You do have to feel a little bad for conservatives these days. Not only did they watch a primary process slip away from them and an old guard, patrician “Liberal” Republican who shared with them little more than a profound disdain for the poor, but they allowed themselves to fall in love with their standard-bearer only to be devastated when the country roundly rejected him. Never open your hearts conservatives, you’ll only get hurt.
They also got to see their preferred young hero, Paul Ryan, get battered on the national stage for his inability to complete a sentence without lying. And then their boy got thrashed by a Vice President that conservatives had branded a buffoon. His brand is now so tarnished that he lost his own, beloved home town of Janesville.
But picking up the pieces is RedState.com’s, Morton Blackwell. In an open letter to conservatives, Blackwell looks to history (and of course it involves Ronald Reagan) to give hope to his fellow conservatives. Unfortunately, he rewrites that history as he goes.
Blackwell begins with a delightful fake out:
I had a very exciting time at the Republican National Convention. My conservative allies and I all worked very hard in the presidential election.
When I woke up the day after the election, everything I had worked for appeared to be in ruins. An extreme leftist had been reelected president of the United States.
Some liberal Republicans immediately began to blame newly activated conservatives for the presidential defeat. I knew they were wrong. It was clear to me that these newly active conservatives would be the key to major future victories for conservative principles.
The day was Wednesday, November 4, 1964.
MIND BLOWN! He wasn’t talking about 2012? Wow.
I’m sure those were dark times for conservatives. But drawing any lessons from the road between 1964 and 1980 to the defeat of 2012 requires several intellectual backflips.
The conservative movement grew from modest beginnings to become a major force capable of nominating and electing candidates at the local, state, and national level, including Ronald Reagan.
Waves of newly activated conservatives elected Ronald Reagan, broke the Democratic monopoly in the Congress, and were decisive in the thrilling 2010 elections. The influx of new conservatives greatly benefited the Republican Party then, as it has again in recent years.
This is an accurate description of the rise of conservatives. After their defeat in 1964, the conservative movement shifted its efforts toward taking over local Republican committees. While this seemed like small potatoes, it actually put the conservatives in the driver’s seat building a structure that nominated and expanded the profile of conservatives. Eventually Ronald Reagan became the nominee of these local-level Republicans.
This is a map to the present masquerading as a map to the future. Where is the local Republican committee without leadership drawn from the conservative movement? The conservative wing of the Republican Party has near total control of the organization. There are no Liberal Republicans to eject from local power. If any war is going on at the local level, it’s between Blackwell’s conservative audience and the Libertarian acolytes of Ron Paul, who have quietly followed the post-1964 map to take over local GOP committees, particularly in the West.
And Blackwell’s history requires overlooking the fact that with broad control of local and state committees, it still took a string of domestic and international disasters largely outside of the control of any American president to drive Jimmy Carter from office and open the door for Ronald Reagan. Is Blackwell just preaching “stay the course and we might get lucky?” Because that’s the actual history of the conservative movement’s initial triumph.
Blackwell continues his vision for the future by reiterating the top-down, superficial approach that many (including me) have long watched conservatives embrace.
Seek out the reasonably conservative people, the younger the better, who happen to be in categories long-targeted for organization by the left, people who share our American view of individual rights rather than group rights. Help them deepen their understanding of public policy issues. Many have strong opinions they already share with us. Then undertake systematic, persistent actions to recruit them into the public policy process, teach them political skills, and place them where they can be effective.
Work hard and wisely to increase the number and effectiveness of conservative activists in all categories of people. Do all you can to advance and to protect them. Their success will break the leftist organizers’ near monopolies among people like them.
Note that the argument is not to change course to recognize the changing demographics of the county, or even to find new ways to articulate conservative philosophy to appeal to those in the Democratic coalition who see conservative policies as fundamentally exclusionary. Instead, Blackwell advocates finding “representatives” of those groups and teaching them to parrot pre-existing conservative policies.
Blackwell seems to believe that a female conservative will necessarily attract other women. A black conservative will bring around black voters. It grows from the condescending attitude of conservatism — they truly believe everyone else are sheep, who can be led along by someone who looks like them, regardless of the policies spewing from their mouths.
When people laugh at me when I declare that the next Republican nominee will be chosen from among the Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Susana Martinez, or Jeb Bush (because hey, he married a Latina!) this is why. The conservative movement thinks this is outreach.