Because right now there clearly isn’t. The Trumpocalypse is upon us and while there still is a slim chance that Cruz can derail it, what Trump has revealed is that the Republican Party is not, itself, a Conservative party…some of us (definitely myself, included) figured America to be a center-right nation and thus open to Conservatism on the whole. Turns out, we were quite wrong. Between Trump and Sanders, we’re seeing that very large blocs of the American electorate are not remotely interested in Conservatism. Sanders and Trump supporters both share a similar dream – though both sides would reject this idea with fury – and that is a dream of an America with an all-powerful government. Trump and Sanders people just have slightly different ideas of who is the enemy and who gets bashed – and who gets the government goodies. Conservatism has nothing in common with that.
This is because Conservatism isn’t about political power as such. Trump and Sanders supporters have grand dreams of what the government will do as soon as their guy gets in. Conservatives have grand dreams of government doing little – certainly little that interferes with people just living their lives. National defense; just laws equitably enforced; basic services provided in an efficient manner. That is pretty much all a Conservative asks of government. And therein lies the fundamental weakness of Conservatism – it doesn’t offer goodies nor does it propose to punish groups or classes of people. It speaks to neither base political desire of humanity – greed for gain or joy in revenge. So, as we offer nothing – as it were – how can we gain a majority? How do we campaign, that is, on a platform of “we’re going to help you if you’re in a real bind but for the most part we’re going to just leave you alone”? Rather tricky business, right?
But it can be done. You see, even though the ultimate aim of Conservatism is limited government presiding lightly over free, independent people who look after themselves, there are dragons to slay and rewards to offer. There are, that is, things to offer people in return for their support. We just have to figure out how to offer them in a manner which appeals to them. I’ve been talking it up for years now – though my audience here is small, and even among my fellow Conservatives, much dissent from my views has been offered. But it is time to think anew and act anew – we don’t want to partner up with people like the Trumpsters (though we do eventually want the large majority of them to come our way – but only after they are properly instructed and understand what we’re doing) and we sure as heck can’t partner up with Socialists (though, once again, we want a large majority of them to come our way, eventually). Going into partnership – alliance – with Trumpsters or Socialists means we have to give in to their views and that can’t be done if we are to remain Conservative. They have to give up some of their views – and we have to convince them that doing such is wise and in their best interest.
Here’s my Three Point Plan for building a Conservative Majority. It is rather thumbnail at the moment and can certainly be fleshed out – but as I recently condemned a guy for not having a plan for making a Conservative Majority, I think it incumbent upon me to at least provide some bare-bones framework:
1. Stop being contemptuous of others. I’ve seen it for years but the Trump and Sanders phenomena has written it starkly: plenty on the right (the left, as well, but we’re not the left so I don’t care what they do) have monumental contempt for people who don’t just “see” things their way. Not everyone has the time or inclination to learn what others learn. But this doesn’t make them stupid or even uneducated – it just makes them people with a different set of knowledge and thus a different perspective. Of course, ignorance of some facts can lead people quite astray – but even if they are lead astray the way to reach them and get them on the right path isn’t by insulting them or being condescending.
2. Don’t denigrate their fears, either. Lots of people have lots of fears and some of them are entirely divorced from reality. From people who think that the Koch Brothers are conspiring against the people to others who think the UN is about to land blue-helmeted soldiers in America to confiscate our weapons and every possible combination in between. The fears may well be based upon false information, but they are none the less real to those who have them. Don’t insult the fears – acknowledge them. Find ways to turn those phantom fears towards real, concrete problems we have. If their fear is the Koch Brothers then propose ways and means to improve the relative power of the people against those who have a great deal of money. If the fear is foreign tyrants imposing their will on the United States then propose ways American sovereignty can be strengthened. But whatever you do, don’t just dismiss the fears as absurd – all you’ll get is a person who is now impervious to your pleas.
3. Substitute false enemies and false promises for real enemies and real promises. As you are now humbly trying to explain yourself and acknowledging their fears (real and imagined) of your audience you have a chance to start inserting into their minds who is really against them and what rewards they can really obtain by following your lead.
The real enemy of the United States is not a proposal to make something legal or illegal, but lawlessness. Solzhenitsyn pointed out that the real problem with the Communist government in Russia was not that it was tyrannical, but that it was arbitrary. Soviet Russia was chock full of laws from end to end, but no one in the Soviet Union had the least idea of what was really permitted or what was really prohibited because regardless of what the written law said, any trumped-up Communist party official or KGB officer could arbitrarily imprison you at any time. Over time it must be carefully explained to the American people that their great danger is not any particular set of political ideas, but the fact that our government is simply not under control of the people and is not abiding by the law. Right now in America no one can be certain, day by day, they are obeying all applicable laws – there are so many of them and so badly written; and that leaves out the fact that the government has proven itself highly selective in which laws it will enforce, and whom it will enforce them against. We are also in a state where we don’t know if something we’d rather not do will be made mandatory on the morrow by the merest whim of a bureaucrat. Big Government is incapable of being lawful because once it grows beyond a certain point, no one is really minding the store – and people with power who are not responsible to the will of the people tend to become more arbitrary all the time, even without the added inducement of people bribing the government to do this or that particular act outside the law. By telling tales of people who innocently ran afoul of laws – or who were ground up in the system for comparatively small offenses which snowballed – we can explain to the people that Big Government is necessarily against them, and thus grow the number of people who want government curbed.
Trump says he’s going to kick those foreigners out and get our jobs back and Make America Great Again. Sanders says he’s going to rake those Millionaires and Billionaires over the coals and thus provide everyone with free college, free healthcare, free etc, etc, etc. These are nonsense promises but people listen to them because people have a natural bent to believe it when someone is offering something swell with no personal sacrifice. You can’t beat something with nothing and so we have to contradict the false promises with real promises. This is the harder task than getting people to identify the real enemy, by the way. It is hard to argue against free stuff and nearly as hard to argue against “we’re gonna be great if you just give me power”. But I do believe the trick can be done. It is a matter of holding out in front of the people the real rewards of a Conservative government – personal safety; law and order; justice; peace; prosperity. And with this cachet – people like a challenge. They really do. Sure, they also like promises of free stuff, but if you promise blood, sweat, toil and tears in the right way and with the right vision of a broad, sunlit uplands, then people will sign on to your movement. Its a matter of going to Detroit and telling the people there that they, the people currently living there, will soon be living in a revived Detroit; telling people in a dying rust-belt town that with hard work and sacrifice that dying town will be revived…and not with slick deals for connected lobbyists and contractors, but with actual good things for the people there, today.
Anyway, that is what I’ve got right now – I’ll likely have more on it over time. But to build a Conservative majority will clearly take doing things different than we have. There’s really no other choice – we either adapt to current conditions and start moving the ball our way, or Conservatism is finished. And I think we can do it – if we but try.