Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Stooping to Their Level

Michael Laprarie, blogging for Wizbang, grouses that conservatives aren't getting it. He points to Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" as both the reason for liberal successes of late, as well as a primer from which conservatives should be drawing in order to get better organized and more effectively counter those liberal successes.

But should we?

From a blogospheric perspective, much of what Laprarie posits is probably accurate, if not completely correct. He mentions several "power tactics" as being particularly important to countering liberal philosophies and sophistry. For example, Laprarie states:
These tactics, particularly 4 [Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules] and 5 [Ridicule is man's most potent weapon], could be devastating to the Obama White House and to thin-skinned, corrupt Democrats in general. Make them live up to their own rules -- pay as you go, most ethical Congress in history, etc. Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show have done a great job ridiculing Democrats. We need to do more.
Ridicule is arguably one of the basic tenets of the blogosphere. The ratio of rational blogs to snarky blogs is probably smaller than 1 to 10 on the conservative side, and probably even smaller than that on the liberal side. The Jawa Report wouldn't exist without huge doses of snark; likewise The Daily Kos would be only a wisp of its current self if snark weren't allowed. I think there's more than enough ridicule going around to keep everyone cynical and pessimistic for the rest of our natural lives.

We have been far less successful, however, at making the other side live up to its own rules. In his first two months in office, Obama has already backtracked on a number of his campaign pledges. This is a pattern, however, that should have surprised no one, since he reneged on his pledge not to accept public monies practically the moment that John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate. Nancy Pelosi has done absolutely nothing toward her stated goal of having the "most ethical Congress" in history, and her morally feeble compadre in the Senate, Harry Reid, hasn't helped. But these things come as no surprise to conservative voters like myself. This is all pretty much business as usual in the Beltway.

What surprises this particular voter is how badly our representatives in Washington have seemingly ignored the mandates that put them in office to begin with. Why, in the name of all that's holy, are senators like Specter, Collins, and Snowe supporting the Stimulus? It makes absolutely no sense on any grounds. This was a fiscal sell-out of monumental proportions, and they should be soundly punished for refusing to vote "NO" on moral grounds. This is how we fail to make liberals play by their stated rules. We certainly seem unable to play by our own.

Laprarie goes on to ask the question,"[i]f liberals utilize these tactics regularly (and we know they do), then why can't conservatives utilize them as well? It is a given that they work. It should not be a given that they can only be used by liberals."

It is a given that they work. For liberals. Does that mean there should be a "proportional response" from conservatives?

No. If we remember our roots, both fiscally and socially, there should never be a reason to stoop to the same tactics that liberals have been propounding since the radical days of the sixties. To do so makes our arguments seem trite and contrived; nothing more than showmanship and grandstanding that have no motivation other than showing everyone else who the Big Man of the Mountain is. Those who ridicule do so because they have not the strength of their own argument to prove their point. I certainly have been guilty of that myself; writing snark in the name of "humor" while all the time wishing I were smarter than I really am.

There are those who complain that the string of recent "Tea Party" protests in response to Obama's economic plan is ineffective as a grassroots effort. Needs more planning "from the top down" some say. Needs more organization. Needs more, I don't know, legitimacy or something.


The protests are not designed to change policy. No one standing in one of those protests with signs like "Hey, Obama, While You're At It, I Could Really Use A Lexus" believes for one moment that the President and Congress are suddenly going to smack their heads and say, "Wow! What boneheads we've been! We'd better cancel the Stimulus and try a smarter approach!" No one is that naïve.

But I do believe the protests demonstrate an irrefutable idea that not everyone is in love with Obama's approach to the crisis. There is unrest, and it's not just from anti-Obama conservatives like myself. Quite a few people who voted for Obama are scratching their heads now and wondering who this man is, and what has he done with the President?

Question: what is the only real difference between the Obama administration, and the Bush administration?

Answer: the Obama administration is better at creating logos.

Okay, that was snarky. My apologies. But my point remains: stooping to the same tactics that made the other side successful does not guarantee success. It only diminishes the importance of our message. We require conservative fiscal and social policies if this country is to remain viable for the rest of the twenty-first century.