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Conservatives sabotaging conservatism

I took a few days off after our primary this past Tuesday to digest the results.  Two very conservative measures were voted down in what’s supposed to be one of the most conservative states in the union.  One measure provided an avenue for people to unshackle themselves from the bonds of property taxes while the other measure reinforced religious freedom on a state level.  Both measures had everything to do with conservatism; liberty and smaller government in our lives and both failed to pass by overwhelming margins.  I wasn’t surprised that both measures were voted down.  I saw it coming with all the money being poured into the anti measure campaign from largely progressive left groups.  The most disturbing part of all was that there were a large number of influential Republicans to include the governor who sided with these progressive groups in making sure both measures failed to pass.

Both groups worked together and successfully orchestrated a campaign of misinformation and outright lies scaring the voters into believing that all would be lost if they voted to support both measures.  Convincing them that property taxes were a good thing and the government being able to override their religious freedoms in regards to healthcare issues were ok.  The Republicans for their part sold a brand a conservatism that has very little to do with true conservatism.  They painted an image of those who supported such ideas as extreme; conservatives eating conservatives.  We didn’t need the left’s influence and money to sway the voter; there were plenty of phony conservatives who gladly carried the water for them.   But the real problem I see is the Republican establishment has managed to create this narrative that if you’re for liberty, if you’re for reestablishing the constitution as the law of the land, if you talk about the founders and unalienable rights beyond token talking points you are somehow extreme.

You are somehow extreme if you believe in limited government and less regulation.  You’re extreme if you believe in the free markets.  You’re extreme if you want to reform or eliminate unconstitutional entitlement programs.  You’re extreme if you want to end the FED and reestablish the gold standard.  You’re extreme if you want sound monetary policies.  You’re extreme if you go against the current climate in Washington D.C.  No matter what liberty loving position you take, you’re extreme and should be shunned in this brave new world where political mediocrity is the norm.  And this is exactly the mindset I discovered in many people when I was talking to them about both measures on the North Dakota ballot.

They felt that completely eliminating property taxes was an extreme position to take.  One person even said that measure two was being promoted by a bunch of right wing nut jobs.   They felt that voting for a measure that reinforced the rights of religious freedom on a state level was far too extreme.  I heard statements like, “Why do we even need additional measures at the state level when it’s already a right protected by the constitution?”  My answer was swift and simple, “because the constitution pertains to the things the federal government cannot do to you; this is at the state level.”  It didn’t matter.  The extremist picture was already painted by the establishment Republicans they trusted.  Even when I used words like leftist or progressive one person told me I sounded like one of those right wing extremists.  They said they instantly tuned me out when I used those “flag” words.  Even my own wife said it’s a bit of a turn off when she hears me use words like socialist or communist.

So apparently the new conservative narrative is that anyone who believes in liberty, free markets, limited government and reestablishing the constitution is far too extreme to be conservative.  They belong on the fringe edges of political ideology.  Their views should be viewed as dangerous to the current establishment and they should be discredited at every opportunity.  This is the new reality true conservatives live in; conservatives sabotaging conservatism.  It’s a problem that runs deeper than identifying someone as a RINO or being part of the Republican establishment.  It’s poisoning the waters of true conservatism and shifting the conversation to left.  It’s manipulating conservative voters to vote against conservative ideas by labeling the ideas as extreme.  At least we see it coming from the left.  We know the left wants big government and believes in big government solutions.  Those on the right embracing the same ideals are much more dangerous for conservatism because many are influential conservatives who are trusted by their conservative constituents.

Our toughest opposition to conservatism can be found with our own conservative leaders.  I know many true conservatives already know this.  The Tea Party movement is doing their part in trying to clean out some of these big government conservatives from the conservative ranks; but there is much work to do.  North Dakota’s ballot initiatives illustrate an example of conservatives not acting in a very conservative manner.  This needs to change and it starts at the grassroots level.  This means talking and listening to friends and neighbors about issues that impact them.  Steer away from the “flag” words that sound too political or to extreme.  The establishment has already prepped the battlefield by making it appear that our ideas about liberty and freedom are extreme, so we need to adjust our tactics.  We need to take a common sense approach when talking about our national debt and out of control spending.  We need to ask them if they manage their family budgets the same way the government is managing its budget.  We need to show them that embracing liberty is not only good from them and their children but how it’s good for America.  We need to not be afraid to talk about the serious problems we face.  I believe Americas are ready to address them.  It’s the politicians who are not.  These are a few ways we can adjust our tactics.  I have found that they do work.  The less political you sound, the more they will tune into what you are trying to say.  And that in my opinion is a recipe for success.  That’s how you win over the hearts and minds of conservatives and diminish the hold the establishment has on the movement.  Let me know what you think.

Liberty forever, freedom for all!


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  • Steve Dennis June 16, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    I was saddened to see how soundly these measures were defeated and have been awaiting you take on what happened. It isn’t surprising the property tax bill was defeated but I didn’t think it would be by such a large margin.
    In the end the establishment politicians on both sides of the aisle are actually big government people who only oppose big government when the other side is in charge of it. The Tea Party realizes this and we are in the process of weeding these people out but it is going to take time. Hopefully there is still enough time left to turn this around.
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    • John Carey June 17, 2012 at 8:00 AM

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting on this Steve. I know it can be a sensitive topic with many conservatives. It will indeed take time to turn things around, I just hope we have enough. I have always believed that establishment types were more dangerous to the conservative movement than the left. With the left you see it coming and when matched up against the left’s ideas of utopia conservatism wins again and again. However with these snake in grass phony conservatives, many don’t see it coming. They place their trust in a person based on whether or not they have an “R” after their name. This is the mindset we need to change. The Tea Party groups are out front leading the way on this, but I do believe there also needs to be a grassroots effort from everyday true conservatives to expose these fakes.
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      • Jim at Conservatives on Fire June 17, 2012 at 8:14 AM

        I agree with you, John. The establishment Repubicans are the greater danger to the conservative movement. This is why many libertarians refuse to vote for Romney. Conservatives need to support and work with the Tea Parties in their areas. We must reform the Republican Party from the ground up. It will be a long struggle.
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        • John Carey June 17, 2012 at 2:06 PM

          It will be a long struggle. The only reason I’m going to vote for Romney is because it will buy us some time to get the party back in order. It will take at least four to five elections to weed some of these establishment types out. However this needs to happen on the state level also.
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  • LD Jackson June 17, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    It’s sad to see how many politicians claim to be conservative, yet fail to see the importance of lessening government influence in our lives. Property taxes are a good example. Here in Oklahoma, every improvement you make to your property can be taxed. And they do have people who come around to check. That happened to my Dad and is one reason why he despises taxes so much.

    It’s even sadder to see how people who stand up for smaller government and more personal liberty are being portrayed as extreme, right-wing nut jobs. We have our work cut out for us.
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    • John Carey June 17, 2012 at 2:12 PM

      That’s the saddest part of it all Larry. But this is how the establishment has painted to the picture for fellow conservatives. They almost want you to feel guilty about promoting limited government and liberty. Property taxes are bad no matter how you frame them. When the government can seize your property without just compensation for not paying taxes…there’s something inherently wrong with that.
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  • Silverfiddle June 17, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    Money is the mother’s milk of the political class. Try to take it away and partisanship dissolves and they close ranks.

    The main criticism I saw of the property tax issue was that their was no clear plan on how to replace the money other than an nebulous statement that the state government would replace it.

    I’m an outsider, so I don’t know what really happened, but is it possible it wasn’t planned out and explained well?
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    • John Carey June 17, 2012 at 2:37 PM

      The state has a $5 billion dollar surplus. Lost revenues from property tax elimination would have been about $800 million annually. An independent policy study by Suffolk University examined North Dakota eliminating property taxes and identified $460 million in wasteful spending. This waste could be recovered leaving the total revenue loss at $340 million.

      Now we’re looking at making up for a loss revenue of $340 million. This study reveals that the elimination of property taxes across the board would create a more attractive business environment; one that has the potential to create over 13,000 private sector jobs in the first year. This not only creates more taxpayers for the state to tax increasing state revenues but it puts money back into the pockets of the taxpayer.
      What ever shortfalls we face after this can be made up with a slightly higher sales tax combined with a modest increase in income tax. In the end the taxpayer still has much more money in their pocket and with no government lien against their property. And you’re right those who knew this couldn’t sell it because they couldn’t figure about the best way to explain.
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  • Teresa June 17, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    The ones who should be called the extremists, and legitimately so, are the progressives who call for higher taxation, increasing the number of taxes, excessive regulations – job killing regulations, and those who trample on our individual freedoms and are attacking our rights afforded to us by our Creator via the Constitution. I am disappointed that so many so-called conservatives fell for the scare tactics of the progressives. Why does fear trump truth or/and liberty?

  • bunkerville June 17, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    When the poll came out as to whether big gulps should be banned at the movies, and perhaps popcorn, and the vote total difference was less than double digits, I think it said more about the state of affairs than anything else/ The nanny state is indeed here..
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    • John Carey June 17, 2012 at 2:41 PM

      I know, how sad is that Bunker. This is how much the people have been conditioned to accept this nanny state way of life. How ever will when survive when the dollar collapses and our economy tanks…I know how we’ll survive the same entity that created the problem (government) will be there to save the day.
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  • TNcracker June 23, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    When I heard about this property tax issue I was shocked! Remember when H.W. Bush reneged on the “no new taxes” pledge? Remember when Mondale promised to raise taxes and was promptly skunked by Reagan? Taxes no longer a dirty word? Mind-boggling. I despise the phony “conservative” GOP establishment! Sen. Lamar Alexander of TN is a prime example. These people must be defeated.
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