It's time to reclaim conservatism from Coulter and O'Reilly and Limbaugh and Hannity. Reihan:
Conservatives don't need higher volume. Conservatism at its best is a tough and demanding creed. To sell it, you can't call people who've lost their jobs and their homes "losers." You need to sell the virtues of a growing and flourishing economy and the free-market policies that will make it happen. Because conservatives aren't a majority, hard-edged accusations of socialism wind up alienating millions of potential allies -- voters who are a little uncomfortable with Obama's spending, particularly if it threatens to saddle their children with debt, but who recognize that the government needs to act to stave off an economic collapse.
Take yours truly. I'm not a Democrat and if pushed, I'd have to say right now I'm a libertarian independent. I'm uneasy about Obama's long-term debt, to say the least, but I'm intelligent enough to know it's not Obama's as such, but mainly Bush's, and I'm also cognizant that the time to cut back may not be in the middle (or beginning) of a brutal depression. On most issues, I side with what used to be the center-right, but the GOP is poison to me and many others. Why?
Their abandonment of limited government, their absurd spending under Bush, their contempt for civil liberties, their rigid mindset, their hostility to others, their worship of the executive branch, their contempt for judicial checks, their cluelessness with racial minorities and immigrants, their endorsement of torture as an American value, their homophobia, their know-nothing Christianism, and the sheer vileness of their leaders - from the dumb-as-a-post Steele to the brittle, money-grubbing cynic, Coulter and hollow, partisan neo-fascist Hannity.
I'm waiting for the first leading Republican to do to these grandstanding goons what Clinton once did to the extremists in his own ranks: reject them, excoriate them, remind people that they do not have a monopoly on conservatism and that decent right-of-center people actually find their vision repellent. And then to articulate a positive vision for taking this country forward, expanding liberty, exposing corruption, reducing government's burden, unwinding ungovernable empire, and defending civic virtue without going on Jihads against other people's vices.
If today's "conservatives" spent one tenth of the time saying what they were for rather than who they're against, they might get somewhere. But the truth is: whom they hate is their core motivation right now. That's how they define themselves. And as long as they do, Americans will rightly and soundly reject them.
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