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!