Sometimes we get so caught up in campaigns or what’s going on in politics at the moment that we lose sight of what’s important and what to do next. In other words, conservatives need to stay focused in order to be politically successful.
With that in mind, here are some political resolutions for conservatives:
Pick Your Battles
Just as liberals won generations of votes by winning battles over Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, conservatives should focus on big picture battles that result in still more victories in the future because they tilt the playing field more in our favor.
It’s a big country out there, with a big government and a multitude of issues that we can all get sidetracked by. Conservatives need to focus on issues that unite us – whether social, fiscal, liberty or security related – and that have the possibility of strengthening our position in the future. But cooperation is the key. Pick your battles…don’t let them pick you.
Coordinate, Coordinate, Coordinate!
In recent years the conservative movement has grown tremendously. Many people have gained valuable experience, and new networks and connections between activists have been created. But what is needed is to leverage that muscle with greater emphasis on sharing information and coordinating activity.
Start a web page listing your endorsements and local candidates’ information and donation links. Start a listing of key dates and locations for Republican Party meetings in your area. Add any important details that people need to know about how the party works and what opportunities are available to get involved. Email it to every conservative you know. Start an online group (use Google, Yahoo, Ning or Facebook) and coordinate with others to decide who wants (or is willing) to do what.
The bottom line is to leverage our muscle by coordinating and focusing on places where that muscle can be overwhelming and have a long term impact, (especially at the local level).
Don’t Be a Cannibal
No matter who you are for in any given race, don’t “go cannibal” on fellow conservatives over who they support. You might win for the moment, but you’ll lose productive relationships in the long run. Every few years campaigns come along like tornadoes and divide so many conservatives against one another and then they’re gone, but many times the personal divisions remain. We need to make it a mission to avoid that – and call out the campaigns that encourage it for their own interests.
Whoever the Republican nominee is in any election, they will never be perfect and will probably take a lot of “maintenance” from a policy standpoint. But as a movement, conservatives are much better prepared to deal with such politicians than in years past, so long as we avoid division, coordinate and present a united front – at every level.
Focus on the Republican Party
Ronald Reagan used to say that “personnel is policy”, and it’s no different when it comes to the people who comprise the GOP’s party structure, or those who run and get elected to public office under the Republican banner.
It’s great to have conservatives start their own local groups, protest and be heard, but it’s even better when those same folks also make an effort to influence the Republican Party by joining local precinct organizations, run for precinct office, run for delegate to county (or district) conventions, county office, state delegate spots and so on. Get involved and volunteer to serve on committees. Local party organizations are usually borderline desperate for volunteers. If you’re willing, and you’ve got a pulse, then you’re usually welcome.
The more conservatives who show up, get involved and network with one-another, the fewer problems we will have with the “establishment” when it comes to pushing a conservative agenda.
Remember, the presidency isn’t everything, and neither is Congress. Who do you think ends up running for Congress anyway? It’s usually the guy (or gal) who has already served on a school board, city or county council. If you want to have a long-term impact on the upper levels of politics, then you need to have a long-term approach to influencing who’s playing at that level to begin with. And that means you need to get local.
The local levels are important in their own right, (you pay property taxes, right?), but they also serve as the farm team for the big leagues. Don’t ignore them. Plus, races at that level have the benefit of being easier to influence. A little money and organization in these races goes a long way.
A coordinated effort by conservative activists to let other conservatives know who they have endorsed and where to send money can have a bigger impact on Joe Smith for school board than it ever could on Suzzie Smith for Congress.
Hold them Accountable
Conservatives now have a better understanding of how to take political matters into their own hands. They have better access to the tools that can connect them with one another, to organize and become more effective – which is exactly why the elites are so concerned.
We need to use those strengths to hold those in elected office accountable for what they do (or don’t do). Watch them. Attend meetings. Meet with them. Offer to work with them when you can. Let them know about your concerns (and the concerns of others like yourself). Let people know what you find out, or what’s going on – and how they can contact them and have an impact. “Adopt” an elected official and make a project out of them.
Self preservation is an instinct that runs deep – especially for politicians – and conservatives need to take full advantage of it.
The experience that conservatives have gained, the connections that have been made and the techniques that have been learned can pay big dividends.
Adopt one of these resolutions and get busy!