Almost exactly one year ago, a populist firebrand named Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. He promised to do great things — among them, bringing about hope for the future and overrunning those who advocated the status quo. Many of the oh-so-wise pundits of the media declared that a new age of modern liberalism had begun, and that conservatism had been delivered a crippling blow from which it couldn’t recover.
Whether this country, which has consistently shown that it has center right sympathies, is entering a new age of liberalism has yet to be seen. But the pundits aren’t complete idiots because they were correct in one respect: Following the 2008 elections, the GOP became leaderless and an internal struggle is now ensuing for the party’s soul. The media has popularized the race for U.S. House in NY-23, in which the candidacy of Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman has received a great deal of support from people like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin and effectively ended the candidacy of liberal Republican Dierdre Scozzafava, a conflict which is meant to demonstrate a broader rejection of moderate Republicans. The White House has seized on this opportunity, most recently with the appearance of senior advisor Valerie Jarrett on ABC’s This Week, to once again claim that people like Rush Limbaugh lead the GOP and are the embodiment of what conservatism truly is.
My name is Jeffrey Robin — a registered Republican, though a libertarian at heart — and excuse me, Ms. Jarrett, but Rush doesn’t speak for me.
There is no doubt that Barack Obama and his administration have followed through on their promises — they have brought a great deal of change to Washington and how things work there. They have improved from the Bush Administration’s methods and are more effective at crushing their political opposition, be it the Republicans in Congress or “Fox News.” One of their favorite tactics is to equate conservatives with Republicans and to equate Republicans with the status quo.
Whether it’s due to its own ignorance or its intention to mislead us, the Obama Administration is deceiving the American people. In seeking to destroy and silence their opposition, the administration misrepresents the conservative movement by failing to draw an important distinction: There is a difference between conservatism and Conservatism. The Obama Administration portrays the bumbling persons of John Boehner, who constantly says he is looking forward to delivering alternative solutions rather than actually presenting them, and Rush Limbaugh as obstructionists and advocates of the status quo. These men are conservatives — it is their job to prevent the expansion of government, to maintain the status quo — but they are not Conservatives.
What’s the difference? The Obama Administration would have you believe there is none. But there is all the difference in the world. Little “c” conservatives keep things at the status quo, and by very definition must defend the government in its present form. For those keeping track, that means that if a public health care option is passed, conservatives are bound to keep it from expanding, not to destroy it.
There is so much more to us Conservatives. We envision a world where the government is in its proper place as a necessary evil that protects us at home and abroad as we go about our daily lives and adjudicates our disputes. Our perfect union gives the individual more liberty in everyday life; more freedom to say and do as he or she wishes; more choice to do what one wants with what they have worked so hard to earn; more opportunity and incentive to express potential and ingenuity and to make a good life for oneself; more control over one’s own life and that of his or her family. Our utopia is a civilization where one scarcely ever remembers that government is there, because it never takes from us or regulates our lives as free, individual human beings.
We are called many things: true Conservatives, original Liberals, radicals for capitalism, Libertarians. And the likes of Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh sure as hell don’t speak for us.