The conservatives I grew up with built one of history’s most remarkable movements. Rising from the ashes of one of the biggest electoral landslides of all time in 1964, after 3 decades with very little success at the polls, representing a small minority of the American electorate (a segment of big business executives and far right fundamentalist Christians), they built a political machine that dominated American politics from 1968 to 2008. And they did it by confidently and openly expressing their conservative beliefs even when they knew that most of those beliefs were unpopular. Their unlimited buckets of money, lots of Commie fear mongering, and a heavy dose of “Southern strategy” (otherwise known as playing the race card) helped a lot. But conservatives like Bill Buckley, Jesse Helms, and Ronald Reagan were fearless about telling people what they believed and why, confident that even if voters disagreed with them on particular issues, they could still get a majority of their votes. Their boldness in telling the conservative worldview was a cornerstone of their strategy.
Contrast that with what you see from conservatives today. Check out these 2 videos from The Undercurrent, a news channel my organization American Family Voices proudly sponsors. The show’s host, Lauren Windsor, is covering CPAC, and she got interviews yesterday with 2 leaders of today’s conservative movement, Ted Cruz and Darrell Issa. The interviews are on 2 different subjects- with Cruz, it’s the minimum wage, with Issa it is his disrespectful treatment of Elijah Cummings - but in both cases they blatantly lie and then when Lauren presses them to answer her direct questions, they just turn tail and run away.
Cruz avoided the question of whether he wants to abolish the minimum wage (as most of his fellow conservatives do) by talking about $45 an hour oil drilling jobs in North Dakota. Leave aside the massive evasion of that kind of answer to a simple question for a moment. I checked with friends in North Dakota, and no one there to anyone’s knowledge is making anything close to $45 an hour, and average wages in the oil drilling counties of ND are still lower than the national average, so Cruz was blatantly lying. But then, when Lauren pushed him to actually answer the question, he ran away like a frightened puppy. I don’t remember Ronald Reagan ever running away from any interviewer.
Issa did the same thing. First he openly lied about what happened at the hearing (note to Darrell: when stuff is on videotape, it’s better not to be so blatant in your fabrications.) Then, he lied about whether labor unions were subject to the same scrutiny as conservative groups from the IRS. Then he fled Lauren’s questions like a world class sprinter. He may not have the truth or any guts to speak of, but I guess he can take pride in his speed.
Modern day conservatives are fools. They have positioned themselves on the extreme end of the American political system, and they know they can’t honestly say what they believe or voters will reject them out of hand. But their lies will catch up to them, and so will their lack of courage.
Check out these videos, they are fun to watch: