Don’t Curse Your Conservative Leadership — Become It

By: Guest Authors

by: David Bozeman

What conservative leadership?

Politically, of course, foot soldiers from the right have been flailing away, with only intermittent leadership since Ronald Reagan departed the national scene. Governors Sarah Palin or Bobby Jindal, both enormously popular, could assume the role of defacto leader, but they are quietly fulfilling their duties, leaving the ever-eloquent Mike Huckabee a strong possibility, though, sadly, his conservative creds garner, at best, a lukewarm response.

Also sad, with the exception of talk radio and pockets of the internet, most right-wing commentary is flat, tepid and predictable. How much more congratulations from our side of the aisle does President-elect Obama merit for the ‘ideological diversity’ of his cabinet choices? I mean — ENOUGH ALREADY. Where is the outrage over Eric Holder for attorney general, he of the Marc Rich-pardon and Elian Gonzalez fiascoes? And the slick, conniving Hillary Clinton for secretary of state? On the basis of what? Republicans inexplicably fell in love with her in 2008 and even the fiery Ann Coulter disappointed me on that one.

Furthermore, aren’t most right-wingers more intent on showing their good sportsmanship than in sharing principle? Everyone mouths the mantra that they want President-elect Obama to succeed, but is it heresy to suggest that while you wish peace and prosperity for your country, you do not hope that Obama succeeds in taxing and nationalizing the public sector?

One could argue that the right is just observing the traditional honeymoon period for newly elected presidents. Perhaps, but still it bears asking — what happened to the social conservatives, the same bloc credited with putting Bush over the top in 2004? Probably no one group could have countered the armies of newly registered Obama voters, but a consistent, unified message of outrage, given Obama’s hideous record on abortion, could have resonated.

Forgetting politics for the moment, whatever happened to solid, old-fashioned judgment? The sliming of our culture continues unabated, with the voices of opposition growing not only dimmer but switching allegiances to the join the ranks of the cool. Bill O’Reilly’s ‘Culture Warriors’ segment recently featured conservative author Monica Crowley dismissing the hubbub over a sexually explicit jeans commercial starring two teenagers as no worse than MTV. Ho-hum. If she is a cultural warrior, then I’d hate to see a pacifist. In The Death of the Grownup from 2007, Diana West profiles numerous other examples of conservatives and the sleazing of America, notably Laura Bush’s public roast of her husband that included references to male strippers, the president’s hands and his mistaken intentions with the underside of a horse.

Any thriving movement requires a set of shared principles, impassioned foot soldiers and leadership. For the latter, the natural inclination is to look from the top down, but we may find ours from the bottom up, from amongst hockey moms and Joe-Six-Packs in flyover states, firing up the base via the internet. Many conservatives, notoriously individualistic, will not follow any leader, and we have left more than a few would-be standard bearers alone in the public arena to fend for themselves.

A perfect world would not require popular movements predicated on preserving market-based economies, among other fundamental freedoms. Back in the real world, just such a movement awaits a leader who is bold, principled and charismatic. Talk radio and the internet can’t lead alone, but hopefully they will thrust someone forward who will buy the America we love another half-century after the coming Obama-nation.

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