Back to Opinion columns.
Realism needed in political activism
It seems to me that too many conservatives have become unrealistic in their political activism, especially in what is expected of the Republican Party. Many conservatives demand action on a variety of fronts, from abortion to tax cuts to property rights and so on, and become frustrated at what is seen as inaction, especially at the federal level.
It is true the Republican Congress has not moved as fast as manyconservatives think prudent. And on some issues, the GOP has given up easily winnable fights for no good reason. One of these is the move to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts. This was a no-brainer and a political winner. First, we have federally-funded "art" that is nothing more than pornography. Other federally funded "art" is nothing more than bigoted attacks on religion, especially Christianity. The NEA-funded photograph of a cross in a jar of urine is an example of this. If nothing else, the GOP could have demanded the Democrats stop defending corporate welfare for Hollywood elitists.
But many conservatives are just too impatient. They want a complete rollback of federal entitlements, overzealous government regulation, and onerous tax burdens now, with no phase-in period. As the 1998 elections heat up, many Libertarian candidates will complain the GOP has not followed through on the their 1994 mandate of smaller, less intrusive government.
These people need to look beyond their shortsighted demands and realize perfect laws are not realistic. First, we have a tie-dyed 60's hippie in the White House, whose outward facade of "moderation" hides a radical liberal agenda and a determination to prevent any rollback of government power. The GOP Congress can vote for the abolition of the Department of Education until they are blue in the face, but conservatives do not have the votes to override a Clinton veto, or (at least until the next Congress) a filibuster by Senate Democrats.
In general, Republicans are not "liberal". Ex-television talk show host Bob Enyart is one of the people who refer to Republicans as "the enemy", showing a lack of patience. One particular example shows why people like Enyart need to step back and accept what is possible. On one episode of his program, Enyart attacked regulatory restrictions on abortion, using the analogy that if rape were legal, it would not be acceptable to simply place regulatory restrictions on it. Instead, rape must be illegal. Enyart and other unrealistic conservatives are right in principle, of course. But when pro-lifers don't have the legislative strength to pass an outright ban on abortion, they can pass regulatory restrictions to reduce the number of abortions that take place. In this case, fewer babies will die with the restrictions than would die without the restriction. No, this is not good law, but it's better than no legislative protection whatsoever.
I do recognize a need to refuse to support, and in some cases actively campaign against, liberal Republicans. New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman and soon to be former state Rep. Jerry Bales, for example, are such radical pro-abortion extremists that campaigning against them is a necessity. The Republican Party must stand for certain things, and four basic Republican principles are the right to life of unborn children, the need for smaller government, tax cuts, and a strong national defense.
But not all Republicans can be a John Hostettler. And what do we have left if we refuse to support the GOP because it doesn't move as fast or as far as we want? The Libertarian Party shares the limited government position if GOP conservatives, but its positions on other issues run afoul of the social conservative base of the GOP that turns out on Election Day. The U.S. Taxpayers party is strongly conservative, but does anyone really think it has a chance of capturing even one seat in Congress? And does the Reform Party have a national platform it stands on and does not waver from, other than being an outlet for Ross Perot's inflated ego?
What it comes down to is this: to pass our agenda, we must WIN. We cannot if we refuse to support Republicans based on unrealistic expectations of what can be done. So turn out on Election Day, and vote Republican. The GOP may not be perfect, but it's the best we have.