The Deafening Silence: Conservative Leadership for the 21st Century

The ideology of conservatism has failed. The Republican Party is in tatters and will never rise again. Conservatives should just shut up and get out of the way for the new “progressive” regime. Any questioning of any liberal policy is racist.”

This is the story being spewed by the Democrat Party machine and their allies in the liberal media. It is, of course, nonsense. The Democrat Party was shut out of the presidency from 1981-1993 but no one said that the party was dead. The Democrat Party lost seats in Congress in 2002 and 2004, only to come roaring back in 2006 and 2008. Liberal ideology was a stigma through the 1980’s only to come back to haunt us now.

Here is the principle problem with these attacks from the left: there is no one to counter them. The American people, while still remaining center-right, have abandoned hope in the Republican Party and embraced the false prophet. Most of the prominent conservatives from the 1970’s and 1980’s are dying off, literally and figuratively. The only real conservative leaders in the 1990’s were Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh. Gingrich has more baggage than an international airport and Rush is more interested in ratings than policy. The Bush administration is widely, though incorrectly, blamed for all of the problems that plague this country, making anyone connected to that administration toxic. Other conservatives are only interested in their TV presence. As we look for conservative leadership for the 21st century one thing is clear: the silence is deafening.

There are many who want to take up the mantle of conservative leader but few who are capable. The Republican congressional leadership, save for Eric Cantor, is weak and uncharismatic. Cantor is one to watch. As House Minority Whip, the position Gingrich had before being elected Speaker, he has potential to craft legislative strategy and attract news media. However, since he is new and the minority so small he needs a few years of seasoning before becoming the spokesman for the party. Michael Steele, the new party chairman, wants the party to appeal to nontraditional Republicans, such as minorities, women, and youths. His initial stumbles show how difficult this will be. The calls for his resignation or impeachment show how embedded the problem is. Without attracting new voters the Republicans can never hope to regain power. The only other conservative on the national stage is Mitt Romney. His problems are twofold: religion and experience. Many are unwilling to accept him because he is a Mormon. His extensive and successful experience in business is both a blessing and a curse. While it shows he can manage economics I doubt the American people are willing to trust a venture capitalist CEO at a time when CEO’s are being portrayed as greedy, untrusting and corrupt by the Democrat Party (which is also all of those things).

There are two conservatives who stand out. They are Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin. Huckabee had a successful career as a Baptist minister, lieutenant governor, and spent ten years as governor of Arkansas (the same position held by Bill Clinton, of course). Palin is a successful state governor and managed to excite the right-wing during the last election. They both have one thing in common: they were skewered by the liberal media. Huckabee, because of his religious past, was portrayed as some kind of religious extremist. Palin was portrayed as being stupid because she did not read a major newspaper and had an accent. This shows the biggest problem for the modern conservative movement: avoiding media characterization. I cannot remember the last time a conservative was positively portrayed in the national media. Thus, to start our new beginning, conservatives MUST learn to master media strategy. Without an effective media strategy 2008 will be but a mere taste of what is to come in the future.

In my next post I will further discuss the media woes of conservatives, as well as how conservatives need to win the next generation through education reform and the need for a populist conservative if we ever hope to win the White House again.



3 Responses to “The Deafening Silence: Conservative Leadership for the 21st Century”

  1. 1 Luke
    March 17, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    I agree that there needs to be a new media campaign, but I think part of the problem is that people want a return to classical conservatism, not neoconservatisim. The platform of preemptive wars, shredding the Constitution in the name of “national security”, and making sure that gay people don’t enjoy the same rights as straight people isn’t going to drive people to the polls. In order to be successful, I believe the Republican party needs to return to its roots: low taxes, a commitment to trade, travel, and good relations with all foreign states, states rights, and personal freedom. Palin is a moron, she offers no new ideas and she would be quickly molded into the neocon’s lapdog. Huckabee, while appearing to be a lovely man, basically runs on a platform of making sure that gays won’t get married. These are not people that we can, or should, put our faith in to revive the conservative brand.

  2. 2 Michael Griffith
    March 17, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    While I take issue with, well, everything here, I want to point out first of all an inherent contradiction in this post and extrapolate it into what I think is the underlying problem.You claim that the media is the problem, “inaccurately portraying” the GOP (whatever), but you also point out that there is no leadership.This is where you’re right, and the media cannot be blamed for this.I think there is some good potential in the GOP. You pointed out Cantor, I’d also look to Jindahl, Huntsman, Crist, and Pawlenty.The problem the GOP is having is its lack of substance. Proposing spending freezes during an economic crisis is idiotic. Not expanding unemployment and not creating “pump priming” programs is political and economic suicide. The only way that this is a media issue is the GOP’s media strategy of repeating “no” instead of working towards getting their ideas into legislation.The GOP also has a bruised reputation and needs to realize it. Cooperating helps individuals stand out and delivers accomplishments rather than obstructionism. Defeating bad Dems (I’d look at Murtha, for one) provides opportunities for good press. The GOP also has to realize it left a mess for the current administration to clean up. I’m not going to go through the pile of statistics showing how the country has gone downhill over the past 8 years, but cooperating with Democrats to fix these problems can add to GOP credibility.Until the GOP is ready to recognize the position its in and offer real solutions, it is looking at life in the minority for the foreseeable future.

  3. 3 Rachel
    March 17, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Hm, interesting point.I feel like it’s a losing battle when the media seems to decide who they favor anyway? I think this was most obvious during the election. If McCain/Palin did anything positive, it got 5 seconds of time on the major news’ webpages before being shoved below major headlines of the amazing thing Obama just said. Yet when Obama made the comment about coal factories or another verbal slip-up (they do exist) you saw barely a breath of it on the major news carriers. They’d already decided who to favor, and they pruned their news stories accordingly.I dunno, maybe it’s because the conservatives haven’t mastered media strategy, as you say. But I just wonder if it’s a circular problem.

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