Look before you leap – A Conservative Caution!

My apologies for the late publishing of this article – I wrote it a while back and forgot to post it. Better late than never, I guess!

In light of some recent events and the upcoming election, I thought it prudent to issue a warning to conservatives everywhere: Look before you leap! We’re all upset over the course our government and our nation is on and it’s understandable, and even laudable, that we want to jump at every opportunity to illustrate our frustration and concerns. However, we need to be more careful about the cases that we throw our support behind; and the faces that we elevate to ‘poster child’ status for our causes. It’s imperative that we do our ‘due diligence’ and properly vet these personalities and cases, to make sure that there aren’t any skeletons in the closet, before we throw our full force behind them. The danger, as recent events have shown, is that those personalities will have fatal flaws that backfire on us; and, instead of bolstering our argument, actually distract from it. The Cliven Bundy case is a perfect example of this; but it’s, by no means, the only example.

We all understand (and fear) the dangers of an overreaching Federal government. The conflict between the BLM and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy seemed like a great opportunity to stand up for individual rights and state sovereignty and against governmental overreach. Unfortunately, there were SO many issues with this case, and Cliven Bundy in particular, that it turned into a debacle. Sure, we won the battle with the BLM; but, on a broader scale, we lost a much bigger battle because of all the information that came out after the standoff ended – information that was readily available and easily accessible. The end result was the discovery that both the man and the facts we thought we were supporting were both fatally flawed; and we’ve given our opposition even more ammo to cast us as hotheads that will blindly support anyone waving a flag. Looking back, it’s hard to argue (in light of that case) that they’re wrong.

As the rally cry sounded to support a small rancher who was standing up to an overreaching Federal government, we leapt to his defense without a further thought. Whether it was the good people that physically ran to his side or the nationally syndicated conservative talking heads that devoted their entire shows to his (supposed) plight, we jumped in head first. Even as events played out, and information surfaced that all was not exactly as it had seemed, many conservatives plowed doggedly ahead making excuses for those inconvenient facts. The talking point was, “that may be true but the real issue at hand is….” Unfortunately, every inconvenient fact that surfaced threw egg on the real issue until, by the time it was all over, that real issue was so obscured that it was lost from sight. In a matter of a couple of weeks we went from a ‘real American under attack by the Federal government’ to ‘a tax evading racist nutcase without a legal leg to stand on.’

My point is not to rehash the Bundy case but to point out that there are cases that exist, which illustrate the governmental overreach we all abhor, without all the baggage that this particular case had. For example, the Red River land grab being contemplated by the BLM. This case addresses all the same issues of the Bundy case but the families involved are all honest, taxpaying and normal. This case doesn’t provide our opposition with mud to sling back at us, diverting attention and reducing the validity of our struggle. This case doesn’t offer our opposition the means with which to paint us as “kooks” who are too blinded by our politics to recognize that we’re lining up behind a mini-Unabomber. Another case that we could have, and should have, thrown our vigorous defense behind is the Wayne Hage case. Their are many valid cases out there, that involve upstanding American citizens, that we can and should throw our support behind. Cases that will help us illustrate our fears, about governmental overreach, to our fellow Americans. We need to look before we leap, though, and make sure that those cases we throw our overwhelming support behind are worthy of our support!

Ultimately, any political battle is really a battle of salesmanship. The bases, on either side of the battle are of little consequence because they are already ‘sold’ on the beliefs of their own, particular, side. Where the battle is ‘won’ is in the middle; by one side winning over more of that ‘middle’ than the other side. Just being “right” isn’t enough. We have to convince that undecided ‘middle’ that we’re right. It’s impossible to do that when we get caught supporting and calling attention to cases that involve characters that are unsympathetic; or that are trying to use our beliefs as cover to get away with things they have no right to get away with. There are ample cases that we can latch our teeth into that won’t bite back. Lets “look before we leap” and properly vet those cases that seem to illustrate our cause; so that we don’t keep coming out of these events with egg on our faces.

Sure, we all wish that we could change the course of the country ‘on a dime’ but our nation is more like a cruise ship than a bass boat- it isn’t capable of making a rapid course correction. Change (in the right direction) will be incremental and slow, like the the turn to the left that’s taken 50+ years to accomplish.

Many conservatives, especially those on the far right, are (understandably) impulsive in their desire for immediate and significant change. Unfortunately, this has hurt us more than it’s helped us – dividing our cause and leaving it vulnerable to attacks from the left. A better tact for the far right and Tea Party to take is as a motivating force that nudges the establishment right to increase the pace, but also putting a governor on their own desire for an unrealistically fast pace. A division on the right only benefits the left. It’s frustrating, I know; but that’s the reality of the situation. The sooner we conservatives realize and embrace this reality, the more successful we’ll be. With an important mid term election around the corner, it’s imperative that we are a united force instead of a divided one. Everyone needs to ‘give’ a little and present a united force for change, even if that pace is a little uncomfortable to each faction.


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