I spend quite a bit of time calling out some on the left. I detest big-government policies that simultaneously snatch our liberty and rob us blind. I find class warfare to be profoundly un-American. I have no patience for leftists who demand civility while spewing hateful rhetoric, or those who insist that feminism, diversity, and compassion are enemies of conservatism. And I don’t like left-wing liars who utilize scare tactics to distort everything from Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal to Jan Brewer’s effort to enforce an immigration law that the federal government should be enforcing already.
I’ve also had tough words for some in the GOP. I have rejected weak deals that do nothing in the way of seriously addressing this country’s deficit and debt. And I have repeatedly stood firm against business-as-usual Republicans who compromise even when it’s not in the best interest of the country.
I now see two trends developing on the right with respect to 2012 that I’d like to address.
First off, I’ve received many emails from Republicans who feel that GOP contenders shouldn’t boldly criticize each other and that conservatives shouldn’t strongly critique 2012 candidates. I beg to differ.
When it comes to a 2012 primary season, it is imperative that candidates hold each other accountable for their records, for any disparity between their actions and words, for promises made and not kept, and for any and all inconsistencies. I want grassroots conservative bloggers, columnists, television commentators, and talk radio hosts calling it like they see it, putting those records front and center, and having a zero-tolerance policy for phonies and do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do nonsense. That is the only way to try to ensure that the strongest, most capable, most genuinely conservative candidate rises to the top. I want candidates challenging the heck out of each other. And I want us challenging them, too.
Secondly, I’ve had about enough of folks on the right trying to discourage candidates from running by insisting right off the bat that they could never win. Candidates are labeled unelectable, unpresidential, too polarizing, not polished enough, too unconventional, or some other absurd description. And so I ask — what are you folks so afraid of? Why are you so terrified of Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, and others entering the race and showing voters what they’ve got? Whether or not they are able to adeptly articulate their message and/or possess a proven commitment to conservatism will be heard by voters. The American people will make their decision. And I have to question the motives of anyone who wants to silence a candidate before the battle has even begun.
Conservatives, 2012 isn’t a fight we can afford to lose. And it’s not just about defeating Barack Obama. It’s about supporting someone who can be trusted to get this country back on track. You and I both know that plenty of politicians with GOP labels stamped on their foreheads are in no way committed to principled conservatism, and can in no way be counted on to exhibit strong leadership when it comes to fiscal responsibility, entitlement reform, and reawakening the values that built this country. By challenging candidates — and by them challenging each other — American voters will begin to separate the men from the boys, the women from the girls.
And to those who love telling potential GOP candidates to sit down and shut up before they’ve even stepped up to the plate, I remind you that this is America. That’s not what we’re about. I, for one, am ready to hear from everyone gutsy enough to play.
Jedediah Bila is a conservative columnist, television commentator and author of the new book Outnumbered: Chronicles of a Manhattan Conservative. For more information on Jedediah, please visit jedediahbila.com. Follow Jedediah on Twitter.