Conservatives began the second half of Obama’s presidential term with a bang – Tea Parties across the nation did as William F. Buckly Jr. admonished and stood “athwart history yelling Stop!” Paul Ryan changed the political conversation with substantive policy proposals to shrink entitlement spending and address the deficit, and Speaker Boehner won budget shrinking concessions from the White House in the debt ceiling debate. Yet now we are stymied, the conversation has changed from fiscal discipline designed to grow our economy to the role of government in addressing income inequality – barefaced, naked wealth redistribution.
Yet the fundamentals facts of the world out of sorts remain. China, our nation’s creditor-in-chief, may take on that same role for the European Union, our younger citizens continue to illegally occupy public spaces and make ridiculous demands, the economy continues a jobless “recovery”, and our President grows government unabated. The fact that only fiscal discipline combined with lowering taxes can get us out of financial ruin, restart the economy, and reassert our preeminent role in the world is lost on a good sized swath of the American public.
For an even greater portion of the electorate it is appearance not substance that matters. This segment cuts across every demographic, race, religion, sex, strata, subculture, etc… Through the machinations of the left leaning national media, conservatives and Republicans are portrayed as racist, sexist, homophobic, war mongering, nativist, gun totting extremists, with lower than normal IQs. This is despite the fact the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were put into place by Republicans and that the Civil Rights Act of 57 and 60 were in Eisenhower’s administration. This is juxtaposed fact that in more recent times Bush Sr appointed the first black National Security Advisor and that his son appointed the first black Secretary of State, the first female National Security Advisor, and the first Hispanic AG.
That the Tea Party is a movement of common sense Americans acting in monetary and fiscal outrage at our government is lost on a large segment of our couch commando countrymen. The fact that modern Republicans are a big tent party with supporters and detractors of theIraqwar, those who are for and against gay marriage, or that includes people who are “pro-choice” (read pro-abortion) is not even part of the media miming conversations. That we all march goose step together at rallies is taken as a given for far too many of the electorate.
Fortunately, we conservatives, Republicans and Tea Partiers, have been fighting against these false media imprints with substance. Since Reagan, conservative ideas have become mainstream – abortion is at its least popular, gays now want to join the once reviled institution of marriage, the black community has to a significant degree joined the school choice bandwagon, and the discussion to lower spending and reign in government has begun and continues in earnest amongst the states.
Unfortunately, it seems in our present day substances matters less than symbolism. That a Kenyan-American President was elected as the first African-American clearly illustrates the point that perception is at the least half of what we conservatives must consider when it comes time to choose the Republican ticket. To that end I propose either Perry or Cain as the junior partner of the Republican ticket, as VP.
Perry and Cain appeal in a direct way to two core Democratic constituencies. While it is obvious that Cain appeals to many black Americans in the same ethnic pride way that Obama does, or that the Kennedy’s appealed to the Irish, it is less clear when discussing Perry.
Perry, like the previous Governor of Texas, is an appealing candidate to Hispanics. Commonsense conservatives may chide Perry for calling people who disagreed with some of his illegal immigrant policies as “heartless”, but in a state with an over 200 year history of Spanish speakers, politics has organically grown with and around this community. Hispanics, Texan Tejanos or otherwise, are natural conservatives – they believe in marriage, religion, and work hard. Many of them remember the big government mess they or their ancestors left to come here, object to the ever increasing part of their paycheck lifted by government, and believe in a culture of life. On the issues alone they should be voting conservative yet conservatives are perceived as being “against Hispanics”.
Perry’s soft stance on illegal immigration, like W’s, may raise conservative ire but if we are to grow the conservative movement and ensure a Republican victory in the 2012 elections, we need change this perception. The facts are two fold:
1. Perry as the VP candidate will make the Hispanic community competitive, period. Everyone knows his less then conservative stance on illegal immigration is essentially the same as the Presidents. That this may cede ground on an important long term national security issue is without doubt, but to ignore that it opens up the Hispanic community to the vast majority of issues they are conservative on is to give President Obama a campaign gift, wrapped, and with a bow.
2. No matter how soft conservatives know Perry is on illegal immigration, he is not running for the Roman Office of Dictator, nor should he be the head of the ticket. Should we be blessed enough to have a Republican ticket in office in 2012, we must be remember that there is an entire other branch of elected officeholders whom will disagree with them on certain issues. It is up to us to ensure that whatever ticket Perry may be apart of, the head of the ticket and the future Republican congressional caucus they will work with are tough on illegal immigration.
Conservatives, Republicans and Tea Partiers, need to remember that while they live in a fact based reality, much of the nation does not. For some of our political opponents the logical argument repeated enough times may eventually break through years of leftist dogma indoctrinated into them. To many unrepentant political liberals our cause is lost and no appeal to logic or otherwise will show them the bright light of conservative political thought. But to many, the first hook that reels them in is not an argument of statistics and number, not naked facts, but rather appearance. That this is sad is without question, but it is reality.
While there are those who would ignore our coming confrontation withChina, celebrate the OWS rioters as later day freedom riders, prop up our Potemkin recovery, and pretend government growth equals the common good, conservatives do not. Conservativism is a movement of and based in reality and we must realize that both substance and perception are part of the winning equation. If conservatives are going to once again frame the economic conversation as one of fiscally responsible pro-growth policies vs. continued stagnation, and if Republicans are going to take the Presidency they must heed Buckley’s advice and nominate the most electable conservative ticket. That ticket should include a Vice Presidential nominee that sends the message to the Democratic Party that Republicans will not let them take the vote of certain groups for granted. Whether through the nomination of a African-American of someone who has a good track record with the Hispanic community, choosing Perry or Cain puts the Democrats on the defensive.