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Conservative Movement Needs Pragmatic Leadership

537002_417970358285201_347904510_nPeople who know me know that I am as conservative as they come: fiscally, socially, and economically. It is my strong belief that for the Republican Party to be successful, we need to move to our right – not necessarily to our center. I believe conservative ideas and values are what have made this country strong, prosperous, and successful. We can not abandon these ideas, but we can’t leave out those in the middle either.

The issue that has plagued the conservative movement has been the fact that people who hold these values, especially its perceived leaders, have been labeled ideologues – and some of them deserve that title. The “all or nothing” attitude of some in the conservative movement has turned off the electorate from supporting its candidates – even though many of them have the right ideas to get America working again.

There is a major difference in being a principled person and being an ideologue. Often conservatives point to President Ronald Reagan as the icon of our movement, but they just as often forget that the leadership style that made the 40th President successful was principled pragmatism. While Republicans controlled the Senate for much of his term, Democrats controlled the House for Reagan’s entire term in office – yet he arguably accomplished more in his tenure than any other President of the modern era. How did he accomplish this? He had to work with both sides of the isle while still standing on his conservative principles. He knew how to chip away at attaining a goal.

Today, some conservatives label Republicans who work with a member of the opposite party as a “RINO,” or “Republican in name only.” While there may be some, we can’t label every bipartisan event as a “running of the RINO’s.” Over the last 30 years, liberals chipped away at the goals they set in order to make it palatable to the American electorate and seem less drastic. Nothing they did happened overnight. Why do some conservatives feel that everything they want must happen overnight?

Things take time, effort, and patience. You can still stand on your principles and work towards your goals at the same time, even if you don’t get everything you wanted the first time around. When you make that your standard operating procedure – the things you do take an unmoving, principled stand on will seem more important and urgent to the electorate. I would rather have a piece of my pie than no pie at all – and that’s what we got out of the last Presidential and Senatorial elections, no pie.

Conservatism can sweep across this nation again as it did during the Reagan Revolution, but it will take leaders with principled pragmatism to get us there.

Michael Neal
State Chairman
Indiana Federation of Young Republicans

*All posts in the ‘Chairman’s Blog’ are the opinion of the Chairman