Monday, March 09, 2009

Advice for Conservatives Trying to Grow Their Numbers

Ronald Reagan was noted for saying that "I didn't leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me." That messaged resonated with millions of Americans and led to the rise of "Reagan Democrats." Many of them left that Democratic Party too and some (but certainly not all) of them, joined the GOP. This was part of the Reagan formula for success. It was about values, philosophy, and worldview. It had little to do with parties.

In 1980, I was a student at Abilene Christian University and was Chairman of that school's Young Conservatives of Texas chapter. I was also a regional coordinator of Students for Reagan. I was attracted to certain ideas and not partisanship. In my area, Grant Jones was a conservative state senator and also a Democrat. Back then, Charlie Stenholm was a conservative Democrat Congressman. I consistently voted for each of them back in those days because their Republican opponents ran to the left of them.

At this time, there was a Young Republicans chapter at my school and many of them use to say, after the Gipper, got the nomination, "Reagan in '80, Bush in '81." Reagan was the oldest man elected President and you see how these GOP activists thought about his future.

The Republican Party at that time was dominated by people that, today, we would call "Republicans in Name Only" (RINOs). The GOP had an Eastern Establishment bent that saw followers of Reagan as among the "unwashed masses" and a necessary evil to promote their cause. Thanks to Reagan, things changed some what. It became "cool" to be conservative.

Some where over the last two decades, things changed again. When the GOP did something well (fight the war on terrorism, cut taxes for job creation, increase economic growth, etc.), they were remarkably silent. Instead, they tried to get fame in a sick form of "me tooism." The left believes government needs to bailout financial institutions and the automobile industry. The GOP's response is "we do too." As a result, I hear conservatives defend Bush's bailout policies. This is a terrible mistake. We should only embrace a candidate's policies that reflect our values and not the candidate because of his party affiliation. Conservative and Republican are not necessarily the same thing. The last several years have shown that.
Conservatives who continue to defend Republicans who behave like Democrats are like the "co-dependents" who always apologize for their drunk spouse and abusive friends. People who know such individuals (either the abuser or the abused) tend to lose sympathy and in our case, will only chase away potential supporters to our cause. If we want to grow our ranks, we need to stop defending Republicans for being Republicans in Name Only and hold them to the same high standards we have for Democrats. That will disarm Democrats and independents who think our agenda is only agenda and will make them feel comfortable to look more closely at our positions.

Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business, the longest running show on CNN 650 (M-F at 11 am). Eric Bolling of Fox News and Fox Business and says that Price’s Blog “is very influential and moves the blogosphere.” Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal calls Price the “best business talk show host in the country.” Find out why and visit his blog at www.BizPlusBlog.com and his show site at www.PriceofBusiness.com.

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