On Cautious “Conservatives”
The word “conservative” is no longer an accurate description of one’s political ideology. Too many fiscally liberal Republicans have self-labeled themselves as “conservatives,” watering the term down to the point of meaninglessness (particularly here in “GOP-controlled” South Carolina).
For the sake of this column, then, we will operationally define a “conservative” politician not as they define themselves – but as elected officials (or candidates for public office) who are neither fiscally liberal Democrats nor fiscally liberal Republicans. In other words politicians who votes in the best interest of taxpayers – consistent with the founding American principles of individual liberty and free market capitalism.
You know, all that “My Country Tis of Thee” stuff …
Of course voting the right way (or pledging to vote the right way) is not enough. In fact it’s not nearly enough. Don’t get us wrong – government at all levels is in desperate need of individuals willing to stand up for their constituents against the crony capitalists, bureaucrats, leftist reporters and entrenched special interests driving this country into a ditch.
But it is not enough to simply “do right,” government at all levels is increasingly in need of individuals willing to call out those who are doing wrong.
Here in South Carolina, there are only a handful of elected officials willing to take principled pro-taxpayer positions. That’s terrible – especially considering the Palmetto State’s reputation as the “most Republican state in the nation.” It’s even more terrible when you consider South Carolina voters chose as their governor a Tea Party leader who vowed she “wouldn’t stop” until she had achieved a “more conservative House” and a “more conservative Senate.”
“Conservative.” There’s that word again …
But what’s worse than the dearth of limited government, pro-liberty elected officials? The fact there is literally no one who consistently takes after those who get elected on those principles – and then betray them.
Sure, there are isolated instances of “Republican-on-Republican (rhetorical) violence” – but these criticisms are almost always confined to primary elections (of which there were virtually none in 2012). Most politicians who aren’t directly involved in a race choose to sit it out, careful not to say anything which could be construed as supporting or opposing any “Republican” candidate.
Consider the upcoming race involving U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham – a.k.a. the poster child for the wholesale ideological surrender of the Republican Party in Washington, D.C. Graham is the most liberal “Republican” in the entire U.S. Congress, yet who among South Carolina’s “conservative” leadership is going to call him out? On anything?
Will “conservative” S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley campaign against him? What about “conservative” U.S. Sen. Tim Scott?
Of course not …
What about U.S. Reps. Jeff Duncan, Trey Gowdy, Mick Mulvaney and Mark Sanford? Or state leaders like S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis or S.C. Sen. Tom Davis?
Will any of these leaders openly campaign against Graham?
Perhaps one or two of them … perhaps.
Obviously it’s not just Graham who deservers to be called out. There’s a whole host of “Republican” politicians at all levels of government who deserve to be pilloried (unless you think big-spending, tax-hiking leaders like U.S. Speaker John Boehner and S.C. Speaker Bobby Harrell have been representing your interests in their legislative leadership roles).
As American poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox once said, “To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men.”
She was right … is right.
There have been innumerable occasions in recent political history when one courageous voice could have inspired other voices … which could have inspired a movement … which could have resulted in really good things being done (or, more likely, really bad things being avoided). Yet lamentably most “conservatives” sit back and watch as leftists like Graham get patted on the back for “reaching across the aisle” and “getting things done” – as if ideological surrender and activist government were inherently noble ends.
So grow some balls, “conservatives.” Don’t just vote the right way. Don’t just say what it is that you believe. Point the finger when another “conservative” leader is growing government, raising taxes, voting against our constitutional rights or otherwise being a hypocrite.
Don’t walk softly and carry a big stick. Scream … and carry a battle axe.
That’s the only way things are ever going to change …