When It Comes to the Future, the Right Misses the Big Picture

Besides coming to grips with the lukewarm presidential candidacy of Sen. John McCain, there are few questions roiling the online Right more than what the future holds.

Get the average conservative or libertarian talking, and you'll hear a variety of explanations for what went wrong. For the most part, most discussants seem to break down into two camps, one believing things are bad because allegedly conservative politicians have gone astray following the siren call of big government.

The other group blames the current state of affairs on technological ineptitude.

Both have some reason to their arguments, and yet both get it wrong. During the Bush era, the Republican Party at both the presidential and congressional levels seems to have acted less conservatively than before. This has been a great disappointment to many on the right. Unfortunately, they draw the incorrect conclusion that the sole reason the GOP's electoral fortunes look dim is because it hasn't been sufficiently conservative.

This is a tempting conclusion to reach, but it requires that one ignore that liberals have co-opted this argument for their party. Ask almost any liberal blogger, and they'll tell you the reason Democrats lost elections prior to 2006 was that they weren't liberal enough.

Both arguments cannot always be true. Each side does have its own ideological core of support. Appealing exclusively to that base is not a good long-term strategy, however - especially at the presidential level.

It is also slightly problematic to hear conservatives on the one hand reject the ability of politicians to effect "change" on a societal level and then at the same time to see the right put its faith in the ability of different politicians to keep themselves in line.

While more conservatism does not necessarily equal victory, it is also true that better technology does not, either. Superior technology never saved a bad candidate, as Presidents Howard Dean and Ron Paul can attest. Observing their losses, however, many on the right have drawn the wrong conclusion, thinking that the failure of either candidate to acquire the traction they needed was because engaging the Internet is not useful (beyond raising money) or that it only appeals to young people who don't vote.

Continued...

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013