The year is 2017. College professors are reportedly engaging in domestic terrorist activity. Schools openly and shamelessly promote leftist thought, and hostility and violence toward dissenting thinkers is flourishing on campuses nationwide. Anyone right of center is labeled fascist, and Bill Nye is still considered a real scientist. Lawlessness abounds, while the term “fake news” has officially become part of the American lexicon.
As conservatives, we understand that there is no freedom without freedom of speech. We also know that, once our First Amendment rights became suppressed through the educational system, any hope of having productive discourse died along with it.
This lawlessness, of course, is what ultimately led to the Berkeley unrest and is a source of conflict between many on the political right. However, these recent violent debacles serve as a reminder of the importance of not only upholding conservative principles, but rejecting cowardly appeals to moderation and silence in the face of tyranny.
One solution is simple: conservatives must stop apologizing.
If conservatism is to thrive, then conservatives must stop playing defense. Without furthering the ideology, conservatism will become irrelevant except to existing adherents.
We can write one million think pieces. We can use our social capital to connect, join groups, and attend events saturated with like-minded people. But if we aren’t isn’t bringing anyone in, the movement becomes nothing more than a self-serving echo chamber devoid of any meaningful influence. Supreme Court justice appointments or emboldening midterm elections are important, but not enough.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with fighting to preserve conservative ideas. However, our current tactics are almost solely limited to keeping conservatism alive within our own ranks. In doing so, we fail to grow our numbers.
In order to expand the base, conservatives should modernize their rhetoric. They must refuse to play by the left’s rules and reject violent, anti-American discourse.
Those who care to listen will listen. But by apologizing for conservatism and practically begging for acceptance, unprincipled conservatives only stagnate the movement. In doing so, they allow it to grow stale and further lose its grip as a viable force in American politics.
The solution must be two-pronged: conservatives must stop apologizing and sacrificing principle to avoid offense, and they must work to expand their base by rejecting uninspired establishment rhetoric designed to appeal only to fellow conservatives. After all, our freedom is under threat, and the bland politics of yesteryear are not enough to save it.