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Ed Ross | Monday, March 12, 2012

As conservatives prepare to do battle with President Barack Obama and progressives in the 2012 election campaign, do conservatives really know what they are up against, or are they setting themselves up for another defeat?

Judging from the way the battle is shaping up so far, despite the lessons learned from Barack Obama’s defeat of John McCain in the 2008 election and three years of the progressive army at work, you have to question if the Republican candidates for president and the conservative cognoscenti yet really know their “enemy.”

Republican candidates for President squabble like teenage boys, allowing President Obama to get away with strutting his stuff, spinning illusions, and leading the adoring media in its relentless effort to make conservatives look bad and uncaring. Arguments about which one best can debate President Obama reflect a misunderstanding of how progressives operate.

Rush Limbaugh allowed himself to fall into the Sandra Fluke trap that he should have seen coming a mile away. Ms. Fluke is a perfect example of how progressives bait conservatives into providing them the ammunition they need to convince various constituent groups, in this case women, that conservatives have it out for them.

Sarah Palin and other conservative luminaries continue to doubt Mitt Romney's conservatism and split their support between Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, although both men are extreme long shots to win the nomination and, despite some recent polls, even less likely to defeat President Obama because progressives can use them to turn off women and Independents.

Certainly, Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, Limbaugh, Palin, and others that have been targets of the left, understand their tactics well. So why do so many of them continue to fall into progressives' traps?

In a recent column in The Wall Street Journal, “We’re More Than Political Animals,” Peggy Noonan writes; “In a way the argument between conservatives and progressives is that, for the left, everything is about politics. Because they seek to harness government and the law in pursuit of what they see as just and desirable ends, everything becomes a political fight. Conservatives fought that narrow, constricted, soulless view of life: We are not only political, we have other spheres, we are human beings."

She acknowledges that conservatives often “unconsciously come to ape the left.” Indeed, that is what Rush Limbaugh said he did in making his apology to Sandra Fluke. He allowed himself to sink to their level.

Clearly, aping the left, with its egregious double standards and a liberal mainstream media behind it, is not a winning strategy for conservatives.

Progressives, Noonan points out, are “as good at ousting, excluding and anathematizing as Mensheviks and Bolsheviks, as Jacobins.” They are self-righteous and adept at dehumanizing their enemies. They are masters of this art.

Conservatives, on the other hand, who believe in smaller government, less political control, and greater individual freedom don’t think in these terms. With the occasional exception of Glenn Beck, they don’t seek the demonization of progressives, and when they do, they do it poorly.

Ann Coulter, in her book Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America, challenges the intellectual basis of progressivism. She examines the various left wing movements from the French Revolution through today’s communists and progressives and compares them with Conservative America from the American Revolution onward.

The far left, Coulter demonstrates, isn’t interested in intellectual debate and compromise. It doesn’t seek to persuade people that its policies are superior through reason and facts. It uses imagery, slogans, and appeals to emotion to sway the mob. It wants to control the mob and silence its enemies.

This is precisely how President Obama and progressives will seek to win the 2012 election. They will repeat the income-inequality themes of the Occupy Wall Street movement. They will define free contraception as defending women’s access to it as opposed to limiting religious freedom. They will portray conservatives as anti-science because they don’t accept the left’s perspective and solutions on climate change. And, as they have done successfully so many times in the past, they will target and demonize individual conservatives who provide them the opportunity to make their points.

So how can conservatives stand up to a charismatic, incumbent Democratic president that uses such tactics with the support and backing of the liberal-leaning media? When it’s all politics all the time for one side and not the other, the other side is at a serious disadvantage.

Conservatives can take advantage of the super political action committees (SUPERPACs) now permitted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission. They enable conservatives to amass unlimited funds to run creative and effective ads that expose President Obama’s weaknesses. The SUPERPAC supporting Gov. Romney’s primary campaign has proven adroit at doing this with his Republican opponents.

Conservatives also can take advantage of the gains they achieved in the 2010 elections. There are now more Republican governors and legislatures in key battleground states, and red states gained electoral votes at the expense of blue states as a result of the 2010 census.

These advantages, however, won’t be enough. Mitt Romney, if he is the nominee, must counter the progressives' Machiavellian approach to politics with a compelling vision of America that unites both conservative and moderate Republicans and attracts Independents and moderate Democrats to include higher percentages of minority voters. At the same time, conservatives must assiduously avoid making the mistakes that make it easier for progressives to demonize them.

Conservatives don’t need to mimic the totalitarian left to triumph in the battle for the hearts and minds of Americans; they must behave smarter, fine tune their situational awareness, and become more adroit at countering and exposing the progressive propaganda machine while offering Americans a better alternative for the future.


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