Looking ahead to 2010 and beyond, this is what I want to see in the United States of America:
- A biblical, spiritual revival … something for which I pray to God
- The revitalization of conservatism (a shared value in the Founders’ “constrained vision”) in American public life … something of which I seek to persuade others
- A Republican Party more informed by conservative, limited government principles … also something of which I seek to persuade others
- A governing Republican Party majority …something for which I volunteer and vote
Where incompatibilities between the above priorities can be proven with a reasonable degree of likelihood, the higher priority wins. (And no, I can’t think of any situation where voting for or against a political candidate has any bearing on the possibility of a revival.)
That being said, a respect for the Constitution and a conservative understanding of history informs me that effective and lasting changes in the political sphere are achieved incrementally. Purity is a religious aspiration, a political illusion.
Now let me explain – including some thoughts I have shared before – how I currently believe Nos. 2-4 above can be achieved (1 is in a separate category, of course):
- Greater fidelity to a fiscally conservative agenda that respects the boundaries of government is the most salient need faced by the United States, the Republican Party, and the conservative coalition today.
- Though there are points of discrepancy, fiscal and social conservatism rightly understood are far more compatible with each other than not.
- The common opponent of socialism is far more significant than disagreements among those on the Right.
- Social conservatives – and most especially the vocal minority who take a strident, slash-and-burn approach to politics – need a strong dose of principled humility.
- By the same token, Mark Hillman is right: “Social moderates who say they just want government to ‘stay out of it’ will soon be tested. Will they vociferously oppose restrictions on religious speech, taxpayer funding of abortion, and federal legislation to pre-empt state laws on abortion and marriage?”
- All efforts by elements of different wings of the conservative coalition to demonize, belittle, or “throw under the bus” should be eschewed.
- There is plenty of room for healthy and respectful debate within the conservative coalition.
- To achieve electoral success, there is a need to merge conservative principles with pragmatic issues of concern to the average unaffiliated voter (example: school choice) – using the issue as a means to educate in the broader principles … and then deliver on the promises.
- Ronald Reagan is great, one of our greatest Presidents ever, but conservatism and the GOP will falter if they obsess over finding the next Reagan, or cling to “Reagan Republican” as a hollow badge of nostalgia.
- We need to “focus on building movement-wide activist infrastructure”, not being afraid to take advantage of new media tools and strategies that challenge status quo structures.
- Do it all with a smile.
The list is hardly exhaustive, but hopefully provides the needed clarification to stimulate the beginning of a productive conversation here in Colorado and, indirectly, on the national level as well.