After RNC Chairman Reince Priebus unveiled the Republican Party’s Growth and Opportunity Project last month, conservatives were hopeful this marked a fundamental change in the direction of the party. The 100-page document’s emphasis on engaging the grassroots and broadening party appeal seemed to indicate GOP leaders were looking to make amends with their base. Less than a month later however, the RNC renounced these claims and once again revealed the greatest hindrance to the GOP’s success: the party itself.
Many Republicans were aghast to witness the blatant political theater that took place last year during the Republican National Convention. Not only were controversial rules changes ushered in by Romney supporters and the establishment but video was released shortly thereafter revealing that the votes were rigged.
As an attempt to quell the growing animosity among grassroots conservatives, the RNC launched the Growth and Opportunity Project and offered to further discuss the rules changes at the RNC’s Spring Meeting.
Initially, it was believed the RNC was sincere in their efforts to overturn the recent powergrabs that rendered delegates nothing more than pawns being used in a chess match that had long been decided without them. As FreedomWorks New Media Director Kristina Ribali noted however, this was hardly the case:
Mitt Romney has lost. In a purely academic fashion, I can’t help but think about what the Republican Party will get out of last night’s results. After all, there is bound to be some kind of “after action” examination of the Romney campaign, at least by pundits.
Much of the results of those examinations will be that Romney wasn’t “conservative enough.” They figure that the problem wasn’t that he was a horrible candidate, but that he wasn’t far enough to the right.
This ignores the fact that more and more people are supporting issues like gay marriage and ending the War on Drugs. This isn’t indicative of an evangelical conservative stance as many Republicans tend to think most Americans really have. Instead, it seems to indicate a more libertarian stance on social issues. Will the conservative pundits understand that? It’s doubtful, but we will see.
Economics are another issue that played a major role in the election. It’s also one that some conservatives think they should modify their position on if they want to win in 2016. Romney talked a sort-of free market game, and it looks like it cost him because free markets scare a lot of people. Now, he wasn’t as free market as he liked to think he was, but what he put out seemed to scare enough voters in battle ground states that those people opted not to vote for him.
Personally, I can’t help but believe that foreign policy cost him. Obama’s supporters weren’t likely to change their vote on that issue apparently, but the undecided voters may have swung his way had there been more difference than “drone strikes and kill ‘em all” that we’ve seen for the last four years.
Mayor Mia Love of Saratoga Springs, Utah is running for Congress in her state’s newly created 4th District. A graduate of the University of Hartford with a degree in fine arts, Mayor Love also spent two terms in city council.
As a staunch defender of the Constitution and supporter of limited government, Mayor Love’s principled message was heard throughout the country during her speech to the Republican Convention in Tampa, FL.
Matt Naugle: How did you become a conservative?
Mia Love: Our country was founded on the conservative principles of fiscal discipline and small government. I watched as my parents achieved the American dream through the power of those founding principles. I observed as these conservative practices played out in the lives of my parents and came to believe in them and to trust them.
These beliefs and conservative principles were reaffirmed as I married an incredibly self-sufficient, hard-working husband who took responsibility for himself and his family. I have continued to believe in those conservative principles and believe that they are what can bring us back to a strong America.
MN: Your parents were Haitian immigrants. What did you learn from your parents?
Suhail Khan served as a senior political appointee with the Bush administration. He served in the White House Office of Public Liaison assisting in the President’s outreach to various faith communities. Khan also served as Assistant to the Secretary for Policy under U.S. Secretary Mary Peters at the U.S. Department of Transportation. He now works at Microsoft as their Director of External Affairs.
Khan also serves on the boards of the American Conservative Union and the Indian American Republican Council.
As a conservative operative, Khan’s behind-the-scenes work to promote free-market principles and encourage people of all faiths to become politically active has been beneficial to the liberty movement. You can follow him on Twitter @Suhail_A_Khan.
As a long-time leader in the conservative movement, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform become famous in recent years for his Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
The Pledge, which was rolled out in 1986 with the endorsement of President Ronald Reagan, requires office holders to oppose increases in the marginal income tax rates (personal & business) and to vote against any net reduction or elimination of deductions unless the changes are matched, dollar for dollar, by further reducing tax rates.
With signers in every state, more than 1,100 state officeholders, from state representative to governor, have signed the Pledge. Liberals and wayward Republicans blame it (and Mr. Norquist personally) for deadlock in Congressional budget debates.
Mr. Norquist is also involved in many center-right organizations, such as the National Rifle Association, the American Conservative Union, ParentalRights.org, and GOProud. He is also a Contributing Editor of The American Spectator.
Recently, Mr. Norquist co-wrote a book with Professor John Lott, Debacle: Obama’s War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future. It is a brilliant take down of President Obama’s radical policies, and you should buy multiple copies today.
With a dry sense of humor, Mr. Norquist tweets @GroverNorquist.
Michelle Fields was born in Los Angeles and received her degree in Political Science from Pepperdine University in 2011. She contributed video work for Reason TV and joined the Daily Caller in mid 2011. The Daily Caller, a 24-hour conservative news and commentary website funded by Foster Friess, was founded by Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel.
In between breaking stories at the Daily Caller and kicking liberal butt on Fox News, she tweets @MichelleFields.
Matt Naugle: How did you become a libertarian?
Michelle Fields: My older brother, Michael, is a libertarian and introduced me to Ayn Rand and Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State & Utopia.”
MN: You became a viral internet celebrity clashing with Matt Damon over tenured teachers. Did his harsh reaction surprise you?
MF: It did surprise me. I thought that I had asked a fair question. I understand where he was coming from, there are a lot of teachers out there who joined the profession out of a love for teaching. However, I don’t think that all teachers are impervious to economic incentives
MN: You have also recorded educational videos for the Center for Freedom and Prosperity. In your experience, do most people have a firm grasp of economics?
I believe in free markets, lower taxes, a strong national defense, generally oppose abortion, free trade, strongly support the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, Federalism, and a much smaller government than what we have. According to the left-right political spectrum, I am probably what you call a conservative. However, that would not be an accurate description of my political beliefs, and here’s why.
I have nothing but the greatest respect and admiration for my conservative friends. My political background is almost exclusively in the Republican Party and I still, generally, vote for Republican candidates in most races. I grew up listening to Rush Limbaugh and discussing politics with my staunchly conservative Republican family. My political roots are solidly in the conservative movement, but I’m not a conservative anymore. The reason why is that even though I did learn the language of liberty as a conservative, advancing it has become my main political goal.
American conservatism is something of a contradiction. To simplify, it seeks to preserve the liberties handed down by our Founding Fathers and to preserve traditional Judeo-Christian values and norms. It does not take a rocket scientist to see how this is contradictory. With two seemingly opposite goals, one of the two has to be sacrificed. For example, in order to promote traditional families, many social conservatives support special tax incentives for children. However, this creates a distortion in the tax code that unfairly penalizes childless couples and it can be a perverse incentive to reward illegitimacy. The concept of equality under the law is sacrificed in an attempt of social engineering that will likely backfire, like all social engineering does.
As we near the South Carolina primaries, the media is abuzz with the drama unfolding among the Republican candidates for president, and the harsh attacks being leveled by each faction. Some see this as detrimental to the eventual Republican nominee, but I tend to disagree. In 2008, when Mitt Romney graciously stepped down and conceded to John McCain, it allowed the Republican Party to coalesce around “their man”, who promptly went on to get an Electoral College tail-whipping, losing 365-173 to a smooth-talking political neophyte with no record to speak of, but a catchy, feel-good slogan and the media on his side.
This year, make no mistake, the gloves are coming off, and the Republicans had better have a battle-tested candidate that is ready to go up against Obama. The “Hope and Change” campaign is no more, and Obama knows it. He now has a record that can be used against him, so rest assured, the absolute last thing he will focus on is that record. He’s accumulated more debt than every other president combined, signed off on a nearly trillion dollar stimulus bill that actually increased unemployment by more than two percent, the size of the federal government has grown by a quarter, and we have the scandals surrounding voter intimidation by the New Black Panther Party, the Solyndra scandal, Fast and Furious, his latest unconstitutional power grabs, and more.
Since he can’t run on his record, so what will he do? My guess is, first, he will claim that while things have been bad under his administration, he has the right policies, and therefore it would have been even worse under Republicans. The second angle I believe he will use, and indeed we saw it implemented in part during the 2012 mid-term elections, is to paint his opposition as being against him because he is black, and because they are just bad people. Why that route? Because if you can demonize the messenger you can avoid having to address the message.
While laid up in bed last week recovering from surgery, my coworkers sent me a care package that included Sen. Rand Paul’s new book, The Tea Party Goes to Washington. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to get past the first few pages. But Matt Welch brings us this passage from the book of Sen. Paul slamming George W. Bush:
Imagine this-what if there had never been a President George W. Bush, and when Bill Clinton left office he was immediately replaced with Barack Obama. Now imagine Obama had governed from 2000 to 2008 exactly as Bush did-doubling the size of government, doubling the debt, expanding federal entitlements and education, starting the Iraq war-the whole works. To make matters worse, imagine that for a portion of that time, the Democrats actually controlled all three branches of government. Would Republicans have given Obama and his party a free pass in carrying out the exact same agenda as Bush? It’s hard to imagine this being the case, given the grief Bill Clinton got from Republicans, even though his big government agenda was less ambitious than Bush’s. Yet, the last Republican president got very little criticism from his own party for most of his tenure.
For conservatives, there was no excuse for this.
Welch also notes:
Paul goes on to say stuff like “any self-described conservative who ‘misses’ the last president and his version of the Republican Party should probably quit subscribing to that label,” and “if judgment is based on spending and the budget, then Bill Clinton should be considered preferable to Bush.”
One of the most common refrains from the political left and the media is that, regarding the economy, conservatives advocate for unchecked freedom for big business to do whatever it wants to do, and for no government interference with business at all. These assertions stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of conservatism.
For the conservative, the issue comes down to the proper role of government. To have no government at all is anarchy, and certainly no conservative would argue that. So the question is not whether or not there should be government involvement (there should), but what level of government involvement is appropriate.
When we look at the biggest financial scandals of the last decade (Enron, WorldCom, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, etc.), they all have one thing in common. At some point, whether through active complicity or negligence, government played a huge role in allowing the scandals to occur. And with every scandal, it becomes an excuse, or rather an imperative, to increase the level of government involvement to keep it from occurring again.
Some of the major scandals have occurred because the regulatory oversight assigned to one government agency or another was either inadequately enforced, or government employees were co-opted into the fraudulent scheme. Others occur because our statutory and regulatory law has become so complex that it is inevitable that a crafty thief will be able to find technical loopholes that fulfill the letter of the law while being contradictory to the clear intent of the law. Either way, we continue to add layer after layer of government bureaucracy, regulation and complexity, and yet the scandals keep getting more and more expensive. That is because the more complex the law, the easier it is to find a technical Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card.