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Are Conservatives Cleaning House Again?

Posted on December 9 2010 9:00 am
I'm a recovering Leftist who's now a Goldwater conservative. A lifelong Arizona resident, I'm a freelance writer. I spend my free time reading, power-walking, shooting and antiquing.
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In his Tuesday post, Calvin Freiburger takes exception to my concerns about statist social conservatives.  If he is correct, far from being disappointed, I will be elated.  He says,

“To be sure, there are a select handful of individuals who come to mind – for instance, Joseph Farah and Peter Sprigg – but beyond that, I don’t know how any significant, respected portion of the social conservative movement fits the bill.”

People like Farah and Sprigg make a lot of noise, and everyone outside the audience of the mainstream conservative media hear this noise and make much of it.  Do they make too much? That is quite possible.  But besides Freiburger and a few like him, how many on the Right are stepping forward to set the record straight?

I am perfectly willing to consider the possibility that, like many former leftists, I am more afraid of the big-government social conservatives than I have any real reason to be.  If this is true, nobody will be gladder of it than me.  I made the journey from closeted libertarian on the Left to out-and-proud libertarian conservative with some trepidation.  I anticipated that as big a fight lay ahead in beating back the Granny Government types on the Right as would be necessary on the Left.  Was I wrong? Perhaps, but I still have some questions.

Many longtime conservatives have, like this young man, taken me to task for my supposedly outrageous ignorance in thinking the statist Right a threat.  But it does have an image problem.  It was not simply caused by the distortions of “the liberal media,” because it has done much (by omission, if not commission) to help it along.  It often acts as if it is, in fact, very much afraid of the very power-mad theocrats people like Freiburger claim are dwindling in number.  Of course the only way you can win national elections is to downplay them, but it would show more integrity if the movement simply cleaned house.

Where are those on the Right who are willing – publicly, emphatically and not just by vague implication – to repudiate the noisemakers and would-be tyrants? Is another housecleaning necessary? William F. Buckley bravely stood up against the kooks in the early Sixties, and the conservative movement was far the better for it.  Perhaps Mr. Freiburger should be editing the National Review.

Not only the hard Left, but also much of the political middle believes that social conservatives are dangerous.  This is exactly why the Tea Party movement deemphasized social issues in the first place, and it is also why it has enjoyed so much success.  If the big-government faction of the social Right is truly a paper tiger, is it not in the interest of conservatives to make sure this is more widely understood?

I retain a deep distrust of people who want to turn my own government against me.  If most conservatives favor civil unions, think small children should not be taught anything (pro or con) about homosexuality in the schools and believe in one standard of conduct for all in the military – gay and straight – then I am with them.  But most of them say little, if anything, about any of these issues save the second.  They may not be ready to join the control-freaks, but they certainly seem to be afraid of them.

When I watch FOX or read conservative magazines – which I do daily – I see an awful lot of what I can only describe as Right-Wing political correctness.  Most of which consists less of what is actually uttered than what is cautiously omitted.  The majority of Republican politicians and conservative pundits seem to play it both ways:  they may say little to scare people, but they hear others say scary things and offer no rebuttal.  The impression this gives is that social cons wishing to use oppressive government to further their ends still run the show behind the scenes.

One who did stand up to declare otherwise was Ann Coulter.  The venomous Farah attacked her after she spoke at Homocon.  She promptly put him in his place:

“I will say that [Farah] could give less than two sh-ts about the conservative movement — as demonstrated by his promotion of the birther nonsense (long ago disproved by my newspaper, human events, also sweetness & light, american spectator and national review etc, etc etc). He’s the only allegedly serious conservative pushing the birther thing. for ONE reason: to get hits on his website.”

Clashes like these do seem to signify that the goal posts have been moved.  Farah himself now grumbles that he is not a conservative.  The movement, he says, has left him and his ilk behind.

Hallelujah and glory be if this is true.  Far from hiding its light under a bushel-basket, still fearing what the supposedly unwashed rabble in the Bible Belt are going to say in protest, conservative leaders should stand up and loudly join Ann Coulter.  Recent indications are that the rabble are not so unwashed after all.  They deserve voices worthy of them, as do those who – like me – have come over to the Right hoping that a new day is dawning, indeed.

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