Red Meat

This is the article I didn’t want to write.  These are the things I didn’t want to say.  But a confluence of events has driven home to me that while I may not WANT to say these things, I really MUST say them.

Again today, for the eleventieth time, I heard a Republican knock Mitt Romney, blaming his “weak stances on social issues” on a poor turnout among evangelical voters in 2012.  Now, I’m perfectly willing to believe this, if only someone would show me some proof.  But as yet, I have seen none.  Still, this “three million Evangelical Christians stayed home” bit is passed around as fact, without anything I’ve seen to back it up.  I’m begging you, if you have this documented somewhere PLEASE send it to me.

By the way, the people frequently pushing this narrative are the same people who do not know that Romney ended up getting more votes than John McCain did in 2008.  In fact, Romney also outperformed George W Bush’s totals in the swing states from 2004, for those of you keeping score.  It just wasn’t enough.

But to return to my particular problem with this disappearing Evangelical voter issue, I need to get my main social conservative creds out of the way.

I’m demonstrably pro-life.  Not only have I written extensively about life issues, I’ve lived them.

I’m pretty traditionalist when it comes to marriage, and I don’t see same-sex marriage being legalized in Texas any time soon.

But let me swerve a little here, having said those things: I am also a tea party founder.  My friends and daughter and I kicked off the whole movement here in Houston in February of 2009.  The original principles had to do with Constitutionally-limited government, reducing taxes and spending, and promoting fiscal (and personal) responsibility.  There were already groups advocating for saving unborn babies, quite a few of them.  There were already groups advocating for a traditional definition of marriage.  We didn’t have a group advocating to be left alone by a huge, intrusive, out-of-control government.  Nowhere was there a large group saying “Give us LESS from Government!”

That message resonated widely in conservative and libertarian circles.  And when you’re planning large tax demonstrations, you aren’t really looking at someone’s views on same-sex marriage or abortion.  You’re looking for the largest possible coalition to beat back the progressive march in this country.  You’re looking for bodies to fill the parks, sidewalks, streets and National Mall.  You’re looking to send a clear message with a single voice: We demand the government stop interfering in our lives and treating us as collateral.

Sounds easy enough to get behind, right?  And we did, across the nation.  You could see town hall after town hall in the run-up to the 2010 elections where smaller government advocates faced down their big-spending representatives and challenged them with the Constitution.  You could see elected official after elected official get rude, snippy, and dismissive of constituents, all captured on video.  Well, captured when they allowed cameras.  Some of them, if you recall, did not; another measure of arrogance and disassociation from the very people who sent them to Congress.  I don’t think anything better illustrated the term “the political class” as those out-of-touch Congressvarmints.

All these things combined to deliver a Republican majority to the House in 2010, one they’ve managed to hold in 2012.  Furthermore, I fully believe it was because we united so many people together around a few simple ideas.  The rightward-leaning coalition dropped the infighting for a bit, locked arms, and tossed some people out of office.  But then the 2012 primary season began, and the coalition began to shake apart a bit amidst cries of “TRUE CONSERVATIVE!” “NEOCON!” and “RINO!”

And meanwhile, the debt ceiling is raised again, and spending is still on the rise.

And meanwhile, the IRS is in charge of Obamacare.

And meanwhile, the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was attacked and four Americans killed, including the Ambasador.

And meanwhile, the administration walked a bunch of guns into Mexico, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Mexicans.

And meanwhile, gun control legislation is offered and gun owners demonized.

And meanwhile, the Health and Human Services head is shaking down businesses that are regulated by her office.

And meanwhile, the Justice Department is spying on reporters and naming them co-conspirators for doing their jobs.

Do I need to go on?

When the next primary comes along, do you think candidates for federal office will be talking about these issues?  I desperately hope so.  But I don’t think many of them will.  I think a lot of them will be throwing red meat to the crowd, talking about issues, including some social issues, that have no legislation pending, and no immediate relation to the abysmal state of the nation.  I heard it described as “energizing the base”, and maybe that’s a fair assessment.  But if you are part of the base that merely responds to a couple of issues, that vows to stay home if there isn’t a perfect candidate on your ballot, I have something to say to you.  Well, First Andrew Breitbart does:

In order to govern, you must first win.  And in order to win, you must do the math.  Every election is won the same way – by getting more votes than the other guy.  The continual cycle of red-meat candidates, coupled with the politics of exclusion, is not going to get the job done.  We will never have more freedom and lower taxes (both of which are pretty important in fighting for other causes we believe in) if we are unwilling to work with people who differ from us on a few issues, EVEN IF THOSE ISSUES ARE OUR MOST IMPORTANT ONES.

So my challenge to you is to start evaluating political speeches and statements against the backdrop of the many problems we are facing right now.  Are the candidates and elected officials you’re listening to addressing the critical problems staring us in the face and threatening the future of our children?  Or are they just hoping to rile you up enough to maintain their power, while doing nothing to put the brakes on this out-of-control big-government carnival ride?

Hear the words.  Do the math.  Decide to win.