Label Me Conservative
By: Daniel Clark
The reason Democrats lost big in the recent mid-terms is labels. Yes, whenever the chattering classes start telling us that ideological labels impede constructive national dialogue, it usually means the liberal/progressive agenda is being soundly rejected again. So, buckle in, America, a well-organized campaign is about to tell you — for the umpteenth time this century — that you’re too loud, too extreme, uncompromising, and limits on political advertising may well be prescribed to ensure a healthier civic dialogue.
And you may hear it from the right as well as the left. Columnist Kathleen Parker, who inexplicably passes for conservative, recently profiled a new organization called No Labels. I’ll spare the reader the excruciatingly uninspiring details of its inception, except to say that it’s a well-funded (more than $1 million), bi-partisan effort to unite those independent voices alienated by the dominant extremes in the political arena. Parker lauded their efforts, and though she cited Nancy Pelosi as an example of a leader whose rhetoric repels rather than invites opposing input, she offered at least three examples of Republicans who reportedly lost for not regurgitating the anti-Obama rhetoric of the Tea Party. Maggie Hanson, a New Hampshire state senator, apparently lost because she was too moderate. In South Carolina, Republican congressman Bob Inglis lost to a Tea Party candidate because he (according to Parker) wouldn’t claim that President Obama was a Muslin and not born in the US.
Cry me a river. Anyone who thinks the Democrats were crushed because of Obama’s religion or birth status is drowning in the mushy middle and ignorant of the cold, hard economic realities of our time. By virtue of our freedom, we Americans are passionate, excessive, sometimes loud and sometimes gaudy. We think for ourselves, but, out of necessity, we typically attach our ideas and agendas to movements of like-minded individuals. Unlike Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, most of us are not bound by the etiquette of cocktail society, and because our individual opinions will never reach millions, our labels are the only megaphones we have, thus we, of all persuasions, proudly sport our buttons, bumper stickers and t-shirts.
America was built on the fiery, partisan voices of individuals with the guts to take a stand and identify themselves. “Give me liberty or give me death” allows little room for compromise, wouldn’t you say? “No taxation without representation” would be considered too divisive for the ill-educated Tea Partiers of the day to accept in a constructive context. And what compromise did Martin Luther King make to the segregationists of his time? Politics certainly entails setting an agenda and picking your battles, but Americans, particularly conservatives, are leery of compromise, which they perceive works to the benefit of liberals, who are willing to unravel our freedom in increments, even tiny ones. Parker lauds Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski for not going away quietly and for “promoting ideas and solutions” and “rebuking partisanship.” The latter presumably includes her dismal 70% rating from the American Conservative Union and blather about getting along with President Obama.
What a pair. Obama the Democrat and Murkowski the Democrat-lite. Freedom offers little room for compromise and demands passion and that we speak its name lest we forget it. Paint it red, white and blue and by all means LABEL IT. And label its adherents small-government conservatives — we wear the name proudly.
Daniel Clark is a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author and editor of a web publication called The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press, where he also publishes a seasonal sports digest as The College Football Czar.