Here we go again: conservatives have allowed an advocate of their cause to take over their messaging in a way that loses any momentum that they had gained.
This has nothing to do with a conspiracy from the “lame-stream media” trying to take over the ill-conceived argument from progressives that government-mandated free birth control for women is an American right.
It has everything to do with conservatives winning momentum and then losing a skirmish, only to jeopardize the political war that they are waging.
We saw it with the rise of the Tea Party Movement over the stimulus package and Obamacare reform protests during the first year of President Obama’s term. Just as town hall protests, opinion polls and unemployment rates were signaling that conservatives had the right message, along came Obama Witch Doctor signs and other misplays that stole the thunder away from the commonsense conservative message fueling the Tea Party.
We saw it while the president had a horrible time at messaging to his strongest voting base: African Americans. After President Obama accumulated a long string of high unemployment rates for Black voters throughout the past 3+ years and a series of disparaging remarks, conservatives raised diatribes to a new level with poorly-played, racialized theories on getting Blacks from welfare to work.
Now, we see it with the contraception mandate issue with the Obama Administration, right at a time when the conservative, Christian political right had won a major victory against Obamacare and was continuing to gain momentum.
Unfortunately, a lot of this is self-inflicted. On the issues, progressives lose the political arguments time and again, especially since America is still a center-right nation. However, once emotions from either side get the best of the conversation, progressives win – and, often times, America loses a little more as a result.
As long as conservatives remain willing to allow the most hyper-partisan, hyper-attentive, and hyper-controversial players in their political camp to hijack good, sound political arguments, conservatives will fall out of favor with more Americans at the worst possible electoral time.
The conservative reaction to Rush Limbaugh’s behavior is nothing more than a symptom to the illness plaguing political conservatism today. To advance past this evident vulnerability on issues, Republicans and conservatives must get away from the hero worship within the clique that places personalities over party standards. We must get away from idol worship that praises rigid ideologies over truth. We must get away from group think at a time when America desperately needs more thought leaders from all realms of the diverse conservative base.
By allowing our leadership laziness to become a dearth of guidance, there have been too many chances for opportunists and infidels to corrupt the momentum and finer intentions of grassroots efforts, leading to a bastardized version of the original vision.
No one remembers the poor rural conservatives in the Southeast that protested both Democrats and Republicans in Washington. Instead, because select racists were allowed to use the Tea Party and conservative momentum as a pedestal from rallies to CPAC, the Obama Witch Doctor poster is the face of the Tea Party, not Allen West or Marco Rubio.
No one remembers that the first Black president spent his whole presidential term avoiding talk on racial disparities at a time when Black Americans faced the worst unemployment rates in decades. Instead, because of a lack of Black Republicans in strategy and leadership positions within the conservative power structure, comments by presidential hopefuls Santorum and Gingrich carry the conversation. Now, because conservatives could not stay on message with Obamacare – an issue that they were winning with the majority of America (a political rarity for Christian conservatism) – it will likely be lost because the issue was sensationalized rather than settled on strength and facts.
Granted, the political left is just as guilty. However, at some point, everyday conservatives will decide that they must become the culture warriors to carry the issue of the day instead of prescribed fearless conservative leaders. Until then, the conservative message- as solid and as needed as it is in today’s America – will be usurped by selfish, narrow-minded, and divisive folks. Without it, conservatives may have the stronger vehicle of facts and reason on their side, but we will continue to see our arguments – and our hopes for any tangible leadership nationally – go over the cliff.
LENNY MCALLISTER is a senior contributor to Politic 365 that can be found every Saturday with Democratic pundit Maria Cardona on “CNN Saturday Morning” at 10:30 AM Eastern (9:30 Central / 7:30 Pacific.) He is regularly featured on CNN’s “Early Start” weekdays between 5:00 AM – 7:00 AM Eastern as well. Catch the radio show “Get Right with Lenny McAllister” live on LMGILIVE.com at 11 AM Eastern weekdays and re-broadcast on Politic 365.