Conservatism Is Very Much Alive

AJ Delgado had a piece in Mediaite last weekend asking whether conservatism was dead or not. She cites three major policy “defeats” as she sees them for conservatism this month.

1) Immigration reform is all but a foregone conclusion.

2) The gay marriage debate is essentially over.

3) The plan to defund ObamaCare — conservatives’ last stand after the Supreme Court failed to throw out the Act — is over

I think Miss Delgado misses a lot in construing all of these as catastrophic defeats for conservatives. A look at each issue on its own shows that it is not as catastrophic as it first appears.

Firstly, I wouldn’t put my money on comprehensive immigration reform becoming law. After Rand Paul outlined his position on the issue last week, he has been very careful to walk back certain aspects of it. Plus, the GOP House has shown exactly no interest in this issue. Finally, this is an issue that divides Democrats as well. Blue collar unions, African Americans, and many environmentalists want to kill immigration reform as well for their own reasons.

As for gay marriage, this is probably her strongest argument. Yes the gay marriage is over. It will become the law of the land in every state in the country within 20 years, if that. What conservatives need to is rebrand on this issue. What conservatives need to fight for on this issue is to make sure adequate religious liberty and conscience protections are in place for churches, businesses, adoption agencies and others opposed to gay marriage.

As for the fight against ObamaCare, it is far from over. Why is the defeat of the Cruz amendment worse than the defeats of the various other GOP attempts to defund and repeal ObamaCare that have occurred over the past 3 years? The American people still hate it three years later and many states are still refusing to expand Medicaid and establish exchanges. Finally, the Senate just voted overwhelmingly to repeal ObamaCare’s medical device tax. While full repeal is off the cards until 2017 at the earliest, what will continue to happen is the steady chipping away of it over the next few years. Ultimately, what will bring about the demise of ObamaCare is its ever increasing costs.

Yes this is a dark time for the Republican Party and the conservative movement, but it is certainly not dead. Conservatism is actually just going through a change like it periodically does. The conservatism of 2013 is different than the conservatism of 1973. Different times and different issues require a different approach.

The appropriate analogy is not death, funerals, or even a birth announcement. The more appropriate analogy is the remodeling of an old house. We need to get rid of this shag carpeting, the popcorn ceilings, replace the fixtures, update the kitchens, and give it a new coat of paint. We probably also need to repair the cracked foundation and repair some of the wood the termites ate on. Finally, we may have to demolish that old shed in the backyard and we definitely have to put in some new landscaping to give the house some curb appeal. But overall, this old girl still has some good bones and will look great when we get done with her.

However, all remodeling jobs are messy but that’s okay because we’ll clean up the mess. Also, remodeling can be a long, difficult process but the results are worth it.

Conservatism is far from dead, but it is in dire need of a remodeling. Hopefully the resurgence of libertarianism, which Ronald Reagan once called “the very heart and soul of conservatism” can provide a large chunk of the design we were missing in this old house.

I, for one, can’t wait to see this old house when it’s done.

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