Advice to the GOP from pundits

It’s curious and comedic (Comedy: “The last alternative to despair.”—Franklin Marcus). Since the defeat of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and the election of Barack Hussein Obama a strange deluge of theme-words—from left and right—has poured out from political pundits, politicians and prognosticators giving advice to the Republican Party on how to stay politically alive. Recently, one caught my attention.

Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, often published in the Wilmington StarNews, wrote under a heading: “Neo-Birchers stand in way of a Republican comeback.” Aside from the false notion that the GOP has gone away, I doubt that many readers know what a “Bircher” is, much less a “neo-Bircher.” (link)

The late Bill Safire was a master at “words and phrases that make up the language of American politics,” according to the publisher of his “Safire’s Political Dictionary.” Someone at Newsweek wrote that this is “The definitive work on the subject.” Safire defines “BIRCHER a member or supporter of the John Birch Society, best known and probably most active of the ultraconservative, militantly anticommunist splinter groups.” Those who fear and denounce strong conservative voices also use the “attack phrase”: Radical Right. Some of us conservative writers turn that phrase back on the political Left.

Maybe Mr. Greenberg was one of the journalists that “discovered gradually” the Birch Society after it was founded in 1958 by American businessman Robert Welch Jr. The name comes from Captain John Birch a US Air Force officer murdered by the Chinese Communists in 1945; and “hushed up by Communist agents in the U. S.” This secretive group didn’t much publicize itself, so it’s likely, in my opinion, journalists and other leftist writers concocted negative stories about it—a common tactic to shut down support for those whose ideas they oppose.

With no supporting evidence of harm they have done to our personal or political health, Greenberg labels Birch Society members “malignant cancers.” I’ll admit I don’t know Mr. Greenberg’s political ideology, but his language in this article and the name of his media affiliation clues me that it’s Left.

Anyway, typically, press members baited Republican California gubernatorial candidates—Nixon in 1962 and Reagan in 1966—with the question, “Do you accept or reject support of the Birchers?” Nixon rejected them, and lost the election. Reagan said, supporters “bought his views, not he theirs.” He, who did not speak ill of fellow Republicans, won by nearly a million votes.

There’s a lesson to be learned here about the folly of Republicans rejecting potential political supporters defined and defamed by journalists. What about the “big tent” the GOP is told it must offer the public? It’s a strange phenomenon: one would expect that those who oppose conservative views would rejoice in the GOP being reduced to a “minor” party. We know that the neo-left strategy is to silence opposition because they can’t credibly debate it.

Yet, the Arkansan critic presumes to advise the Grand Old Party that it should “wake up and take precautions.” Otherwise, he predicts, it will become a “hollowed-out refuge for haters and paranoids…ideological parasites”—strong labels for citizens who have a right to express their opinions as much as he does, regardless of their associations—for which they also have a right to choose.

In my opinion, Mr. Greenberg’s characterizations more aptly apply to historically radical leftists as well as neo-leftists that have often acted, sometimes violently, on their hatred, intolerance and paranoia, and actively use government to parasitize and control the lives of American citizens.

(We’ve survived federal administrations controlled by these people in the past, but in my lifetime no American government has been so infiltrated with them at the highest level. The dangers to America from any faction of the Right pale in comparison to the progressive works by the Left. And “words” can’t do harm unless someone creates and promotes it, but actions can do us direct damage.)

Greenberg displays paranoid disdain for some “thoughtless” words ascribed to people he brands “neo-Birchers”—remnants of the John Birch Society, according to him. He says these opposers of leftist agenda are “buried in the woodwork of American politics and still burrowing away.” This termite analogy better applies to radical neo-leftists who “fundamentally” hope to eat away at American culture, our historic freedom and economic liberty.

Mr. Greenberg says that neo-Birchers aren’t conservative. He defines conservatism as “attachment to the tried and true; to the wisdom of hard-earned experience…to custom and tradition; to the civilities and grace notes of life; to tolerance and manners.” I won’t argue with that.

I do, however, disagree that bold, or even uncivil, language one uses necessarily discredits his beliefs. Greenberg says that certain words represent danger. By that standard he qualifies as a threat—he uses plenty of strong, offensive words to condemn those with whom he ideologically disagrees. Yet he arrogantly offers advice to others with his word choice.

The term neo-Bircher denigrates those who oppose the evils promoted by violent radicals. Greenberg obtusely associates Birchers with “murderous rhetoric” of Islamists, Nazis and Marxists—people opposed by Birchers. Actually, in addition to vicious speech, dangerous deeds trace to members of these groups of active extremists, not the ultraconservative faction of the American political Right.

Nearly every senseless destructive act in recent history has been carried out by Islamists, Marxists, national socialists, union thugs, environmental radicals, atheists, abortion providers, lunatics, “Occupy” members and our own federal government—responsible for millions of killings, but often excused or embraced by the political Left.

In contrast, Greenberg shows great hostility in two examples of verbiage uttered by Arkansans—words that expressed their political beliefs; strong words, but more clear and no worse than those used by him labeling them neo-Birchers (one a dreaded “gun enthusiast”).

And here the selectivity and hypocrisy of the Left is on display. Other neo-left Arkansas travelers by the name of Clinton whose lying words and foal deeds I’ll not recite, in the interest of “civility and grace,” surely are known to Mr. Greenberg. Then, there’s the public denigration of rural Americans (many in Arkansas) disdainfully described by the current President of the United States as “clinging to their guns and Bibles.” Examples abound; too numerous to mention here.

Pundit’s advice to Republicans—most of it, I suspect—is designed to mislead the Party. I have some advice of my own: forget about chasing statist interest groups or chasing away strong, fearless conservatives unafraid to stand up for traditional American values, and who refuse to be intimidated by liberal media, political leftists and establishment Republicans. Other lessons can be learned from history.

Hark back to the media savagery of one of America’s most stalwart and principled conservatives: Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential campaign. Alan Miller, an editorial writer for the San Diego Union Tribune, reviewed a book by Rick Perlstein titled: “Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus” in Chronicles (Aug. 2001).

In 1964, Barry Goldwater “confounded pundits and Republican leaders” with his GOP nomination for president of the United States. Mr. Perlstein cites the pundits’ dismissal of Goldwater’s candidacy as “one of the most dramatic failures of discernment in the history of American journalism.”

Immediately after his nomination, media “began to pummel him as a reckless political extremist.” For example, Bill Moyers, “adept at character assassination,” labeled Sen. Goldwater a “trigger-happy wild man…itching for a full-scale nuclear war in Vietnam.” A good man, he was often heckled at universities, called a hate monger and “showered with abuse.” No wonder he didn’t like campaigning—true conservatives frequently get this uncivil and undeserved treatment by the Left.

Scrupulously honest Goldwater wouldn’t even pander to his audiences, but the Johnson campaign suggested that he would destroy Social Security, “start World War III” and “roll back civil rights” (fast-forward to the 2012 Obama campaign for similar slanderous tactics against Mitt Romney).

Goldwater stood by his principles (“the candidate remained a straight-shooter”), but made some strategic blunders and Lyndon B. Johnson won after a “media mugging” of the Senator. Two years later, however, conservatives dominated Congress—“LBJ couldn’t even get a majority to appropriate money for rodent control in the slums.” Additionally, ten new conservative governors won election, including Ronald Reagan in California. This after the media had relegated the conservative movement to “a mere political footnote.”

Republicans should study our political history, disregard pundit’s deceitful advice and stand strong on conservative principles—and with principled candidates and representatives.

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About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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