Huh? Follow me here.
Sure, I think Lahren erred in calling pro-life Conservatives like me "hypocrites," but I also think Glenn Beck overreacted by firing her. This was a classic case of Conservatives showing our inability to reconcile.
If I were Beck, I’d have responded thusly: "Tomi, I support every choice that doesn't take away someone else's choice, so we only disagree on when someone else's choice is in play. I think human life begins earlier, you think later--a disagreement over science, not Conservatism. Neither of us is a hypocrite.”
That would end it. Lahren would take back her “hypocrite” comment, and all would be well.
But Beck didn’t do that, and here’s why: He doesn’t think in those terms. Neither does Lahren. And lest anyone blame them, the fact is few Conservatives today do think in those terms.
The problem? Today’s Conservatives draw the wrong lines. Rather than draw a clear line between us and the Left, we sketch an elaborate maze within the Right, labeling anyone failing to walk our chosen path as “hypocrites,” “RINO’s,” “purists”—pick a brand.
Lahren made this mistake, labeling as “hypocrites” any Conservatives not walking her path. Beck responded in kind, banishing her for not walking his path. And in Washington, Paul Ryan and Rand Paul made this mistake when trying to replace Obamacare (more on that later).
Let’s try something different: Back out of the maze. Let’s walk out where we entered, and allow me to draw some clear, simple lines:
Line #1: I want to control my own life, not yours. This is the heart of self-governance. Agree with this basic statement, and you’re a Conservative; you’re on our side of the line. If you disagree and wish to control others, you’re a Liberal. So the line I draw is between Choice (Conservative) and Control (Liberal).
But of course, some control is necessary, lest we descend into lawlessness. So how do we decide which choices are okay?
Simple. Just draw the next line.
Line #2: I support every choice that doesn’t take away someone else’s choice. If my choice removes your choice, that’s control—and we Conservatives don’t like that.
For instance, suppose I choose to steal a woman’s purse. Removing her choice of what to do with her money, my choice is a crime. Or suppose I create Obamacare, removing many choices, from coverage options to doctors to making healthy young people buy more than they need. By removing all these choices, my choice crosses the line. I’m controlling people.
The beauty of using my two lines—beyond their simplicity—is their flexibility. Sure, they unite Conservatives, as no Liberal can stay for long on our side of them without killing decades of Democrat legislation. But within Conservatism itself, these lines permit great diversity of thought and application.
Why? Because while Conservatives agree on these two lines, they won’t always agree on where the second one is drawn. In other words, they won’t always agree about when one person’s choice removes another person’s choice. And that’s okay.
Recognizing this, we on the Right can respectfully discuss where to draw Line #2 on each issue, respecting anyone who at least commits to standing on our side of the two lines. So if neither you nor I want our choices taking away the choices of others, that agreement alone lowers hostility. Now we share a common goal. Now we're talking the same language. Now we can relax, accept each other, and discuss the tough issues currently tearing Conservatives apart.
Had Lahren and Beck done this on the issue of abortion—as I demonstrated—they would have reconciled. Not agreed, mind you, but reconciled. They'd still be a team. But they didn't, so now they're a fiasco. And their failure came not because they aren’t Conservatives, but because they forgot what makes a Conservative. Leaving behind simple lines, they entered the maze.
Likewise, while Paul Ryan and Rand Paul ideally want similar healthcare plans, they disagree on how to get there in the current political climate. I prefer Paul’s plan, but I agree with Ryan that the political road to that plan—and the fallout of enacting it—could be treacherous.
Notice how Ryan and Paul are on the same side of my two lines. But failing to see this, each demanded the other walk a “correct” path through the maze. So just like Lahren and Beck, they became disrespectful, incurring great failure instead of success.
Ultimately, is this their fault? No, it’s ours. We’re their constituency; those pressuring them to navigate a maze rather than unite on our side of simple lines. We’re Ryan’s moderate district, telling him to move slowly, avoiding major backlash. We’re also Paul’s libertarian base, telling him to implement pure market principles now, lest Washington erode more liberties. Thanks to us, these two guys face enormous pressure.
Our civil war is so foolish. Hunting each other in a maze—like amateurs playing paintball—we have no right to chastise Beck, Lahren, Ryan, or Paul. Until we back out of the maze, our leaders must echo our division—or lose their base. We built the maze, folks. They’re trapped in it.
It’s hard to believe we won last November, as our civil war turns us from America’s political victors into America’s political joke. Meanwhile, Democrat leaders have no time for mazes. Standing proudly on the opposite side of both lines, they play for keeps. No games. No paintball. They want nothing less than total control over the choices of others, and our amateur infighting is handing it to them.
So, are Beck and Lahren bad people? No, they’re good Conservatives stuck in a bad maze, with the rest of us cheering on “our guy” like mobs at a cage match. This isn’t succeeding, folks. It never will. We need to draw the right lines, debate respectfully, and work together.
Then we can govern. Then we can save America.
And we’d better do it soon.