The Surge of Ideas and a Surge of Action (Part 3)

From the archives…

Here is the text from an advertisement for a conservative publication I respect:

Conservative watchdog journalism is essential to defeating the far left’s agenda. Think of what is at stake:

* Trillions of dollars in deficit spending meant to transform America into a giant welfare state;

* So-called ‘global warming’ regulations that will destroy jobs, raise energy costs, and cripple our economy;

* The federal takeover of health care and total loss of personal freedom in making your health care decisions;

* Higher taxes … wealth redistribution … union card check … the ‘Fairness Doctrine’ … endless government bailouts;

* Financial regulation ‘reform’ that caters to the big banks and entrenches “too big to fail”

And this is only the tip of the iceberg…

All true. Okay, and then what? You’re informed. That’s good. But most of your friends, family, and neighbors aren’t. What are you going to do about that?

Those who understand the the importance of limiting government and the role of traditional morality like our founders did — know that liberty is being lost as government and a radically left-wing culture advances. To roll it back is going to take an enormous amount of work by millions of people.

That’s right, millions. This isn’t going to be a top-heavy army, where a few dozen or hundreds of self-appointed “leaders” ride to our rescue. The job is bigger than that. This army needs more than state legislative, congressional, or party leadership. It requires those Americans that get it to stand up and do their part. Whether that means running for office, helping someone who is, or just making as many people in your neighborhood and community learn about the better choices we have when it comes to policy.

To get there — to use Winston Churchill’s words —

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.

Win. We win, they lose, as Ronald Reagan once summarized his view of one of the 20th Century’s great struggles — the U.S. v. the U.S.S.R.

Victory in World War II meant — again to quote Churchill:

We shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…

A lot of informed conservatives instead say this:

The media is against us, the schools are lousy, liberal special interest groups are too powerful, and politicians are corrupt.

The events on the ground in Iraq in 2005 and 2006 were terrible. Fortunately, not everyone threw up their hands and quit. Some people — like General David Petraeus — got to work trying to figure out how to change things. In a recent speech he outlined the intellectual work that led to the Iraq troop surge.

That’s right — many months of study and brainstorming went into the change in military strategy that wound up turning the tide in the Iraq War. Petraeus said (emphasis added):

“This period has not received anywhere near the attention given to that of the surge in Iraq. Nonetheless, what we did during this period proved critical to the progress that we ultimately achieved in Iraq.

The period in question–late 2005 through 2006–predates the surge. Indeed, it was during this period that we developed the intellectual underpinnings that proved so critical when additional forces were deployed to Iraq in 2007. Indeed, as I have noted on a number of occasions, the most important surge in Iraq was not the surge of forces; rather, it was the surge of ideas that guided the employment of our forces in Iraq. Without these ideas on the conduct of counterinsurgency operations, we would not have achieved the gains that were made during the surge and beyond.”

If you wonder whether as much thought goes into how Republicans and conservatives need to do politics differently, let me assure you the answer is not a chance. Those who have been elected think they already have it all figured out, and the people who run campaigns are mostly fighting the same wars that were waged in previous decades.

Up next: the conclusion.

This article first posted in June 2010.

Image credit: