. Sometimes it’s because they’re really not with us on those issues, and they fear being exposed. Other times it’s because they’re incapable of turning around even the most ridiculous arguments of our opponents.
Enter Senator Rand Paul.
The Kentucky senator formally announced his presidential candidacy last week, and right away Leftist activists disguised as mainstream media trolls went to work. Paul is a sponsor of “personhood” legislation, which seeks to define a pre-born child as a “person” according to the 5th and 14th Amendments from the moment of conception without exception. Seeing how that “without exception” argument cost Republicans two U.S. Senate seats in Missouri and Indiana in 2012 they should’ve won, the Leftist media trolls thought they’d try the same act on Paul.
They thought wrong.
Paul immediately turned their argument against them, and told them he would answer their question if they first asked Democrat Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz if it’s okay to “kill a 7-pound baby” in the womb. Paul was making a reference to late-term (or “partial birth”) abortion, which is a particularly barbaric technique of killing fully developed children in utero for a blood-soaked industry that already specializes in the macabre.
Pro-killing Democrats have fought for decades to preserve this gruesome practice that only seven nations on earth still permit. Their position in favor of child dismemberment is indefensible, except the guys representing our side rarely make them defend it. In this case, Paul finally did, and took a wedge issue the Left has used to club our candidates with for years and beat them with their own club instead.
Frankly, it was the most effective example of pro-life messaging I’ve ever seen from a presidential candidate. With one line, Paul successfully exercised several of my “10 Commandments of Political Warfare” outlined in my recent book Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again.
Endorsed by a slew of conservative heavy hitters like Mark Levin, with a foreword by David Limbaugh, Rules for Patriots seeks to provide conservatives with a plan for how we can begin to do what we actually believe. This is not an ideological apologetic, but a how-to manual. As in how-to defend and advance conservative principles at a time the country desperately needs them.
The past couple of months, “The Conservative Leadership Project” here at CR has taken an at-times painfully honest look at why we lose. Now we’re going to start looking at how we win. Paul just provided us one such example. There’s more to come.
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