OPINION – We have finally seen what it takes to move conservatives to action.
In this case, it was a threatened boycott against the fast food chain over its owner’s stance on the wedge issue of gay marriage. The outpouring of support for Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy is commendable, but it reveals a potential blind spot within conservative ranks that may see the Republican Party go the way of the Whigs. Here’s why.
Plenty of conservatives were willing to rally to a cause that encompassed free speech and religious values under unrelenting attack from our cultural brownshirts. Conservatives were willing to get off their couches, open their wallets and, more importantly, to speak out against the media bullying of Chick-fil-A’s owners. But when the sandwich wrappers are in the trash and the fervor over this issue has subsided, will anything really have changed?
More importantly, why can’t this same amount of fervor and action be mobilized to stand against other things that are actually robbing us of our liberty?
Policies like the NDAA with its indefinite detention clause, the war on some drugs, and the continuing establishment of an authoritarian surveillance state have a powerful negative effect on our freedoms. So do the issues of unsound money, over-reaching regulations, the curtailing of states’ rights, and compulsory government-directed education. These are some of the issues leading us into financial, political, and spiritual bondage as a nation.
Why don’t conservatives rally against these threats?
The answer, in part, is because many Republican leaders, at all levels, openly support these affronts to liberty. Like their Democratic counterparts, Republican leaders will fight fiercely over how to maintain or reform certain provisions, but refuse to question whether government should exercise such powers in the first place.
Those individuals that dare question the wisdom of these policies are too often marginalized, smeared and accused of hijacking the party. It’s noteworthy that, even at Southern Utah’s local level, there is open talk of the need to “purge” what’s being called an “extreme libertarian” movement from the Republican ranks.
Curiously, the Utah Republican Party platform is filled with “libertarian” ideals that define the proper role of government, the importance of private property rights, and a host of other principles that, too often, are ignored by Republican leadership.
On the national level, the GOP is poised to tell it’s independent members who refuse to toe the establishment line to hit the road. Hubris has blinded these Republican leaders into believing that they can win the presidential election without the support of those independents. Given how closely Obama and Romney have been polling and how closely they line up on the above-mentioned issues, that’s a long shot at best.
The ranks of liberty-minded voters are small compared to those who can be counted on to stay within the parameters of approved opinion. But in a tight race, those swing voters who refuse to support either establishment candidate could set the stage for the Republican Party’s swan song.
Another reason that conservatives fail to rally in response to the substantive threats to our liberty is a simple lack of knowledge. It’s easy to have an emotion-based opinion on same-sex marriage, but to be conversant in economics, or natural law, or the principles of proper government requires real, sustained effort to learn and understand.
This is one of the key differences between our time and the Founders’ generation. They read the fine print. The common people of that time studied and discussed the laws, bills, treaties, and contracts being considered by their leaders. That’s something few people do today.
No matter how good our intentions, we cannot defend things that we do not understand. If the only causes that we can be rallied to support are those requiring relatively little effort and understanding, we’re in for a rude awakening in the near future.
The long lines of conservatives flocking to support Chick-fil-A restaurants across the nation may be unwitting proof that Lord Boyd Orr was correct when he said, “If people have to choose between sandwiches and freedom, they will take sandwiches.”
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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