Sen. Mike Lee spoke at the Heritage Foundation and spoke of the steps needed to develop a conservative reform agenda that will appeal to the broader electorate.
Sen. Lee crouches his proposals in “moderate” or even left-of-center terminology. In contrast, his actual policy proposals themselves are right-of-center small government ideas. As DrewM pointed out at the Ace of Spades HQ:
“I’ve argued before in various places that conservatives need candidates who are better liars. Democrats run candidates in red/purple states that talk a reasonable game back home but when they get to DC, they vote the Reid/Pelosi/Obama line without fail. The GOP on the other hand has a nasty habit of running candidates that talk a very conservative game and then vote like moderates when it counts. Conservatives need to find a way to flip that calculus within the GOP if the marriage is to survive.
“One reason I think conservative voters want their candidates to stake out the most rightward position possible and try and hold them to it is they often distrust a candidate who sounds moderate to actually be conservative when push comes to shove.”
As much as an honest appeal to the virtues of limited government ought to be a winning position, in reality it isn’t. People want a proactive government and respond positively towards calls to “do something!” They want the government and the people they elect to care about them.
For example, if you say you want the government to regulate something less, people will be aghast. Why? Because the government isn’t stopping bad stuff from happening! However, if you say that you want the government to liberate small businesses and innovators by eliminating barriers caused by unnecessary red tape, people will be far more receptive. As off-putting as that may sound to those who believe on principle that smaller government than what we have is a good in and of itself, it is the type of mindset that we must appeal to if we are to win and actually start turning the statist Progressive onslaught against us. DrewM further notes:
“I think my ambivalence about the speech, in particular the transportation example (which is a stand-in for how to deal with other policy issues, talk big, act small) is that I want someone to have a national fight about the role and scope of government. I want to take the ObamaCare debacle and discredit the notion of big government paternalism for the ages! In short I want to crush the Democrats, see them driven before us, and to hear the lamentation of their women.
“Lee’s approach isn’t as satisfying as Rand Paul’s slash and burn approach (which Lee supported) but it’s likely to be more politically effective.”
Therein lies the problem. An incremental approach crouched in the language of the Progressives could win, but it requires trust in those who run and govern under this strategy. The Progressives have faith in their dialectic. Conservatives don’t have faith in the Republican Party or “the Establishment.”