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Mistaken Distractions Conservatives Must Avoid

By Steve Beren, December 10, 2008


The task before conservatives is:


(1) to stick to our principles,
(2) to consistently and vigorously oppose the Obama/Pelosi/Reid agenda,
(3) to pick our fights with careful prioritization, and
(4) to use skillful diplomacy and tactics in advancing conservative policies to decrease the size of government, stop illegal immigration, protect the sanctity of human life, and promote a strong national defense.


The above task is urgent and crucial. It's simple to express, but difficult and complex to implement. That's why there is such temptation to retreat, to be in denial, and to seek an easier way out. But all such distractions and diversions - some of which I will enumerate - are counter-productive and mistaken.


On the list of seven distractions below, I particularly want to emphasize #7.


Mistaken distraction #1 - instead of sticking to our principles, let's drop or de-emphasize the social conservative issues (life, family, marriage).  [This viewpoint has been advanced by some conservative pundits, and by some comments on various threads on SoundPolitics, the local conservative blog.  Also, at least one recent unsuccessful candidate for the King County GOP executive board openly advocated such an approach.  However, this idea flies in the face of the results of recent statewide referenda on marriage.  The social conservative issues are a bridge toward increasing our vote totals by winning over segments of Democrats, independents, Blacks, and Hispanics.]


Mistaken distraction #2 - instead of promoting constitutional principles, smaller government, and reduced spending, some pundits (e.g., Bill Kristol in the December 8 New York Times) and some Republican elected officials (e.g., some local Republicans supported the 2007 ballot measures that would have led to massive unwise transportation spending) openly call from de-emphasizing the small government issue.  [Have they learned nothing from 2006 and 2008?]


Mistaken distraction #3 - the proposal by some moderate or liberal-leaning Republicans to move "more to the center" and drop our strong position in favor of tough border security and opposed to amnesty for illegal immigrants.


Mistaken distraction #4 - the proposal by some moderate, liberal-leaning, or libertarian-leaning Republicans to drop, or to de-emphasize, the Reagan conservative foreign policy of internationalism and promoting liberty world-wide.  Reagan's policies with regard to Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe, and to Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Grenada, were posited on the understanding that the survival of liberty at home cannot be separated from the active promotion of liberty abroad.  That's why Reagan sought the overthrow and destruction of tyranny in Eastern Europe, and did not accept as a given the "reality" of the captive nation status of the Soviet satellites.  [In today's world, the recent Mumbai attacks show once again the brutality and obscene inhumanity of the Islamic terrorists.  If they acquire nuclear weapons (from a future nuclear Iran?), they would not hesitate to use them against innocent civilians.  How do we oppose Obama on foreign policy if we abandon the Reagan conservative foreign policy?]


Mistaken distraction #5 - instead of fighting Obama on the issues, avoid that fight and retreat into a futile and ridiculous effort to claim he is not eligible for the presidency.


Mistaken distraction #6 - instead of fighting Obama on the issues, give up in frustration and despair, and just drop out of political activity.


Mistaken distraction #7 - instead of vigorously fighting Obama on the issues, avoid (or weaken) that fight by deluding ourselves that Obama is not so bad, that the left is angry at Obama, that Obama will govern from the center, etc.  Some posts on SoundPolitics go somewhat in this direction.


It's wishful thinking to imagine that the far left, the liberal elite, congressional Democrats, and the mainstream media will really be in any serious split with the Obama administration. Let's not give credit where none is due; let's not disarm ourselves.


Related links:

#1 - Steve Beren article "Obama will govern from the left" - available online at


#2 - article by liberal Michael Tomasky on why liberals are thrilled with Obama - available online at:


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