One of my favorite aspects of this endeavor is the private conversations I have with people. In a way, it’s frustrating because some of the most thought-provoking conversations I have with people are private.
And I’m a firm believer in honoring the “off-the-record” aspect of off-the-record conversations. Now, legislators and leaders make public statements, then public criticism is more than fair. But I am not interested in digging into the personal lives of politicians and trying to ruin anyone. That’s just not healthy.
While I’ll respect the privacy of a couple of conversations from this week, I do think I am able to share a question that has come up in talks and in my mind recently — what makes a Republican a “conservative.”
First things first — a voting record is NOT what defines a conservative. While a voting record can disqualify someone from being a conservative, it isn’t what defines a conservative.
Because the truth is many so-called controversial bills don’t ever make it to the floor for a vote because GOP leadership simply lets the bill die. They protect their members who don’t support conservative efforts. So, when the time comes for a vote on the floor, it’s easy. So, when a bill like Education Savings Accounts doesn’t even get brought to the floor, all Republicans are equally conservative on that issue based on their voting record because none of them were put on record.
So, while a voting record may be indicative of who isn’t a conservative, by no means does it indicate that someone is.
By the way, doing the “easy” isn’t what makes someone conservative. Just like converting an uncontested layup isn’t what makes someone an outstanding basketball player.
A conservative actually leads the way and champions issues. They’re front and center in efforts to pass legislation that really, really matters.
A conservative doesn’t shy away from controversial issues. They’re not more concerned about how the mainstream media will criticize them than they are about simply doing the right thing.
A conservative isn’t guided by politics, but by principles. They don’t let political variables overshadow the principled, conservative position on a bill.
A conservative is a Republican who isn’t afraid to take on party leadership when necessary.
A conservative doesn’t advocate against — against — the bedrock foundations of what it means to be a Republican.
A conservative puts their name at the top of conservative legislation. They sponsor the “controversial” bills. They are not content to just vote for these bills when they come up, they lead on these bills from beginning to end.
Perhaps more important, a conservative isn’t a conservative only during election season. They’re a conservative during their campaign AND after. Their conservatism doesn’t end on election day, it follows them into elected office.