Sunday, December 12, 2010

We Are All 'Conservatives' Now?

Wow, what a difference two years makes.  In the face of the Obama victory in 2008, so many of my political acquaintances were touting their 'moderate pride,' and discussing the various ways the GOP needed to move to the center.  Now, however, it seems everyone wants to be a Conservative.  Democrats shamelessly sprinkled the term throughout their 2010 campaign literature, and Republicans previously known as 'moderates,' are scrambling to prove that, really and truly, they have always been Conservatives. 

So, did all these folks suddenly have death-bed Election Year conversions? Perhaps to some extent, but for the most part I think the survivors are redefining the Conservative label in an effort to squeeze into the political fashion du jour.  

Of course claiming to be a political Conservative has had various implications over the years.  At different times and locations, today's Conservatives would have been called "Liberals," and today's Liberals are earnestly seeking a return to their previous identification as "Progressives."  (Oh, the delicious irony; but that's for another day.)  While there are common threads that run through the history of Conservatism, we have to acknowledge that certain policy positions have characterized conservative thought in recent decades, and none more significantly than those regarding abortion.

In recent years, when anyone identified as a political Conservative, we immediately knew they were pro-life.  For those who hate Conservatives, abortion policy stands front and center as the issue held up for the greatest ridicule and disdain.  Now however, we are to accept as Conservatives not only those who've been silent on the issue, but those who've been in bed with the enemy: abortion-giant Planned Parenthood.

We are now told, via endless and annoying internet advertisements, that Texas House Speaker Joe Straus is a Conservative.  When it comes to abortion issues however, the evidence just doesn't add up.  Straus earned a 50% pro-life rating in 2005, his wife has held several Planned Parenthood Board positions, and in addition to special recognition, Straus has received campaign contributions from the abortion business' political action committee.  This is not the resume of a Conservative. 

Some of my colleagues would clarify by saying, "well, he's a fiscal Conservative," but that argument doesn't hold up when we consider his less than stellar ratings from fiscally conservative groups, and his troubling committee appointments in 2009.

Now, I do not believe Joe Straus is 'evil,' nor is he a Democrat in Republican clothing. He is not, however, a Conservative by the current definition.  This isn't a reason to kick him out of the Republican party;  the GOP, like any other major party, is a coalition of various political camps.  However, super-majorities are rarely lasting, and if we are to make the most of our current status, we will need a strong, conservative leader in place.  Who that leader will be, remains to be seen, and there may yet be another candidate in the race.  Even so, Straus may survive and emerge with the gavel on January 11.  If so, we must continue to work for conservative priorities, but with a watchful eye on our moderate Speaker.

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