We need new converts to the conservative cause


We conservatives are losing the ideological battle for the nation – for the hearts and minds of the American people. It’s not that our principles and policies are wrong – they are not – it’s that we’re preaching to the choir and thus making few converts to the conservative cause.

True, conservatives have written dozens of best-selling books and have established dozens of widely-listened-to talk shows, and Fox News’ ratings have never been better. But conservative journalists, writers, columnists, and activists are preaching to the choir – to people who are already right-wing stalwarts. Very few liberals or moderates read Michelle Malkin’s books and columns, listen to Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin, or watch Megyn Kelly. As concincing as these conservative voices sound to you, Dear Readers, and to me, they aren’t making many converts to the conservative cause, which needs MANY new converts, as Steven Warshawsky rightly observed 5 years ago.

That’s for two reasons.

Firstly, the nation has become much less center-right, and much more liberal, than it has been for the past 2 centuries. Currently, only a slim majority of Americans oppose defense cuts, while a full 47% support them; a large majority of Americans supports tax hikes on “rich people” (i.e. the most productive citizens) and gay marriage; and most Americans oppose entitlement reform and cuts in other programs they personally benefit from. Also compare President Bush’s electoral struggles to the huge victories of previous Republican Presidents, who usually won by landslides (in 1952, 1956, 1972, 1980, 1984, and 1988). On the other hand, President Bush won in 2000 due to the intervention of the SCOTUS (otherwise, Florida courts would’ve given the White House to Gore), and in 2004, despite a growing economy and Republicans’ traditional advantage on foreign affairs, he barely won 51% of the popular vote and 286 EC votes.

The nation is less hospitable than ever before to free market economics, limited Constitutional government, a strong national defense, and traditional Christian values.

While I believe magazines like HumanEvents are doing a fine job and should continue doing it, I think we conservatives need to prioritize our time, websites, articles, and money on making NEW converts to the cause. Our strength will be in our numbers.

How do we do that?

Firstly, we need to continue to grow the audiences of existing conservative media outlets (such as Fox News, the Washington Times, the NY Sun, and the Orange County Register) and to make sure they stay conservative. I am particularly worried about Roger Ailes hiring strident liberals such as Juan Williams and Lis Wiehl, and about conservative’ outlets recent tendency to blindly reprint garbage articles on foreign and defense issues from liberal media outlets rather than write their own articles and present the conservative, or at least a neutral, point of view. And we need to establish new conservative media outlets, particularly in cities and states where there are currently none.

Secondly, we need to take the campus over from liberals and stop colleges from indoctrinating young people.

But these are long-term goals. Achieving them will take much time.

As Steven Warshawsky pointed out in his great article 5 years ago, we conservatives can make a difference much sooner and much easier.

How? Warshawsky proposes (and I agree) a national advertisement campaign: buying space on billboards, buses, subway trains, in newspapers and magazines, and air time on radio and television channels. That should be used to display/air simple, short, attractive advertisements which should:

  • Quote America’s Foundational Documents and the writings and statements of great Americans;
  • Celebrate America’s great accomplishments;
  • Explain what the facts on the various issues are, why liberal policies are wrong, and why conservative principles policies are right and work best.

Warshawsky rightly points out that these days, besides being indoctrinated with liberal propaganda by schools, colleges, the media, the courts, and Hollywood, Americans are being bombarded with such propaganda daily everywhere they go. Next time you go to a shopping mall, Warshawsky says, look at how many liberal images and messages there are and how aggressive they are. Then look for conservative images and messages. You will be lucky to see any.

So conservative think-tanks, PACs, Super PACs, and other organizations need to start running and posting such ads – not just to defeat liberal politicians, but to educate the American people on the facts of life and on conservative principles and policies. And this campaign needs to be continued permanently, not just during election seasons every2 years, just like liberals wage an unending battle to inundate the American people with their propaganda.

Warshawsky did not elaborate on the details of such a conservative ad campaign (as this was beyond the scope of his article), so I will do so here. Just to use a few examples:

1) Unless Congress acts, sequestration will deeply hit America’s defense, resulting in, inter alia, an immediate elimination of the entire ICBM leg of the nuclear triad, 2/3s of the already small bomber fleet, and 1/3 of the SSBN fleet, and the cancellation of their replacement programs, as well as deep cuts elsewhere in the military. So conservative think-tanks, PACs, and Super PACs should air (and post in print) 1-minute/1-page ads explaining:

  • Why sequestration would be disastrous for America’s security, industrial base, and the economy at large (while failing to significantly reduce the deficit);
  • How the sequester came about, and that it was never intended to be policy;
  • How the Dems are using it as  means of blackmail to force Republicans to agree to steep tax hikes;
  • What is a better way to balance the budget (e.g. the RSC’s, the Heritage Foundation’s, and Rand Paul’s budget plans).

Such an ad could exist as a video, a newspaper/magazine advertisement, or in both versions.

2) On tax hikes, an ad could explain, for example:

  • That “rich people” already bear 70% of the federal tax burden;
  • That taxing them even more will cause them to emigrate;
  • That tax hikes on rich people have historically failed, both in the US and in foreign countries; and
  • That rich people are just as entitled to their money as everyone else.

And, as Warshawsky points out, every ad – whether it’s on the radio and TV, in newspapers/mags, or on billboards, must include a link to a website where people can read more about the issue (75% of Americans have Internet access). That way, people will be able to learn more and will be exposed to a conservative website they likely have never seen before.

So, it’s high time for conservative think-tanks (including the Heritage Foundation and AEI), PACs, and Super PACs (including American Crossroads) to start producing and buying such ads. Time to begin the hard work, folks!


One thought on “We need new converts to the conservative cause”

  1. A campaign of the kind Warshawsky recommends is certainly called for, but it is a band-aid fix for a problem that requires more than cosmetic treatment, namely, the GOP itself is directionless, torn by internal dissention, and no longer offers a clear political or ideological alternative to the Democrat Party and the left. In simpler terms, people no longer even know what the term “conservative” means. In part that is the fault of Republicans themselves, who, in seeking to be all things to all people, have so diluted the term as to render it meaningless. Offering watered-down leftism and calling it “conservatism” is not a recipe for winning elections. As the two terms of Ronald Reagan proved, Americans respond strongly to a genuine conservative who is unapologetic about his beliefs. However, the current GOP establishment has made it quit clear that conservatism of the Reagan-Goldwater variety is about as a welcome in the party as a hooker in church. Educating Americans about the constitution is wonderful, but may backfire if the voters find out that the GOP violates the precepts of that document every bit as much as the Democrats. Unless the GOP is willing to “walk the walk” constritutionally, they’d better not start “talking the talk.” The foremost mission now, today, has to be to defeat Obama – but getting conservatism back into the GOP should be one of our chief priorities going forward, if we hope to have any sort of sustaining success winning elections or governing once in power. And we need leaders willing to face tough choices, and then make decisions which will probably be unpopular. Leading isn’t a popularity contest, and as long as the GOP continues to act as if it is afraid of its own shadow, it will fail.

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