27 April 2009

Rebranding Versus Reforming, Part III

While conservatives should reform by way of refocusing primarily on what it means to be conservative, the growing movement on the left deserves a new title. The Liberal title has always been a bad moniker; it confuses, which I suppose is its point. Progressive is a poor moniker as well because it presupposes that all policies put forward by the group will move something forward, and that something is assumed to be society. Far from it.

I side with the viewpoint put forward in Mark Levin’s new book, Liberty and Tyranny. The proper name for the left’s policies, and therefore for the left, is statist. Whereas socialism and fascism have loaded connotations attached to them – indeed, some folks seem to believe that one or both are movements of the right – statism has neither. It simply has a definition: concentration of power in government at the cost of personal liberty.

The simplicity of this definition is key its utility. Rebranding the left’s movement as statist allows for a proper reframing of the argument between Conservatives and the left. Using this moniker repeatedly when referring to the left may well make it stick. Coupling the rebranding with consistent reminders of its definition – statism is the concentration of power in the government at the cost of personal liberty – is a must, lest the term’s connotation become twisted and duplicitous, like liberal or progressive.

The most important aspect, though, is that the rebranding of the left as statist provides a basis for an argument which conservatives can win. When government conferred “benefits” and “investments” and other programs are discussed, conservatives must always, always show how greater government will result in less personal liberty. Conservatives should be prepared to give specific, everyday examples of what liberties may be lost is statist policies are implemented. These examples should be as simple and straight-forward as possible.

What’s more, the statist term allows for conservatives to reject even erroneous policies put forward by those who are right of center based on the weighing of personal liberty versus government power. This is important when it comes to maintaining conservative principles. So when the urge comes, as it surely will, to grow government – the urge toward “compassionate conservatism” - this reframing of the argument would prompt conservatives to police each other when it comes to policy. Thus this rebranding serves not only to correctly define the objective of the opposition on the left, but also to inoculate those who are right of center against the lure of growing their own power.

(Previous article on statism here.)

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