The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

Future Conservatism, Revisited

Four years ago, I wrote a piece here called, “Future Conservatism: A Counterinsurgency Strategy for 2009 and Beyond.” In that, working under the assumption of a McCain/Palin loss, I looked at three things I felt the GOP needed to do to, as I put it, “evolve and maintain their relevance.”

Well, let’s see how we did. Here’s the three things, and a progress report.

Listen to people that they haven’t listened to before..and go places they haven’t been before. You could also call this “increase minority outreach.” The GOP has got to begin going into the places that have traditionally made them uncomfortable, and where they’ve been unwelcome.

About a year after I wrote that, I was walking with now-Governor McDonnell in the projects of Norfolk. That was the type of behavior I had in mind; going to areas where we don’t go; in some cases, have never been. Breaking out of the traditional Republican campaign mode of standing in front of near-lilly white audiences, listening to those who we’ve all but ignored, and addressing their issues with a better understanding of them. People questioned the methods, but the results spoke for themselves.

That approach is still viable, I believe…especially given that, under the Obama administration, black unemployment has been stratospheric (and no, not just becausr of the healthcare bill). We need a better understanding of the black community, and we need to actively explain how the conservative approach can benefit them. And some in the GOP need to stop relying on black conservatives/Republicans to provide this understanding for them.

Kill off their more extremist elements. Memo to the conservative movement: keep going far right with your beliefs, and you’ll soon find yourself without an audience.

We’ve kinda done that…and in a moment of inner confliction, I had a hand in that. While I believe the emergence of the Tea Party movement is largely a good thing, their occasional demands for purity are a bit…extreme. Also, as the movement has gotten away from its genesis as an overall accountability movement, some of the positions taken in the last year are, even for me, kinda out there. Not to mention the cannabilization of its supporters when they break on an issue, and the cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face-edness that’s becoming all too familar, and you begin to get a group that is trending in a direction that even its supporters have to wonder is too far.

Settle for the middle ground more often then not. There’s a way to achieve the desired end state-a united nation with a set of laws that we can all live with-without having to draw the “hard line” for every issue.

Something I said to my newly elected congressman last year:

The work of governing, by its very nature, requires compromise. Not of principles, which I know you well enough to expect you not to bend on. There will be times, however, where to accomplish your goals, you will have to accept those of others that you may not agree with. Regardless of what we heard during the campaign, governing without compromise is unrealistic.

How many near-shutdowns of the federal government were averted when people realized that sometimes you have to give to receive? Regardless of what some on my side say, the ability to govern through compromise separates the statesman from the rhetorical bomb-thrower. Again, we’re not talking about giving the store away, or martyring yourself over an ambigious cause..but NO ONE gets 100% of what they want, 100% of the time. And there’s nothing wrong with, in some cases, accepting a temporary setback to achieve a larger victory.

Overall, a mixed three years…with progress on some fronts, and work to do on others. In the near future, I’ll look at what we need to do heading into the rest of 2012.


Written by Coby Dillard

January 2, 2012 at 9:00 am

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