John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Movement Needs to Get Its Act Together

Posted on January 8, 2015
The heritage foundation building on mass. ave.jpg

"The heritage foundation building on mass. ave" by Ser Amantio di Nicolao - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

I have always considered myself personally conservative, but I am smart enough to know that I am not a “movement” conservative.

“Movement” conservatives are ideological activists who stake out positions that are outside of the current debate.  They try to push the debate in their direction by always advocating for things that are seemingly unreasonable at the time.  The left does the same thing on issues.  For example, acceptance of gay marriage was way out of the mainstream 10 years ago, and now it is broadly by the entire Democratic Party.

I didn’t always agree with the “movement” when I worked in the Congress, but I had ample respect for their passion, their strategic sense, and their knowledge of the issues.

National Right to Life, the National Rifle Association, Concerned Women of America, and other like-minded organizations would team with the Heritage Foundation to come up with creative ideas, ground-breaking research, and a strong grass-roots organization to successfully push their issues

They would actively seek out allies on Capitol Hill.  They would work closely with Congressional staff.  They would find partnerships with the Republican Party and they would work with, not against leaders in both the House and the Senate.

The conservative “movement” was smart enough back then to understand that they weren’t going to get everything they wanted right away.  They took the long-view, and they were patient.

Something happened to that conservative movement.  Yes, many of those organizations still exist and many of them still do good work.

But other groups have arisen and they now claim to speak for all conservatives.

Many of these groups are funded by billionaire libertarians.  They deploy slash-and-burn tactics.  Often, they seek to define differences between Republicans and conservatives.  They run down leaders, raise money by attacking reliable conservatives like John Boehner.

The Heritage Foundation, which used to be a fountain of ideas for Republicans, is now of reservoir of ill will.  Heritage Action actually raises more money by attacking Republican leaders than it does by attacking Barack Obama.

Talk radio hosts made fortunes by attacking Bill Clinton now scramble to attack both President Obama and Speaker Boehner in equal measure.  Laura Ingraham greatest triumph was her effort to unseat conservative House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

The conservative movement used to know what its purpose was.  To win steady progress on policy and cultural issues near and dear to the hearts of its grassroots supporters.

But now it is an angry mess, lashing out at former allies as viciously as it attacks Eric Holder or Barack Obama.

The principle complaint about John Boehner is his lack of passion to close the government.   He doesn’t think shutting down the government is a good idea.  Neither do I or most sane Republicans or sane conservatives.

Boehner also doesn’t sufficiently hate Barack Obama.  That’s because Boehner has a responsibility to govern and you can’t govern through hate.

Today’s “movement” has not one iota of difference from John Boehner on policy.  It does disagree with him on tactics.   Same can be said for Mitch McConnell.

I remember when the conservative movement had its shit together.  I yearn for those days of yore.

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