Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Would someone tell me what it means to be a conservative Republican?

If you like to root around in exhaustive coverage of national and Virginia politics, there's no richer grazing ground than washingtonpost.com. And yesterday afternoon, while cruising the site, I came across three separate blog items that started me thinking about what it means to be a conservative Republican in 2010.

Blog item #1)  According to a new Gallup Poll, 73% of Americans who identify themselves as Republicans also identify themselves as  "conservative" or "very conservative."

Does that mean, I wondered, that all those "conservative" and "very conservative" people see themselves as pretty much in agreement about where this country needs to go and how to get there?

Blog item #2)  Virginia's attorney general Ken Cuccinelli has been invited to Alabama and Iowa next week to campaign for those states' Republican candidates for attorney general.

If Virginia has a politician who approaches rock star status (with fans as opposed to soberly simpatico supporters), it has to be our attorney general. Has any other Virginia attorney general ever generated so many in-state headlines or so much out-of-state name recognition?

As Rosalind Helderman puts it in her blog about Virginia politics,
The outspoken Virginia conservative, who is suing the Obama administration over the federal health-care law and EPA greenhouse gas regulations, has been in increasing demand nationally from Republican candidates and organizations.
Love him or hate him, Mr. Cuccinelli's certainly a very visible and vocal conservative Republican. But, surely, just because he attracts a lot of press doesn't mean that the 73% of Republicans who describe themselves as "conservative" and "very conservative" are in line with Ken Cuccinelli's way of thinking. Or does it?

Virginia's attorney general's national political clout pales beside that of the flamboyantly conservative Sarah Palin. I, personally, am not sure exactly what she's for, but I am sure that, whatever it is, she's for it adamantly every chance she gets.

Which leads me to blog item #3)  Ms. Palin's name always comes up when people speculate about who might be the 2012 Republican presidential nominee. However, a new Politico poll hints that the "Sarah for President" chatter is more about her celebrity than her political substance. Take a look at this question from the politico poll. . . .
As you may already know, Sarah Palin has been the Governor of Alaska and was the Republican nominee for Vice President in 2008. She resigned from her position as Governor in 2009 and currently runs a political action committee and works as a news commentator for Fox News.
Based on what you know, would you say that Sarah Palin's efforts since resigning as Governor in 2009 have made you more likely or less likely to support her if she runs for President?
More likely/strongly 17%
More likely/somewhat 14%
Less likely/somewhat 13%
Less likely/strongly 45%
Greg Sargent interpreted this data yesterday on his blog Plum Line (also at washingtonpost.com.)
There's no quibbling with Palin's soaring popularity among Republicans or her rising influence in GOP primaries. But it seems a sizable majority, 58 percent, see Palin's decision to quit as governor of Alaska after a half term and her strategy of elevating her media profile on Fox and via an endless stream of attacks on Obama on Twitter and Facebook as a reason not to back her for president.
This seems to support the idea that her current strategy is working brilliantly to enhance her brand, but only in her current role of celebrity/quasi-candidate. It's rendering her completely toxic for the broader electorate as an actual presidential candidate.
"Her brand?" Is that how Ms. Palin, herself, views conservationism?

I do not, however, believe for one second that the 73% of Republicans who view themselves as "conservative" and "very conservative" see conservatism as a "brand."  And I, for one, am very interested in understanding how they do understand conservatism. Not their ideology's talking points or knee-jerk oppositions, but what conservatism is, what practical ideas it supports, how these will make the country work better.

So I'd love to hear from conservative Republicans who march to a quieter, more thoughtful, less self-promotional drummer than Mr. Cuccinelli and Ms Palin. What does it mean to be a  "conservative" or "very conservative" Republican?

Can anyone help me out?

No comments:

Post a Comment