It is fairly obvious that the conservative movement is in crisis.
Conservative philosophy is as sound as ever. But the conservative “movement” in America is made up of people. People are not angels, and people have screwed up. In recent years, the Right has been plagued by distrust, flagrant hypocrisy, utter uncharity, personal insults, rabble-rousing, prideful condescension, destructive self-indulgence, and, frankly, a failure to love each other as we love ourselves. We are all guilty.
As a result, conservatives are perilously divided. Our movement has become driven by personality rather than by principle. Our leaders are fundraisers, managers, organizers, or hucksters — not statesmen. We are obsessed with the present and fail to put ourselves in perspective with the past and the future. And our movement is consumed by ambition, greed, and the self-serving desires of some to write the next vapid book and get the next shallow appearance on cable news, while others point, and scorn, and mock, and lecture from the ivory towers of their own inflated egos.
Stop this stupid, unproductive, worthless, tribalistic, fanboyish, clickservative culture of pitiful drama, vain one-upsmanship, and holier-than-thou finger-wagging. Put aside this childish pro-Trump, anti-Trump, personality-driven egotistical flame war. While the conservative movement is distracted by nonsense, Americans are losing their liberty.
Just yesterday, the president of the United States advocated for a policy of stripping Americans of their Second Amendment rights without due process of law.
“I don’t want mentally ill people to be having guns,” President Trump declared at a bipartisan meeting with lawmakers. He continued, saying that “whether they had the right or not,” the police should have the power to take away an individual’s gun rights if there is suspicion this person is dangerously mentally ill .
Vice President Mike Pence attempted to explain that a policy favored by Republicans in Congress involves permitting friends and family members to go to court and apply to have the Second Amendment rights of dangerously mentally ill individuals suspended with due process of law. Trump interrupted the vice president, saying, “Or, Mike, take the firearms first, and then go to court.” The courts can be slow, you see. The president thinks the government should “take the guns first, go through due process second.”
I repeat: The president of the United States advocated for taking away the Second Amendment rights of American citizens without due process of law.
At this same meeting, President Trump expressed support for Democratic proposals to eat away at the Second Amendment, such as raising the federal minimum age to buy rifles to 21 from 18, strengthening federal background checks, and seemingly endorsing a proposal by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to ban “assault weapons,” sending the California Democrat into a fit of glee.
If President Obama had said these things, had proposed these policies, the conservative movement that once was would have taken to the streets and in a great, unified voice cried out against tyranny. Just imagine the fundraising emails.
The response from Republican lawmakers in the room was pathetic. They demurred. They moved on. Asked about the president’s comments later, Republican senators made excuses for the president, distanced themselves from his comments, and suggested that he may later change his mind. That may very well be true. Trump changes his mind a lot. Today the president is saying we must “Respect 2nd Amendment!”
Many ideas, some good & some not so good, emerged from our bipartisan meeting on school safety yesterday at the White House. Background Checks a big part of conversation. Gun free zones are proven targets of killers. After many years, a Bill should emerge. Respect 2nd Amendment!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 1, 2018
But when the president of the United States on live television, in front of millions of Americans, says that the government need not protect the constitutional rights of American citizens, he must be challenged.
Almost no Republicans have stood up for the inalienable natural rights protected in the Bill of Rights. Some have. But far too few supposed leaders of the conservative movement are bothering to defend our liberties. Instead, our “leaders” are conceding policies to the Democrats that will erode American freedoms without making a single school safer or addressing gun violence. And after Congress passes these policies, when the next mass shooting happens, the Democrats will turn and say, “See, you didn’t go far enough. Give us more. Surrender more of your liberty.”
Remember to whom we are asked to surrender. The political Left is, as the late great Andrew Breitbart once said, “Joyless, humorless, intrusive, taxing, over-taxing, anarchistic, controlling, rudderless, chaos-prone, pedantic, unrealistic, hypocritical, clueless, politically correct, angry, cruel, sanctimonious, retributive, redistributive, intolerant” and “hell-bent on [the] expansion of said unpleasantness” into the family lives of every American.
The Democratic Party that represents the Left advocates tyranny. It is a party that supports the killing of unborn children in the womb. A party that happily ignores and treads upon the religious convictions of Americans. A party that would define and then censor so-called “hate speech.” A party that demands increasing government control over your business, your health care, your energy consumption. A party that wants to regulate the puddles in your back yard. A party that would eviscerate American sovereignty, open the borders, and protect law-breaking foreigners in exchange for votes to stay in power.
The Democrats are positioned to take power in 2018. They are leading generic ballot polling. They keep winning special elections in Republican districts. Make no mistake, this party will take away American freedom if given the power to do so, because they viscerally hate and fear that freedom — and they hate the conservatives who support and protect it.
President Trump and many Republicans appear willing to go along with them, at least on this issue. Any president or lawmakers, Republican or Democrat, who are willing to surrender American liberties must be vigorously opposed.
Once, conservatives stood ready to oppose the Left. United, we sent Republican majorities to Washington D.C. because they claimed to believe the things we believe and promised to fight against encroachments upon the liberties and American traditions we seek to conserve. Our movement was passionate about principles. We felt an obligation, a duty, to conserve the American tradition of liberty inherited from our forefathers, to pass it on to our children because it is good and right, and it leads to human flourishing.
But too many conservatives have become trapped by the present, overly invested in the hatred or love of one man, and have lost sight of permanent things. We should not trade the American heritage for cults of personality, social media drama, book sales, or the approval of smug liberal elites.
This movement would do well to remember the fearlessness of Andrew Breitbart. Andrew boldly, unapologetically, fought for conservative principles. He understood that “telling the truth is fun,” that conservatives are right, and that it is better to be attacked for telling the truth than to compromise your principles to go along with the crowd.
“While adulation has its moments and can be like a bath in warm water after coming in from a snowstorm, the psychic high from standing up for what you believe in and being attacked for it far surpassed the comfort to be derived from that bath of praise,” Breitbart wrote in “Righteous Indignation.”
Should loyalty to the president take precedence over loyalty to the Constitution? Should conservatives permit the media and the Left to bully us into surrendering the liberties of our progeny?
No. Conservatives should heed Breitbart’s call to “walk toward the fire.” Stand up for our principles. Stop cutting each other down. And fearlessly confront the opponents of freedom.
“Don’t worry about what they call you,” Breitbart wrote. “All those things are said against you because they want to stop you in your tracks. But if you keep going, you’re sending a message to people who are rooting for you, who are agreeing with you. The message is that they can do it, too.”
Remember what is at stake.
At the 1976 Republican National Convention, speaking before a Republican Party that was as divided as the conservative movement today, Ronald Reagan unified the party by placing the American people in context with our past and our future.
President Reagan spoke of what he would say in a letter to Americans 100 years from now. And it dawned on him that future generations would know if Americans rose to the challenges that faced them.
“Will they look back with appreciation and say, “Thank God for those people in 1976 who headed off that loss of freedom? Who kept us now a hundred years later free?’” he asked. “And if we fail they probably won’t get to read the letter at all because it spoke of individual freedom and they won’t be allowed to talk of that or read of it.”
There is not a single freedom that can be conserved by a snarky tweet.
In a hundred years, will Americans look back upon us and say, “Thank God for those people in 2018 who headed off that loss of freedom?”
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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