Conservatives cannot afford to be conservative
by Melvyn L. Fein
Columnist
January 14, 2013 12:18 AM | 827 views | 2 2 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Football fans will know the strategy. It is called a “prevent defense.” When you are leading toward the end of the game, instead of trying to score more points you have your defenders drop back in an effort to make sure that the other team does not score. The trouble is this often backfires and allows them to move ahead.

By now many commentators have suggested this was a major reason Mitt Romney lost the election. He could not believe that the country would vote for a man who was both dishonest and a terrible steward of the economy. Why, after all, would anyone want a nation that was both poor and weak?

But people did vote for Obama — because they did not perceive that they were given a dynamic alternative. Mitt was a technocrat. He was an honest man with demonstrable economic skills. I still believe this is exactly what we needed; nevertheless it was not what the voters thought.

As commentators such as the economist Thomas Sowell and the newly seated Texas Sen. Ted Cruz have counseled, now is not the time to go “moderate.” The electoral problem was not that Republicans failed to resemble Democrats; it was that they were ashamed of being full-blooded Republicans.

Conservatives believe in freedom. Conservatives support a free marketplace. They also favor a smaller government. To these ends, they have rightly defended the Constitution and sought to lower the deficit. These are noble objectives, but they are not inspirational.

Remember how Ronald Reagan called us to greatness? Remember how during his second presidential campaign he told us that it was “morning in America”? These are not conservative themes. They did not look backward, but forward. They offered visions of a better world, not a return to an old one.

Freedom isn’t an outmoded concept. Nor is a market-based economy. These are the keys to unleashing the energies and genius of ordinary people. This, therefore, is what erstwhile “conservatives” need to stress; it is what will give the young and moderate a reason to vote Republican.

What I am about to say will offend many people, but I must say it anyway because I believe it is the truth. During this last election cycle Republicans put too many eggs into the evangelical basket. They expected religious conservatives to come out in huge numbers, but they did not.

This false assumption prompted the party to select candidates, who sounded as if they favored rape, to shape its image. As a result, social issues, rather than the economy or our future, came to the fore and persuaded moderates that Republicans had nothing new to offer.

This must change. Cruz suggests that conservatives pivot and champion an “opportunity” society. Over a decade ago Newt Gingrich came to a similar conclusion. Unfortunately, Bill Clinton, who evidently believed the same, quickly preempted that strategy.

So opportunity is a good starting point. It speaks to the aspirations of constituencies who have been drifting Democratic, such as the Hispanics and young women, and promises them a better future. Moreover, it tells them this future is in their own hands.

But we need more. We need a renewed call to greatness. Obama has been playing “small ball” and this should be used against him. He keeps on picking at small-scale grievances so as to gather a coalition of those who feel as if they are on the outside looking in.

Republicans consequently have an opening to appeal to Americans as Americans. How can ordinary people take pride in a country that is limping a long, barely keeping its head above water? How can they feel good about having an ambassador shot or about Iran acquiring nuclear weapons?

Reagan drew on the best in the American people. He told them they would succeed if they helped themselves. More than this, he assured them that they had the stuff to do so. Have we somehow grown feebler since then?

Melvyn L. Fein, Ph.D., is a professor of Sociology at Kennesaw State University.

Melvyn L. Fein Ph.D., is professor of Sociology at Kennesaw State University.
Comments
(2)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Dar'Rameus Bouchet
|
January 14, 2013
Someone neeeds to get the word out that one of the primary theings that "conservatives" support is basic finance and budgeting- do not spend more than you make, and that everyone is expected to put something in to get something out. That does not mean taking from someone else to give to someone just to give them a fair shot. Earn what you get. You do not hear anyone talking about the basics anymore, just political posturing and always stepping onto the fire any hill with the taboo subjects. Let me keep my money and thrive. With that, the economy will thrive.
30066
|
January 14, 2013
I do not disagree with Dr. Fein. I know him to be a fine sincere gentleman.

However, what I really want to know is why the Jewish Community has stood by the Democrats.

Most Jews:

- do not rely on Government handouts.

- support Israel...

and a larger percent of Jews are in the Medical field and therefore are more affected by Obamacare...

Yet they cling to the Democrat line of empty promises and financial destruction.

And I thought they were smarter than that.

*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides