Tuesday, October 01, 2013

CPAC St. Louis - Conservatively speaking shut downs and storytelling

Several people have asked me about what I thought about CPAC St. Louis this past weekend. Well, the obvious answer is that it was fun and it was a thrill to be there and it was great to see friends I only seen virtually in over a year and even some for the first time; but there were a few less obvious questions that got my attention, and need some less obvious answers:
  • What good was it?
  • What did it accomplish?
  • Was it worth it?
My answers?
  • That depends upon how well you listened,
  • That's up to you, and
  • It certainly could be, if you listened closely.
There were many speeches, many announcements, and many political designs conveyed, and there are many sites that can give you all of the details and analysis of them, I'd especially draw your attention to Duane Lester's 'The Torch' which has all the video (as well as an article you should really pay attention to). But as an alternative to those options, and with the above questions in mind, I'd like to focus in on just a few key comments from the day.

Some of the speakers, Grover Norquist, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry & others, I've disagreed with in the past on both minor and major positions, but a few of them made some important points on Saturday, and what they had to say is of the utmost use and value for where we are, and for what we need to do to get to where we need to be going. Also, what one of the scheduled attendees, who didn't show up, never managed to say, and which a party member/fan also neglected to say for him, should be front & center of what we put behind us. Fast.

The past, even a weeks worth, is prologue
You've of course heard of Senators Cruz, Paul, Lee, Rubio & others speaking out in a marathon session on the floor of the Senate against ObamaCare last week... and the painfully ineffective efforts of the GOP to battle it. A local apparatchik posting under the name of "St. Charles GOP" made a personal comment in the 1st person, without using his name, but instead took it upon himself to speak for the local party as a whole:
"I am convinced that Senator Roy Blunt understands the process that is occurring in DC better than Dana Loesch and others who make their living trying to divide the Republican Party.

Relax and wait. It's a funding bill, and it is rightfully back in the hands of the House of Representatives."
Quite a large number of the folks he presumed to be speaking for, spat those words back out at him pronto, but keep all of what that doesn't say in mind, and I'll come back to it in a few moments.

CPAC St. Louis
If you didn't know, and if you read or listened to local media you wouldn't know, that the person which the nameless pol mentioned, Dana Loesch, was the host of CPAC, as it brought their long running and nationally known conservative political action committee, which began in an effort to build support for Ronald Reagan's campaign for President, to St. Louis for the very first time.

Such plumbs of local events on the national stage, especially when connected to a local personality, are usually big news with local St. Louis media. Not so this time; the STLPD was somehow able to review the entire day without mentioning Dana Loesch's name even once. No matter. The popular FM 97.1 radio host, and Fox News Commentater (and Birthday girl!) brought her 'consevatarian' voice & fire to introducing the many naitonal conservative voices and political leaders to the popular convention, and helped bring the attendees to their feet, over and over again.

One of the first of those she introduced, was Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who, unlike Sen. Blunt, who is from Missouri, found a way to make it to Missouri (perhaps Sen. Blunt should have asked Sen. Lee to 'Show Me' the way) to address the very, very, appreciative conservative crowd.

He made a very good speech with several good points, but to my mind, and with the above questions in mind, the most important one, was that:
"We The People are sovereign and we need to continually assert our Rights"
This is an issue that I've been focusing on in my last few posts, and is one that is critical for us all to understand.

That We The People are sovereign, not the federal government, and not the states either. Neither does that mean that we behave as if we were a democracy telling our elected representatives how to vote; instead it means that we have a responsibility to see to it that those we elect to represent us, do forcefully represent our interest in our rights, and that they represent us by upholding and abiding by our Constitution in those laws they participate in writing. Failing that, as the sovereign, it is critical that we assert our responsibility and replace them for failing to effectively do so.

If you're not sure what that means, look to the people of Colorado who recently recalled two of their state senators for just such a failure, that is most definitely one of the ways forward.

Who we face... and who we face them with
Grover Norquist, famous for his Tax Pledge, told a story which illustrated a characteristic difference between the Left, and the conservative Right. He was asked by the New York Times about what would happen if the left tried imitating an early practice of his, where he held weekly meetings of conservatives around the nation seeking to coordinate their efforts to promote liberty.

The short version, was that contrary to the conservative's situation, where different organizations came together to help each other build something from nothing, the leftists seek to take something from everyone, and that if the tax booty were reduced, they would soon be left eyeing their fellows around the meeting table, as little more than rivals competing for the same booty. As he said:
"...our friends on the left are not made up of friends and allies, they are competing parasites."
Why is that? Because it is only when working from a position of true principle, that something can be built where nothing stood before. The wealth of The United States of America that exploded upon the wilderness of North America, is what we can proudly point to and say: "We built that."

The ruin of Detroit, wrought from those seeking ever diminishing slices of power and booty, are what the statists frantically try their damnedest to keep from having to admit that: "We built that."

That stark contrast, which is central to the current ObamaCare and Govt Shutdown 'crisis', illustrates the position of the Leftist of the left and the right. It is the mark of the proRegressive in general, that they feel justified, and compelled even, in using political power to take from some, in order to give to others, so as to force everyone to comply with their various conceptions of 'the greater good'. A mindset that is equally true of the proRegressive of the Left, and of the Right.

There was an excellent panel discussion between Tom Minnery, Libertarian Geoffrey Neal, and a favorite author of mine Matthew Spalding ("We Still Hold These Truths"), and libertarian author Doug Bandow, on How, or even If, Conservatives and Libertarians can work together for their common goals. The prognosis was mixed, but one issue they identified as being central to both concerns, centered upon the one issue that should unite us in our current political doings, which Doug Bandow summed up in a few words:
"There is no virtue in a coerced act."
That is the understanding that should permeate any and every debate we have with proRegressives of the Left (and Right), on ObamaCare, on the abuses of the NSA, IRS, EPA and all else, that what they pretend to themselves is being done for the betterment of others, is in fact being forced upon them, and that the citizens of this country are being forced to to comply with what those 'who know best' say is 'right', and it is bringing real harm and ruin to us all.

The supposed compassion of the statist crusader, is anything but, and however much they like to pose as defenders of the weak, their positions are weak and uninspiring. They, Reid, Obama, etc., have to misinform, mislead and intimidate, because they cannot convince us to submit to it voluntarily. The truth is that their positions are so weak that they can't be put into practice without forcing them upon us all. And if you need proof of that, those most responsible for promoting that 'greater good' are frantically exempting themselves from experiencing any of it. Whether congressional staffers, Unions or politically connected corporations, they are all seeking to exempt themselves from the current regulatory flagship of ObamaCare.

They have no real strength because there is no virtue in their faux-compassion; it is nothing but coercion, and it is nothing but wrong, without basis in reality, and as such, they have only our compliance to prop themselves up with.

And what of those proRegressives of the Right, who council compromising on principle, who seek to maneuver in secret, who pretend to oppose the growth of coercive and unconstitutional government, when in fact they mean at the very most reducing nothing but the rate of growth? Well, Grover Norquist had another galvanizing illustration,
“Republican elected officials who vote for tax increases are rat heads in a Coke bottle: They damage the brand for everyone else.”
Which brings us back around to what the St. Charles GOP flack had to say.
"I am convinced that Senator Roy Blunt understands the process that is occurring in DC better than Dana Loesch and..." fb.me/KFSzug6l
A position that would have been received well by the leftist St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which, remember, on the rare occasion of a major national political convention coming to town, and hosted by a local personality, was able to avoid mentioning the host's name even once. Though it did manage to defend the position of Sen. Blunts, and the St. Charles GOP's 'voice':
"U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and several House members from Missouri and other states had to back out of the program to remain in Washington over the weekend."
Interesting, yes? Except that, of course, Sen. Mike Lee, managed to make it, and deliver a crowd rallying speech.

And that opposition to, and avoidance of, those who speak unabashedly for conservative and constitutional views, and the roaring standing ovations which those who spoke plainly received on Saturday, which indicates one of the most important points from CPAC: That Conservatives are hungry for their spokesmen & representatives to stand up for what they believe in, to speak out, and most of all to apologetically speak out for what we believe to be right!

Sen. Blunt has not been doing that. He says many nice and easy things 'Oh, I have always opposed Obamacare!', but he won't take a stand to back those words up, he won't risk making waves to drive that point home. Dana Loesch had been pressing him all last week to state his position during Sen. Cruz's marathon stand in the senate, and she wasn't alone; I, along with many others in the blogosphere and twitterverse were pressing him to take a stand.

When he did finally come on Dana's radio show, he talked again about how he opposed ObamaCare, but about how the GOP couldn't do anything to defund ObamaCare, because they don't have a majority, it needed to go back to the House. What the Senate would do with a new bill from the House, with that same lack of a majority, he didn't have much to say about.

He chose instead to stand aside. Blunt dodged, kept silent, and then finally spoke out of both sides of his mouth, even trying to characterize Sen. Cruz's post speech vote, as a vote for Cloture. Blunt's vote, was a vote to give Harry Reid the ability to strike the House's effort to defund ObamaCare.

A friend of mine, Jim K., a businessman who is very familiar with the daily toll that being able to say "I built that" requires of you,  mentioned something in a private email, that brings together the dark principle which unites ProRegressives of the left and right, the desire to have their cake and eat it too - to deny reality and get away with it (as safely as possible) - as with the mincing of words from politicians like Blunt and his blunt buddy in the St Charles GOP, who just want to play it safe:
"No, Mr. Senator, what really set off business owners was that he ignored the *risks* taken by business owners.  By telling them 'You didn't build that' he ignored the amazing risks they took and gave credit to people who took no risks at all."
Blunt's vote was to stand by and stand aside and let others deal with the issue, at a safe distance from him.

We don't want people speaking for us who who want to stand aside and avoid saying what we mean. We're tired of you and we're done with you.  We want someone more inclined to speak up,  than whisper secret plans,  more prone to standing up,  than standing aside.

The people we need to have in the position of defending our Rights, are not government workers seeking safe government jobs!
And so in reply to the nameless & faceless MO GOP flack who claimed that Sen. Blunt 'knew best', and that those who didn't blindly trust their secret plans were dividing the party, I had one word (for a moment): Pathetic.

We on the Right have been losing because the GOP has done little or nothing to declare the prinicples it is willing to stand for, and has shown us no strategy that reflects anything more than their desire to maintain their precious positions and most of all, to avoid losing.

Pathetic. People who whine "We can't win without a majority", are the same people who can't win with one either. Witness the failure of the MO GOP to override even a tax cut veto.

The GOP, nationally and locally, is divided, because it has no principles to unite around, no prinicples it is willing to stand for, no matter the immediate consequences.

Instead its frantic attempt to hang on demonstrates nothing but weakness. And excuses. Like Missuori Sen. Blunt saying he couldn't make CPACSTL because he had to stay in DC on Senate business. While Utah Sen. Mike Lee managed to make it to CPACSTL just fine.


Far from declaring and standing their principles, they give lip service to them while running away from what those words might commit them to if the stood by them long enough to be associated with them. Because they do not have the truth, their position is in opposition to reality and the truth.
Telling The Story
And that brings us around to what I think was the most important comment of the day, made by former Senator Rick Santorum, that
  1. "We have the truth - why are we playing defense?"
  2. "We need to tell better stories", and
  3. "We need to get better at telling stories."
We have the truth on our side... why the hell is the GOP playing defense?! One reason, is because they only thing the GOP can talk about are hollow sounding puffery for 'family values' (when looking for easy applause), and economic tic's. If they had the soul to grasp and portray economic issues as the trumpet blasts of liberty and individual rights that they truly are, they could get somewhere with them... but instead, they play the proRegressive lame game ("economics is the dismal science") and allow it to be reduced to quantified percentage points of this and that.

Which is the same line of thinking that has reduced the American Revolution in our children's textbooks, to be an issue of taxation percentage points.

It is the anti-thesis of telling a story. And without a winning and inspiring story, no, NO, NO issue of principle can EVER hope to win the day. Principle requires allegiance to Truth, the proRegressive leftist requires nothing but playing to the basest of desires. And without the foundation and backbone of principle, of doing what is Right, because it is Right...and capturing people's imagination to do so... why would anyone bother?

Why should anyone bother to do what is difficult, when you know damn well that it isn't being done because it is believed in, wholeheartedly, but only because it serves someone's purposes for power and position?

If we who support the Constitution because it IS the requisite framework for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, if we don't communicate that in everything we do, the dream of liberty will die. Will.

It is for that reason that we don't want people who only seek to gain political advantage, we want people to stand up for what we believe in, and that requires telling the story of what we understand to be true and believe so deeply in - Individual Rights, Property Rights, the Rule of Law under our Constitution and how it can transform our lives, and the world, for the better - and that is the only way we will ever win people over.

Not through talking points, but by making our point in ways that have meaning in our lives.

And step one is standing up for what we believe in, and if those we've elected to represent us in that, refuse to, seek the easy way around having to do that, we need to get the hell rid of them.

Col. Oliver North gave an inspiring speech about the efforts, and purposes of the United States Military, and in a solid observation, noted that:
"We need a Gov that lives up to their oaths & We The People are responsible for seeing that they do"
And finally, as Sen. Lee noted:
"The American people will always have the final word"


mushroom said...

Blunt really annoys me. I can't stand the guy. He is personally offensive, yet I still ended up voting for him in 2010. In 2016, I'm sure Nixon will be the opposition in the general election. That is not much of a choice.

I may have to go Big-L Libertarian if we can't get a decent Republican in the primary.

Elaine @ Founding Fathers Tea said...

Who wrote this article? Afraid to put a byline?

Van Harvey said...

Elaine said "Who wrote this article? Afraid to put a byline?"

It's not a newspaper, you ninny, it's my blog, but for the clicking and vision impaired, if you scroll up, you'll see: "Posted by Van Harvey at 11:19 PM ", which, even 4 yrs later, is still me.