They’re Conservative and They Don’t Even Know It
A few friends and I had the most interesting bar conversation with a random man this weekend. It began with a few disgruntled remarks about our suffering financial state and quickly moved to how the bailout and Barack Obama were two disasters just waiting to happen; an hour or so later, we had discussed every topic from illegal immigration to welfare and entitlements to nuclear proliferation and the Iraq War. I was as surprised as I was pleased to see a complete stranger so emphatically reiterating views and positions that were so close to my own.
The kicker? The man identified himself as a liberal independent. I didn’t have the chance to ask him why or how (considering his far-right stances on the economy, traditional values, national security, and foreign relations), but this was unfortunately not the first time, or even first few times, that I’ve witnessed this. I’m thus left with the conclusion that I’ve long been maintaining: the average voter, though well meaning, doesn’t know or understand what our political parties – particularly the Republican Party – stand for. Like I noted recently here, a dangerously large amount of Americans who want to participate in their country’s political system (as they should) are doing so in ignorance, whether it be because of the media’s biased agenda or their own lack of concern.
This isn’t a criticism of my “liberal” pal in the least, who seemed to be thoroughly knowledgeable about government policy and current events. But I wonder if he realized that everything he professed to believe in fell right in line with the conservative agenda. The concern I have, then, is over my observation that so many seem to subscribe to the Democrat’s Party or identify with being liberal because their race, gender, families, friends, the media, or Puff Daddy tells them to. The more I talk with “moderates” or “independents” (also known as those who vote Democrat but don’t register as such in order to convince themselves they are objective), I find that their values and beliefs are often not that far off from my own. And coming from someone who’s overdramatically convinced that liberalism is overtaking and destroying Western society, this is significant.
And yet, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the average citizen should want things like the right to choose how to spend their own money and freedom from government intrusion in their daily lives. Or that they appreciate America’s armed forces for their service, believe that America should protect its borders, and want to see their country prosper.
What should be a surprise – or at least disturbing, however, is that the average citizen does not seem to identify these types of values with the Republican Party. I challenge anyone to ask a couple “moderates” what their impression is of Republicans and their platform, and I’ll bet anyone lunch for a week that it will not be one of small government, moral values, or American patriotism. Somehow, we’ve let the left dictate how the general population views politics and political parties, so much so that recent polls show that a majority of citizens actually trust Democrats more than Republicans over the economy.
Whether we blame the media (and it riles me that they’ve managed to deceive people into thinking Republicans are either “hicks” from the Bible Belt or greedy Wall Street tycoons) or the voters themselves, it’s ultimately up to Republicans to restore and revive their image and show Americans that we’re really on their side. Conservatives can claim year after year that “most” Americans are moderate to conservative, but apparently “most” Americans don’t know this anymore. And the reality is that if we can’t show them, it won’t be long until our claim no longer holds true. Let’s see if Republicans can prevent this by 2010.
Cross-posted at Conservatives with Attitude!