Jindal Vs. Walker

Recently, we took a look at the CPAC speeches two of the up and coming young conservative senators that may emerge as presidential candidates for 2016:  Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rand Paul (R-KY). Today, we take a look at couple of conservative governors that may also consider a bid for the White House in 2016, Bobby Jindal (R-LA) and Scott Walker (R-WI). Again, here are the convention speeches from each, in their entirety:

Once again, we will tap Prez16 to provide an analysis in terms of the implications for the 2016 election. However, Walker’s speech is not included in their analysis, so I will turn to Jennifer Rubin (since she did a similar analysis of both speeches) to fill in the gaps for Walker.

First Walker via Rubin:

Like Rubio, Walker’s is a message of optimism and a cautionary tale about relevance. Both Rubio and Walker used portraits of ordinary Americans to show what conservatism has to offer them. While conservative students might thrill to a rousing speech about the government droning us or the desire to wish away the federal government, ultimately the GOP’s future depends on articulating how conservatism improves the lives of average Americans.

If you want to see the future superstars of the GOP look for the positive, can-do messengers and ignore the “anti’s.” And that means laying out a positive vision of how government should promote opportunity, vibrant communities, a sound safety net and a secure world.

GRADE = A- [mine]

Next Jindal via Prez16:

Having said that, from a political point of view, he’s headed down a stronger path than Ryan.

Growth > austerity in the hearts and imaginations of voters.

It’s much easier to say “There’ll be more for everyone!” than “Let’s sacrifice, and maybe you don’t need a phone that knows when you want to pee, Samsung.”

That’s why Jindal’s speech was more strategic than anything else, and that’s the role he’s increasingly been playing since the 2012 election.

Finally, he had a warning on party branding, which is an important one.

“We have to be comfortable with the fact that our liberal critics in the media will say that we haven’t changed anything unless we endorse abortion and socialism.”

(It’s kind of true — for the most part, the media will only give the GOP a “Yup, you’re relevant” card if one of their candidates shifts on abortion or gay marriage).

GRADE = B-

Rubin adds:

Jindal, like Rand Paul, is largely theoretical. Most of his speech was a repetition in various phraseology of “America is not just the government” and “We can’t be fixated on the fiscal crisis in D.C.” It is a non-starter if you are a national candidate but not if you come from the perspective of a smallish, poor state. Great. Ignore the federal mess and don’t be worried about bookkeeping. But wait. If he desires to grow America and success outside of D.C. is to come to fruition, don’t we need to remove the threat of fiscal meltdown, don’t we need tax reform and entitlement reform? Well sure enough, later in his speech he called for “blowing up the tax code.”

So in the end, yes, D.C. matters and simply saying ignore the elephant in the room let’s talk about small business, ignores the efforts in D.C. to make it easier to operate (e.g. repeal regulation, refashion health care, etc.) And his pronouncement that we should not worry about managing the federal government is, I think, dead wrong. Republicans have to be the party that reforms, modernizes and reins in the government or the liberal welfare state will strangle the economy and bankrupt the country.

It seems that Rubin comes to a different conclusion than the Prez16 analysis of the Jindal speech. Whereas Prez 16 sees Jindal’s message as moving beyong numbers and talking about growth as a positive message about improving economic conditions, Rubin sees this as ignoring the federal mess, and instead prefers the optimistic message of Walker, which is essentially the same thing as Jindal is talking about. In other words, I don’t think her analysis holds up. Perhaps, though, the confusion was a result of the speech, which by all accounts was lackluster.

Currently, Jindal is my preferred choice among those that have been mentioned for a potential primary run; as I noted before, I think governors are just better prepared for taking on the job starting day one (and with the mess Obama is going to leave behing, we’re going to need action from the get-go. However, if he’s seriously considering a run, he’ll need to improve his speeches (maybe hire a new speech writer). While the CPAC speech wasn’t bad, in my opinion, it wasn’t a good-enough effort for a presidential candidate.

 That being said, I certainly would be sad if Walker (considered by most as a dark horse candidate right now) ended up as the nominee.

Paul Vs. Rubio Vs. …?

With CPAC 2013 in full swing, thoughts inevitably turn to future elections, then inevitably to who will be the next conservative standard-bearer. Two of the more talked about candidates to lead conservatives (and the GOP) out of the wilderness are senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rand Paul (R-KY), especially of late. Therefore, in that spirit, here are the convention speeches from each, in their entirety:

Prez16 provides an analysis and grading of each speech in terms of the implications for the 2016 election.

As a way of introduction, for weeks now, there’s been buzz about a growing divide between the Marco Rubio vs. Rand Paul wing of the Republican party.

Basically, it goes like this.

Rubio is the new voice of old thinking. He stands with neo-conservatives, social conservatives, and traditional economic conservatives.

Meanwhile, Rand is the new voice of new thinking: He’s pushing the GOP toward isolationism, states rights on a host of social issues, and greater civil liberties at the expense of more civil protection.

Well, CPAC’s planners must have liked the contrast, and helpfully, put Rubio and Rand back-to-back on its program today to see whether you like regular fries or curly fries.

First Rubio:

Rubio’s fundamental message was that America hasn’t irrevocably changed, that her people still want the things your grandparents and their parents wanted. His message was optimistic, it was broad, sometimes it wasn’t very realistic, but always it was inspiring.

I differ with Rubio in that I think America has become a more liberal country and is now center-left, but if anyone can nudge America toward the center-right again, it might be Rubio.

Rubio isn’t a guy who’s going to stun you with new ideas; he’s a guy who’s going to wow you with the timeless ones.

GRADE = A

Next Paul:

That’s the problem with Paul — he talks a very good isolationist game, but is always weak on operationalizing it. He’s against interventionism, except when he’s for it.

The rest of the speech was fairly pedestrian — especially considering it came with such high expectations.

To wit: If you’re a conservative trying to redefine your party’s message, and you get 15 minutes at CPAC, is this really one of your lines?

“What we need to do is to keep more money in the pockets of those who earned it.”
That sounds like the white noise Sean Hannity uses to put himself to sleep every night; not a new message from a transformational figure.

GRADE: B-

For my money’s worth (and perhaps I’m a bit biased), I’d like to add another name to the mix, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). He’s already shown that he has a firm grasp of constitutional principles, and if this exchange with Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is any indication, his star is definitely on the rise:

All that being said (or watched, as the case may be), it’s important to keep in mind that all three are extremely junior senators (Rubio and Paul serving two years so far, Cruz sworn in just in January, 2013). It is undeniable that all three are rising stars on the right, however, a little more seasoning may be in order before a presidential run (not to mention that all three voices are desperately needed in the Senate. Also, none of the three have ever been executives (governed anything).

I’ve long thought that for this very reason, governors make better presidents than legislators. Setting aside ideology, one only has to look at the current occupant of the White House for a good example. Therefore, I think we should be taking a hard look at governors for 2016. Bobby Jindal, I’m looking at you.

UPDATE

Allahpundit brings up a good point regarding the Ted Cruz – Diane Feinstein exchange shown in the above video. Extended videos of the exchange show Feinstein, with help from Sens. Leahy (D-VT) and Durbin (D-IL) brinign up the Heller decision where the Supreme Court upheld the government’s ability to ban citizens from owning certain types of weapons (fully automatic rifles, for example), as if Cruz was unaware of the decision. On the contrary, Cruz is well aware of Heller, as he drafted the amicus brief in the case and presented oral arguments before the Supreme Court.

No. Rather, it appears as though Cruz is well aware that the gun grabbers well inevitably bring up Heller, so he leads them right there so that he can destroy that argument as well. Watch below:

What We Can Learn From Calvin Coolidge

English: Calvin Coolidge.

With the recent “Great Recession” and focus on government stimulus spending and increases taxation from the current Obama administration, there has been a good deal of attention given to Amity Shlaes’ recent book The Forgotten Man (a reference to those taxed to pay for big government progams such as the New Deal). However, perhaps the most forgotten man of that era is the 30th President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933), or “Silent Cal” as he was known.

Coolidge was  and served from 1923-1929, during the “Roaring ’20s,” a time of great social upheaval (not unlike today), but also of rapidly growing prosperity (much unlike today). Keep in mind that he was president in the time just after World War I, when the country took on massive debt (by the standard of the time) in prosecuting the war, and caring for the soldiers and their families (about $3 Billion had been spent on that effort by 1925, according to an address to the American Legion). Considering the crushing debt that we are currently facing, it might be wise to ask how Coolidge was able to usher in an era of prosperity under the shadow of debt?

The answer is fairly simple: cut taxes, cut them some more, then cut them again. Oh yeah, and reduce expenditures (cut spending) and limit regulation of the markets too. He viewed taxation with caution, and thought that taxes should be lower, and fewer people should have to pay them:

One of the rights which the freeman has always guarded with most jealous care is that of enjoying the rewards of his own industry. Realizing that the power to tax is the power to destroy and that the power to take a certain amount of property or of income is only another way of saying that for a certain proportion of his time a citizen must work for the Government, the authority to impose a tax on the people has been most carefully guarded. Our own Constitution requires that revenue bills should originate in the House, because that body is supposed to be more representative of the people. These precautions have been taken because of the full realization that any oppression laid upon the people by excessive taxation, any disregard of their right to hold and enjoy the property which they have rightfully acquired, would be fatal to freedom. A government which lays taxes on the people not required by urgent public necessity and sound public policy is not a protector of liberty, but an instrument of tyranny. It condemns the citizen to servitude.

Meeting of the Business Organization of the Government
Memorial Continental Hall | June 30, 1924

He continued this program that was started under Warren G. Harding (while Coolidge was VP),  and focused in retiring some of the debt amassed from WWI. Under his administration, Congress passed the Revenue Acts of 1924, 1926, and 1928, all of which lowered taxes. Concurrently, he kept federal spending low to help reduce the debt. By 1927, only the top 2% of taxpayers paid any federal income tax, and a quarter of the federal debt was able to be paid off.  In fact, by 1929, the federal budget was actually smaller than it was in 1924 – while the federal budget remained small, local and state budgets grew. In fact, Coolidge was worried that the budget surplusses ($500 Million in 1924 alone) would eventually lead to the temptation of bigger government, so effective were his policies.

At the heart of these policies is the conservative philosophy of smaller federal government in favor of “local self-government”. As Coolidge explains:

“The functions which whatever the charity of the nation may require. The functions which the Congress are to discharge are not those of local government but of national government. The greatest solicitude should be exercised to prevent any encroachment upon the rights of the states or their various political subdivisions. Local self-government is one of our most precious possessions. It is the greatest contributing factor to the stability, strength, liberty, and progress of the nation. It ought not to be infringed by assault or undermined by purchase. It ought not to be abdicate its power through weakness or resign its authority through favor. It does not at all follow that because abuses exist it is the concern of the federal Government to attempt their reform.

Society is in much more danger from encumbering the national Government beyond its wisdom to comprehend, or its ability to administer, than from leaving the local communities to bear their own burdens and remedy their own evils. Our local habit and custom is so strong, our variety of race and creed is so great, the federal is so tenuous, that the area within which it can function successfully is very limited. The wiser policy is to leave the localities, so far as we can, possessed of their own sources of revenue and charged with their own obligations.”

Third Annual Message to Congress, pp. 9514-9515  [Emphasis mine]

Sometimes I just marvel at the almost prescient wisdom of some of our conservative forbears. Like Reagan after him, Coolidge understood the dangers of an ever-increasing federal government and the dangers to the liberty of the citizens that it represented:

“Our country was conceived in the theory of local self-government. It has been dedicated by long practice to that wise and benificent policy. It is the foundation principle of our system of liberty. It makes the largest promise to the freedom and development of the individual. Its preservation is worth all the effort and all the sacrifice that it may cost.

“It cannot be denied that the present tendency is not in harmony with this spirit. The individual, instead of working out his own salvation and securing his own freedom by establishing his own economic and moral independence by his own industry and his own self-mastery, tends to throw himself on some vague influence which he denominates society and to hold that in some way responsible for the sufficiency of his support and the morality of his actions. The local political units likewise look to the States, the States look to the Nation, and nations are beginning to look to some vague organization, some nebulous concourse of humanity, to pay their bills and tell them what to do. This is not local self-government. It is not America. It is not the method which has made this country what it is. We cannot maintain the western standard of civilization on that theory. If it is supported at all, it will have to be supported on the principle of individual responsibility.”

Address at Arlington National Cemetery, May 30, 1925

It seems that the same progressive compulsion to shirk personal responsibilty and to rely on the federal government to legitimize and subsidize one’s choices was present (arguably to a much lesser extent than today) was present even in Coolidge’s era. However, he was able to demonstrate that the opposite, a small federal government, is what creates prosperity and preserves freedom. Perhaps that’s why Reagan had a portrait of Coolidge hung in the cabinet room after he was inaugurated.

 *As an aside, I began this post with a reference to Amity Schlae’s book about the Great Depression, I doubt it’s a coincidence the her subsequent effort, Coolidge, is about Silent Cal.

Conservative Musician Spotlight: Mark Scudder

I recently opined about the nature of the culture war, and how a “surge,” or recommittment is sorely needed. Along those lines, I was made aware of a conservative musician in a comment by Jerry Wilson, named Mark Scudder. So I checked him out and liked what I heard.

So, I got to thinking that the more people were exposed to conservative artists and musicians, it would help bring introduce their (and our) message into pop culture. After all, the more people are exposed to ideas, even (and maybe especiually) through music, the more those ideas become part of the “collective unconscious,” so to speak.Toward that end, I though I’d spotlight Mark Scudder’s work in a post.

According to his Bio:

The notion of “The Solution is the Problem” is a recurring theme in Mark’s work. “I feel so much of the time that the only way to get ahead, in life and especially in music, is to be something you’re not. This particular notion takes countless forms, if you get into specifics, but it all comes back to that – the problem is that everything is fake, and the solution, for so many people, is like the old saying, ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.’ And the cycle repeats for another generation.” While the subject seems unavoidably negative, Mark’s work ranges from the dead serious to the tongue-in-cheek and funny – including comically cynical songs like “Moving to Silence,” about an old girlfriend who was proud of her head-in-the-sand approach to relationship problems, and “Follow Me (The Hypocrite Song),” a politically-charged song whose chorus ends with an all-too-familiar refrain: “Don’t you know the only way you’ll be free is if you follow me?”

The song that I’ve chosen to spotlight today is called “Free.” I really enjoyed this one. The description of the song from his site:

“Free,” originally released before the history [sic] 2010 midterm elections, was a “protest song” about the overreaching iron fist of government that most musicians spend their careers trying to keep in office.

If you enjoyed the song as much as I did, please support Mark Scudder and his music. You can subscribe to his YouTube channel (youtube.com/markscudder), and his website has an online store to purchase his music digitally or as a cd (the standard version CD is $9.99). Also, tell your friends, write a blog post, tweet about him (and follow him on Twitter: @mark_scudder) and other conservative-minded musicians. The more we can get the conservative message out there in the world of popular culture, the easier it will be to fight the culture war.

A Smarter “Compassionate Conservatism?”

Compassionate Conservatism. Those two words are enough to make most conservatives cringe in disgust, curse, and maybe even spit. For good reason. At one point in time, the term was one that most conservatives could get behind, and was marked by a desire to reform safety-net programs. As Ed Morrissey explains:

Matt [Lewis] uses the term “compassionate conservatism,” which at one time meant an embrace of Aquinas’ philosophy with conservative policies — in other words, a better and more responsible approach to the safety net. Welfare reform was one of the successes of this approach, which instead of eliminating an important safeguard for the truly needy, made it work properly so that resources went to those who needed them most and ensured that funding came from present revenues rather than massively borrowing against future economic prosperity. When George W. Bush ran as a “compassionate conservative,” he promised further reform of federal programs to ensure their solvency and at least some focus on reducing or eliminating corruption in other programs.

Unfortunately, what seemed a worthwhile movement, ended in a mess. Call it the echo chamber, the lure of spending and easy money, or the desire for power, Ed continues:

Instead, the one-party rule of 2002 to 2006 did nearly nothing for either effort. Under the rubric of “compassionate conservatism,” entitlement programs grew, and one was added (Medicare Part D), with little attention to the unsound fiscal models on which they rested. Republicans seemed more interested in courting lobbyists and inflating spending than reform and fiscal responsibility. The term “compassionate conservative” became synonymous with Big Government, and voters grew to regard Republicans as no different than Democrats on spending issues. It’s this context that drove the Tea Party to demand a more libertarian/Randian policy viewpoint, and which has more or less made the term “compassionate conservatism” an epithet on the right.

The end result was a backlash against any kind of social spending by conservatives and a drift towards a more Randian (Ayn, not Paul) approach towards economics with the rise of the Tea Party. With this shift came a renewed, almost laser-like focus on government spending by the right. However, this emphasis on economics may have lost sight of an important variable in electoral politics. Arthur Brooks provides the details:

In his best-selling 2012 book “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion,” Mr. Haidt demonstrated that citizens across the political spectrum place a great importance on taking care of those in need and avoiding harm to the weak. By contrast, moral values such as sexual purity and respect for authority—to which conservative politicians often give greater emphasis—resonate deeply with only a minority of the population. Raw money arguments, e.g., about the dire effects of the country’s growing entitlement spending, don’t register morally at all.

Conservatives are fighting a losing battle of moral arithmetic. They hand an argument with virtually 100% public support—care for the vulnerable—to progressives, and focus instead on materialistic concerns and minority moral viewpoints.

The irony is maddening. America’s poor people have been saddled with generations of disastrous progressive policy results, from welfare-induced dependency to failing schools that continue to trap millions of children.

This is not to say that the solution is to return to the big-spending ways that marked the Bush administration (although it does seem pretty tame by Obama standards of spending). As a small government proponent, I don’t want the government spending any more than absolutely necessary. Rather, the focus should be on demonstrating how conservative, free market principles make everyone’s life better, especially those on the lower end of the economic scale. Brooks continues:

Meanwhile, the record of free enterprise in improving the lives of the poor both here and abroad is spectacular. According to Columbia University economist Xavier Sala-i-Martin, the percentage of people in the world living on a dollar a day or less—a traditional poverty measure—has fallen by 80% since 1970. This is the greatest antipoverty achievement in world history. That achievement is not the result of philanthropy or foreign aid. It occurred because billions of souls have been able to pull themselves out of poverty thanks to global free trade, property rights, the rule of law and entrepreneurship.

The left talks a big game about helping the bottom half, but its policies are gradually ruining the economy, which will have catastrophic results once the safety net is no longer affordable. Labyrinthine regulations, punitive taxation and wage distortions destroy the ability to create private-sector jobs. Opportunities for Americans on the bottom to better their station in life are being erased.

[T]he answer is to make improving the lives of vulnerable people the primary focus of authentically conservative policies. For example, the core problem with out-of-control entitlements is not that they are costly—it is that the impending insolvency of Social Security and Medicare imperils the social safety net for the neediest citizens. Education innovation and school choice are not needed to fight rapacious unions and bureaucrats—too often the most prominent focus of conservative education concerns—but because poor children and their parents deserve better schools.

In other words, not a shift in policy from limited government spending and regulation towards the big social spending ways of the Bush era, but rather a recasting of true conservative policy away from philosophical arguments over the nature of big goverment and the morality of spending and debt to a more practical argument of how these policies will help those most in need of help. Even social conservative positions can be recast in a more pragmatic way:

Defending a healthy culture of family, community and work does not mean imposing an alien “bourgeois” morality on others. It is to recognize what people need to be happy and successful—and what is most missing today in the lives of too many poor people.

By making the vulnerable a primary focus, conservatives will be better able to confront some common blind spots. Corporate cronyism should be decried as every bit as noxious as statism, because it unfairly rewards the powerful and well-connected at the expense of ordinary citizens. Entrepreneurship should not to be extolled as a path to accumulating wealth but as a celebration of everyday men and women who want to build their own lives, whether they start a business and make a lot of money or not. And conservatives should instinctively welcome the immigrants who want to earn their success in America.

Again, not a movement away from traditional values, but rather a recasting away from philosophical moral arguments into a more pragmatic argument of how these values will hael those most in need of help. Ed states his case for the more pragtmatic application of conservatism:

The greatest virtue of conservatism — especially economic conservatism — is that it accounted for the reality of human nature and designed systems that worked complementary to it that respect individual genius, rather than in opposition while assuming a Utopian vision delivered by elites to the ignorant masses. We need to embrace that approach again, stop talking philosophy, and start providing solutions.

Not only do we need to be providing solutions, but also telling stories about the merits of conservatives principles as they apply to providing aid for those in need of help, or are looking to better their lives. This is one reason why conservatives from immigrant families can be so compelling. For instance, a Marco Rubio whose parents came from Cuba to build a better life, worked hard and at multiple jobs so that their children could have a better life (and we all know how that turned out). Such a narrative taps into the American Dream, which is something that all Americans can understand and to which they aspire, or at least, used to. It’s just up to us to show them how conservative principles (limited government and free markets) can restore that dream.

There will probably be a good bit of disagreement along the way, but in the end, as Peter Wehner states, “Now precisely how solidarity with the poor works itself out in public policy is a complicated matter involving prudential judgments. But that a society should care about the poor really is not.”

On Conservative Coalitions

I’ve been writing recently on unity within the Conservative ranks (an example) and I’ve spent the last few days reflecting on this topic. Much of that time has been spent just observing conversations among conservatives on Twitter. One thing that becomes painfully obvious is that self-proclaimed conservatives tend to have a hard time agreeing on much outside of a few core principles such as lower taxes, less government, more freedom, and various similar conceptual constructs. Aside from that, there tends to be a struggle for agreement on more specific issues (the so-called aptly named wedge issues), and even what comprises the aforementioned constructs, and how to achieve them.

Therefore, I decided to take a look at why it is so hard for conservatives to build and hold coalitions, not to mention why it is so hard to reach any kind of agreement/consensus within the conservative grass roots. Now it’s no secret that there are many groups under the conservative umbrella, including (but not limited to) social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and libertarian-leaning conservatives. It’s no surprise, then that it might be difficult to obtain unity within such a diverse collection of interests. That’s not to say that it can’t be done; on the other side of  the aisle, leftists are comprised of similarly diverse groups (e.g. greenies, union members, and self-avowed socialists and communists). However, they seem to have less trouble building and maintaining coalitions. Further, in the not too distant past, Ronald Reagan was able to build a powerful conservative coalition with his “Three Legged Stool” coalition in the GOP of fiscal, social, and national security/defense “neocon” conservatives. His policies reflected this coalition by stressing free enterprise, a strong national defense and pro-family social policies.

Reagan was known as “The Great Communicator”, therefore it’s not very surprising that he was able to create and maintain this coalition, ultimately leading to 12 years of prosperity for the United States. Unfortunately, there has been an absence of such a charismatic leader for the conservative cause since, and it would be beneficial to take a look at some of the barriers preventing a durable and long-lasting conservative coalition in the mold of Reagan’s “Three Legged Stool.” Specifically, what is it that leads to the vicious infighting, purity tests and “eating of our own” within conservative circles that leads us to outcomes such as sitting at home during an election, ensuring four more years of Barack Obama.

One possible root (one that I think is very explanatory) comes from the field of Cognitive Psychology. To be clear, I’m not basing this post on specific research on this topic, but rather general concepts from the field (albeit learned in grad school almost 20 years ago). I’m also not referring to anyone specifically, but outlining general characteristics that can be found in conservatives (as opposed to leftists).

What I find to be most instructive is a concept known as the Ingroup Bias. In a nutshell, this is just another way of saying that individuals tend to seek out people with similar views and outlooks to form their group. Naturally, these people will tend to view members of their own group as preferable and superior, while viewing people outside of the group as outsiders and inferiors. In general, this is what leads to both groupthink on one hand and prejudice on the other. The question is, how does this relate to conservative coalitions?

To answer this question, I’ll differentiate between leftists and conservatives, starting with the leftists. In general, leftists are more prone to organize people into groups than conservatives; this is exemplified in the current practice on that end of the political spectrum of dividing people into special interest groups (and pandering to those groups). Leftists tend to organize people by race, class, education, and any number of other such classifications. This predilection to organize people into groups seemingly allows them to identify each of these groups (assuming they identify as democrat, liberal or progressive) as part of their political ingroup. As an aside, the graphic on the left also shows that the outgroup is seen as threatening an aggressive, which can also explain the rhetoric against conservatives used by leftists (particularly the comments made, and terms used by Obama).

Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to have a more individualistic world view, meaning that they tend to look at peoples more as individuals, and less as a part of a group. This approach is superior (in my opinion) when dealing with people on a one-on-one basis, but makes coalition building more difficult. Specifically, when defining ingroups, conservatives are more likely to place importance on another’s views before considering that person as part of the ingroup (as opposed to the demographic characteristics seemingly used by leftists). This process manifests itself in a decreased likelihood of a social conservative to view a fiscal conservative as part of his or her ingroup solely on the basis of both calling themselves “conservative.” This is also why we tend to see purity tests among conservatives; one must pass the test before being considered part of the ingroup. This leads to much smaller, ideologically pure ingroups. As opposed to leftists with large ingroups, these smaller conservative ingroups mean that not only will conservatives see leftists as part of a threatening outgroup, but other groups of conservatives are considered outgroups as well. The net effect of all of this is the constant infighting we see between (for example) social and fiscal conservatives, or even the no abortion under any circumstance proponents and those who believe that there should be an exception for cases of rape or incest. These are the challenges that conservatives face in building coalitions to win elections on a national level*.

Once again, Reagan was able to effectively hold his three legged coalition together despite these challenges because he was a strong charismatic leader, and could effectively communicate the conservative world view in a manner that a large majority of Americans could understand and sympathize with. In the absence of such a leader in the current GOP, or broader conservative circles, the grassroots are going to have to understand these processes in order to effectively overcome them in order to serve the broader national interest. There’s no denying that anyone considering themselves a conservative wanted another four years of Obama as much as they wanted a raging case of herpes; unfortunately our inability to maintain a coalition led to that exact unfortunate result.

In the absence of another Reaganesque charismatic leader emerging, I will continue to beat the drum for conservatives to live by the Reagan 80% Rule:

My 80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy

Maybe by keeping that simple rule in mind at all times, we can put our differences aside and begin to see the big picture and work together to start unraveling the leftist quagmire that Obama, Reed and Pelosi have drug us into over the past 5+ years – starting in 2016.

*I’m focusing more on the challenges facing national conservative coalitions. When we start looking at the state and local levels, the more local we get, the more similar people will tend to be in their experiences and outlooks. As a result, coalitions are easier to form and maintain here than on a national basis.