Lace Curtain Conservatives
October 27, 2005
Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush are equals and opposites.
On the equal side: they are both two term Republican Presidents; they both have governed with little regard for elite establishment convention and, according to the liberal juggernaut, they have both been labeled as stupid and dangerous.
On the opposite side: Reagan was a leader, Bush is a boss; Reagan was inspirational, Bush comes close but then falls short; Reagan loved and trusted the American people, Bush loves and trusts from a distance and Reagan was a Conservative, Bush is a Republican.
There is a big difference between being a Conservative and being a Republican...as so many “moderate” Republicans feel compelled to continually prove. It’s likely for a Conservative to be a Republican, but there’s no guarantee that a Republican will be a Conservative. Conservatism is a core belief fabric, Republicanism is a political Party membership and nothing more.
Most of my close friends are Republicans. But, they are country club Republicans or, what I like to call, lace curtain Conservatives. These are well educated types who are extremely solid citizens and successful at what they do. They are good Americans and good people. But, they wouldn’t be caught dead at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference). Writing checks to the Republican Party is respectable. Being an active participant in the vast right wing conspiracy is not.
I am a registered Democrat and a solid Conservative in the mold of many ordinary Panhandle Floridians (which makes me a bit odd in my home state of Connecticut). Like Zell Miller, I loathe what the liberal Democrats have done to the “Party of the People” and what they would like to do to this great nation. My Democratic registration gets me into the voting booth...my Conservative beliefs cast my vote.
As a Conservative Democrat, I support and attend the annual CPAC. I’m not attending as a Democrat and I’m not attending to meet Republicans. I am a Conservative attending a Conservative conference to support Conservatism. Political affiliation means little compared to your core belief fabric. Ninety-nine Republican Arlen Specters aren’t worth one Democratic Zell Miller.
Unlike Republican Arlen Specter, who gladly accepts Conservative votes and wouldn’t be caught dead at a Conservative conference, Democrat Zell Miller eagerly engaged a packed house at CPAC 2004 and pulled no punches. Senator Miller was enthusiastically received by the Conservative stalwarts at both CPAC 2004 and 2005. It’s a Conservative thing.
And, this is what leads me to my central question. With Democrat Zell Miller supporting the Conservative cause and with Democrat me supporting the Conservative cause...where is Republican President Bush?
In the fourteen year period when CPAC’s existence and former Democrat Ronald Reagan’s active political career coincided, Reagan only missed two CPAC conferences. Both absences resulted from the conference’s date overlapping with New Hampshire primary obligations. In contrast, President George Herbert Walker Bush declined CPAC speaking invitations for all four years of his presidency. And, other than speaking via a live satellite hookup as a presidential candidate in 2000, George W. Bush has never attended the conference.
So, you might ask, what’s the big deal?
Well, it is a big deal.
If the common assumption that Republicans are Conservatives is valid, how can it be that Republican Numero Uno, the Republican President, shies away from addressing the largest and most significant annual Conservative gathering? He is the leader of the troops. This is akin to General Eisenhower failing to address the D-Day troops. What does it say?
It says the same thing that a Republican leader says when he proposes a "temporary worker" amnesty plan or supports states' rights to permit same-sex civil unions. It says the same thing that shoving bloated federal education and Medicare prescription drug legislation down the taxpayer’s throat says. It says that the President is a Republican first and a Conservative by convenience.
And that is why our ship of State seems to be drifting. That is why so many Conservatives feel frustrated. And that is why Conservatives should cease trying to please Republican politicians and let Republican politicians please their Conservative base.
I have heard enough Democratic speakers, and even more Republican speakers, pandering to the Conservative base to make me sick. At election time, Conservatives are treated like paper plates. Once their usefulness is served...they are discarded. “Oh, No...No...No...those on the far right are too dirty for my table.”
When the NEA (National Education Association) came knocking at the Democratic door, the Dems rolled over and became their indentured servants. When the ACLU came knocking, the Democratic Party was only too happy to eradicate the Boy Scouts and the Ten Commandments. The Democrats are pros at pleasing their base.
But, when Conservatives knock at the Republican door they get pep talks and little action. I know that the Conservative agenda is outrageous. After all, we want crazy things like the ability of a child to say a prayer or marriage to mean a bond between a man and a woman. Even more outrageous, Conservatives demand that our borders be secured from the torrent of illegal aliens who illegally enter this country. Yet, we get: Republican pep talks at Conservative conferences; a "temporary worker" amnesty plan...and continue to applaud as good soldiers who fear a fissure in the base.
For those lace curtain Conservatives who will surely accuse me of disloyalty and rabble-rousing, let me remind you of what President Reagan said in his Farewell Address to the Nation..."We the people" tell the government what to do, it doesn't tell us. "We the people" are the driver, the government is the car. And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast.
It is the sacred responsibility of Conservatives, and all Americans, to hold their leaders accountable. It is the sacred responsibility of Conservatives, and all Americans, to steer their government and not be steered by it. This is not a football game and we are not cheerleaders. This is a great nation and we are the citizens entrusted by history to shepherd it.
Unlike so many of our politicians and ruling elite, I trust the common sense of the American people and so should you. If something seems amiss...then it probably is. It is your Right and, more importantly, your Duty to set this nation’s agenda. Leave the myopic cheerleading to the liberals. You are the moral compass of the political Parties and God help us if that role should ever reverse itself.